Gutter guards are an essential part of any gutter system, and this is especially true when your house has trees around it. Without gutter guards, leaves and other debris will begin to accumulate and eventually clog up your gutter system. You will constantly have to clean out your gutters, be it you doing it yourself with a ladder or hiring someone to come clean them. If they are not maintained then it can cause a buildup and will hold water, leading to an even further build that can lead to the gutters cracking or breaking, allowing the water to fall directly against the house and settle down and around the foundation. This can eventually lead to crack in the foundation and flooding in the basement or crawlspace leading to many and eventually costly problems.
When it comes to pine needles, just any old gutter guard will not do the trick. Because pine needles are thin and long, they tend to fall into the larger openings of some of the available gutter guards. Even the smaller openings on some guards leave too large an opening for pine needles. This can cause a problem. If enough pine needles get through the openings, the gutter system can become clogged causing leakage and gutter damage. So before you go out and purchase the best gutter guards in the market, take a look around your house to see what type of trees you have near your house.
The common guards consisting of plaster or metal mesh will be fine in keeping any type of leaves out of your gutter but may not be effective against pine needles. Because they are long and thin they will most often fall into the holes of the screen. From there they will start to stick and accumulate inside the gutter system affecting the flow of water. The needles may not seem capable of that much damage, but just imaging all of the needles that you will see fall off a pine tree. Imagine how much of those could slip through the cracks, accumulate inside the gutter system, clogging the gutters and blocking the flow of water. This adds weight and causes the water to spill over the side of the gutters, completely by passing the usefulness for the gutter system. This, like mentioned before, can lead to significant damage to the siding and foundation of the house, and possible flooding inside of the house.
Many people will try using the foam gutter guards. These are long pieces of foam that slip into the gutter itself, therefore blocking any large or significant leaves and debris from sticking and accumulating inside the gutter system.. The needles themselves can not penetrate foam gutter guards, but they do get stuck in the top surface, which will then trap other debris that is falling off of the roof. Pulling the needles out of the foam is a very difficult task, especially while working from a ladder. If you do not have any large trees around, this may prove a cheap option, but it will still require a good bit of maintenance as the leaves and most importantly pine needles will get stuck to the foam itself, leading to the damage we have discussed above.
This leads us to the best option for fending off pine needles, and other small debris, such as shingle settlement. It is an aluminum structure which consists of a series of channels that are separated by gaps covered with a fine mesh stainless steel cloth. The water will readily pass through the mesh, but it leaves out virtually all solid matter. Instead, the solid matter will sit on top of the mesh until it is washed off. The construction of the guard is such that the mesh will not sag, so the debris never collects. They even have an option to install a heat strip to prevent ice dams from gathering in the colder weather.
A very important thing to always keep in mind with your gutters, even with the use of gutter guards, is to make sure to keep them cleaned. Even with the gutter guards, some debris and pine needles can accumulate on or around the gutter guards. Maintaining your gutter system. is the most foolproof way to ensure it is operating at its best, and keeping the water away from your siding and the foundation of your house.