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How do I Choose the Best Gutter Accessories?

Anna B. Smith
Anna B. Smith

The best gutter accessories protect both the home and the gutters and reduce the amount of maintenance a homeowner must perform to maintain his property. Leaf guards, downspouts, and splash guards are among the most widely purchased accessories for this area of the home. These items can be purchased at local home improvement stores or through the Internet.

Gutters are the steel channels that edge home roofs and carry water away from the foundation of the house. Gutter accessories are used to maintain these features and make them more efficient in removing hundreds of gallons of water from the home's roof each year. The best types of accessories are those that extend the life of the original product, reduce homeowner maintenance, and are attractive when viewed from the outside.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

One of the most commonly installed gutter accessories is a leaf guard. This may take the form of a protective shield or wired mesh that is fitted over the open portion of the gutter. The shield versions of this device may be made from flexible PVC or galvanized steel and are designed to withstand all weathering elements. Tree debris, such as leaves and dead twigs, cannot penetrate the shield and clog the gutters. Unfortunately, these shields can also have the unintended affect of causing water to drain over them during extremely heavy rainfall instead of allowing the gutters to redirect it.

The best type of leaf guard is a wired meshing that allows water to flow freely between the webbing while keeping out clogging organic litter. This mesh can be purchased in bulk in standard sizes from local home improvement stores, or can be custom fit and installed over existing gutters by a professional contractor. A properly installed leaf guard can extend the life of gutters by preventing corrosion, and significantly lower the amount of maintenance a homeowner must perform annually to keep the gutters clear and clean of leaves and other debris. It is also thin enough to remain virtually invisible to the naked eye when viewed from the ground.

Flexible and underground downspouts are two types of gutter accessories that keep the foundation and crawl space of a home dry and free of mold. A flexible downspout is made from durable plastic and bends in a manner similar to an accordion. It can be attached to the existing downspouts on the side of the house to increase the distance the water is carried, and hidden behind or bent around obstacles in the immediately surrounding landscape, such as bushes and flowers. Underground downspouts can be buried for a length of several feet or meters and engineered to deposit water at a location downhill from the home. These items should be made from a non-corrosive, water resistant material, and should allow for the gradual drainage of standing water to prevent clogs.

Splash guards are gutter accessories that function similarly to the extend-able downspouts. This product is designed to be placed beneath the downspout at the point where water is ejected. The splash guard is heavy enough to absorb the initial impact of the flowing water and greatly decrease the force at which it is introduced to the surrounding ground. High quality guards are often large enough to allow the water to pool slightly before trickling into the soil and painted to resemble terracotta stones that accent the landscaping. These items prevent erosion around the foundation which, when left unattended, can cause water to backfill beneath the home.

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      Man with a drill