Three things are necessary to have self cleaning gutters:
1. A leaf guard of a specific nature must be installed on the gutter.
2. The quantity and size of the debris entering the gutter must be limited by the gutter guard.
3. A constant mixing must be created by the water entering the gutter from the gutter guards.
Self cleaning gutters seem like an impossible dream with all this said. Anyone who has a home surrounded by trees who has to clean his gutters three or four times in the fall and a couple times in the spring knows that a tremendous amount of debris falls upon the roof and collects in the gutter. And there’s all kinds of debris with which to deal–leaves of all shapes and sizes, needles, and blossoms.
Still another question: Even if you could have self cleaning gutters, how about self cleaning leafguards? Am I getting ahead of myself?
Having been in the business of gutter protection for over twenty years, I can say that I’ve only seen three types of leafguards that don’t let the gutters clog inside. One was a flat louvered screen device. When we inspected the gutter inside they were clean enough to eat upon. The problem was that the top of the gutter covers were completely closed off with pine needles–looked like a thatched roof and water could not enter the gutter. So I must ask, What good is it if no water can enter the gutter?
The second type is a micro mesh flat screen that likewise gets installed on top of the gutter. And just as with the screen nothing gets into the gutter when it clogs on top. Now the louvered system previously mentioned only costs about $3.00 per foot to have installed and the micro mesh product can cost nearly $20 per foot.
I think you’ll agree that neither keeps the homeowner off ladders if they routinely need their tops to be cleaned.
A third type of leafguard has a solid top. It keeps gutters clean inside. These gutter covers have two rows of interspersed louvers in the vertical front surface instead of one long fin as with all other solid top leaf guards. The result is actually two rows of fins instead of one. And unlike the single fin devices, the louvered product limits the size and quantity of the debris entering the gutter.
Additionally as the water enters the gutter from the gutter guards, it flows down the front wall of the gutter and continuously causes a swirling in the bottom of the gutter. This swirling causes any parts of pine needles, parts of blossoms or even parts of leaves, and roofing grit that gets into the gutter to be flushed away making the gutter self cleaning.
For example, outside of New York City near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel there is a home. There were no trees but the gutters were found to be full of dirt from the traffic entering the tunnel.
The gutters would normally clog on a yearly basis, but four years later, after installation of the Waterloov product, they were found to be free flowing and clean. Only a small trace amount of dirt–approximately 1/32″ deep was found in the bottom of the gutter indicating that the dirt was constantly being swept along and down the downspout.
With this specific design self cleaning gutters are a reality.
What’s more important is that as the these gutter guards may require servicing in heavy debris conditions, it’s simple to do from the ground with a telescopic pole and brush–it’s called suit and tie maintenance since it’s not a dirty job. An additional advantage is that unlike the flat gutter guards that need servicing, it can easily be seen from the ground where the brushing is required.