From where I sit perched on my couch, I can see the roof of the garage in the back of my building. At this time of year, and for most of the summer, the crinkled aluminum gutter that runs along the flat edge of the roof is stuffed to the brim with wily weeds that have made for themselves a kind of scrappy rooftop garden. It’s November, and since we haven’t had a true frost in Brooklyn, bright pink knotweed blossoms are still peppering the gutter, providing some visual interest but doing nothing at all to improve the flow of rain into the paved parking lot below.
Further along, on the roof of another apartment building, I can see a bit of chicken wire pulled up at one corner and rippling its way along the edge of the gutter; someone’s attempt to prevent the same kind of urban garden seen on the garage below from sprouting four stories up.
The scene got me wondering if there are more sensible solutions for gutter maintenance that don’t involve regular treacherous climbs up a ladder. Here are a few options that I found for preventing leaves and other debris from taking up residence in the rain gutter.
Above: Mesh Gutter Leaf Guards snap into place on existing vinyl gutters. Made from vinyl-coated fiberglass mesh and vinyl screening, the 6-foot-long by 3-foot-wide sections are sold in sets of five through Improvements Catalog; $19.95.
Above: Aluminum covers by LeafX are a bit more sophisticated, and require installation through an authorized installation expert. The 100 percent aluminum cover sends water into the gutter, but flushes leaves and other menacing debris off the edge of the roof. Covers are designed to fit over existing gutters. Head to LeafX for more information and an installation quote.
Above: The Gutter Glove Pro combines an aluminum cover with stainless steel mesh to protect gutters from becoming clogged. The aluminum support frame is anondized to make it compatible with copper gutters and type 316 stainless steel resists corrosion. The Gutter Glove comes in three different sizes to fit 2- to 3.5-inch-wide gutters, 4- to 5.5-inch-wide gutters, and 5- to 7.5-inch-wide gutters. Go to Gutter Glove to find an authorized dealer in your area.
Above: Another guard for do-it-yourselfers, the RainDrop is made of UV Stablized Polypropylene and can be installed by homeowners or professionals. A series of rounded crossbars encourage water to fall directly into the gutter, rather than sheeting off the edge. Visit RainDrop to find a supplier near you.
Above: The Gutter Helmet was developed by an MIT graduate in the 1960s. The design uses surface tension and gravity to propel past the edge of the gutter, before redirecting it into the gutter itself. When the rainwater passes over the edge of the helmet, a 3/8-inch slit allows water to slide in, while leaves and debris slide off. Head to Gutter Helmet to request a free quote.
Roofs on your mind? See Remodeling 101: Standing Seam Metal Roofs. Interested in intentional green roofs? See Architect’s Visit: A Green Roof, With Wildflowers.