You know that you have gutter trouble when little trees can be seen growing out of them, or when rain pours over the sides and not through the downspouts.
Ignoring these problems can only lead to serious damage of a home's eves, siding, brickwork and sills, and can even cause damp basements.
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While a homeowner can climb a ladder over and over again, making his way all around the house while seasonally cleaning out the gutters, this is a large investment of time and an injury risk because of the chances of a ladder fall.
"The better solution is to invest in a gutter cover solution that will keep leaves, pine needles, seeds, sand, branches and roof grit out of your gutters so that they never have to be cleaned," said Brian Hoffman, vice president of Gutter Glove of Chicagoland, based in Elk Grove Village.
"When those materials are allowed to collect in gutters, they compost themselves into mud, block water flow and become fertile ground for seedlings to grow," he said.
For the past three years, Dave Hoffman and his two sons, Brian and Brent, have been the local franchisees for this gutter solution that uses an anodized aluminum frame and surgical stainless steel mesh. It was invented almost a decade ago by a California tree trimmer.
"Our system has the thickest and strongest frame of any gutter cover available and the finest steel mesh that will even block sand from entering. It fits under the first row of shingles and attaches to the outer lip of the gutter, and it really can't be seen from the ground," said Dave Hoffman, president of the company.
"Since our framework is so strong, it is able to withstand most falling branches during storms, as well as heavy snow loads," Brian said. "And Gutter Glove can be installed in copper gutters because the anodized aluminum does not react with other metals."
Vinyl and plastic gutter covers on the market, on the other hand, are easily punctured and crushed and can deteriorate in the harsh sunlight that falls on roofs and gutter systems, the Hoffmans say.
"Those surface tension systems can also become a haven for bees, wasps and birds. We removed one recently where we found three bird nests and cleaned out several hives," Brian said.
Gutter Glove of Chicagoland offers three different gutter systems. Which one is chosen depends upon the needs and budget of the homeowner. The Leaf Blaster is the least expensive system and it features a lighter-weight frame and less-fine mesh. The Ultra Series system has a slightly heavier frame and medium mesh. The high-end system is the Pro Series, which offers the strongest frame and the finest mesh.
Any of the three install on an average house in one day and all come with a 25-year guarantee.
"Which system we recommend to a homeowner depends on the topography of the land, the trees and other landscaping surrounding the house, and the pitch of the roof," Brian said. "If the roof pitch is very steep, you need a wider mesh to accommodate the (higher) volume of water rushing off the roof."
Costs start at about $1,000 and vary widely depending on the system chosen, the size of the house, height of the house and whether scaffolding is necessary to access the gutters, he added.
The firm also sells an add-on called the Icebreaker system, which utilizes heating cables to warm the gutters and downspouts in trouble spots in order to prevent ice damming and the formation of icicles.
"They can be installed in the entire gutter system or in just one area of the gutters where there have been problems in the past," Brian said. "We can also install heated panels in roof eaves and valleys if they are needed, and if someone wants an icebreaker system in the future, but can't afford it when we are installing their Gutter Glove system, we install the necessary frame and add the cables later to spread the cost out over a couple of years."
Those who purchase an icebreaker system get a switch or plug to activate it inside the house, he said. Homeowners are told to turn the system on eight hours before an expected snowfall so that no ice ever has a chance to form.
"We also have a high temperature, low pressure steam system that we use to remove ice dams for people who have that problem in the winter. It is very safe and won't damage the gutters," Brian said.
For more information, visit www.guttergloveofchicagoland.com. To schedule an appointment for someone to look at your gutters and give you an estimate, call (847) 436-3990.