Ask The Engineer: Does Foam Make A Good Gutter Guard?

Do foam inserts work as gutter covers?

My opinion, as an engineer, is that the best application for foam is for packing materials or a great quality mattress but not as a gutter guard.

Imagine that you are a blossom! Along with many of your blossom friends you drop into a gutter that has a foam insert. You are a beautiful blossom and so are your buddies, but your life as a blossom is coming to an end. Why? Either your time has expired on the tree or you've been knocked off by a few hard hitting rain drops--ouch.

The point is that you are now laying on top of a foam insert--a cushion of sorts. But you really don't need a cushion since you are so light in weight. What does your future look like? Will you simply blow away? Or will you be somehow dislodged and drop to earth? Or might a raccoon, bird, or squirrel trample you? Let's remember that foam makes an excellent mattress. But what about the wind? Will you be lifted from your comfortable mattress and be air born again? Think about it, how would that happen? Remember that you are right on top of the gutter lying on this comfortable cushion. Wind blowing downward from the roofing simply skips over the gutter and goes off into space. Wind whipping toward the gutters will simply knock you into the rear portion of the gutter. Wind blowing along the length of the gutter will simply move you along the gutter--perhaps some of your friends with become air born, however, you have no place to go and are stuck in the foam. And if you've been wetted by a few rain drops there's no fluff in you to sail away--you're  just a  soggy mess. Yes, upon drying you'll notice that you are flattened on your comfy mattress. What's in store for you next? Answer: you will dry out, crumble into many small pieces. You and your friends will accumulate on this comfortable mattress. In time many more of your friends will come to your party and all of you together will just shut all holes and openings in the foam and keep rain water from getting into the gutter.

This engineer suggests that you forget about foam inserts. Do you think leaves in the Fall would be much different than the blossoms in the Spring? Don't think so. Just more debris will accumulate that much faster.

This engineer suggests that the answer to keeping leaves and blossoms from getting into the gutter is a solid top gutter cover. Google "Niagara gutter guards" to find a good example.

Again, if you're a blossom you'll fall onto the top of the solid top gutter guard. If you're dry, a slight bit of wind may blow you away. But if you're wet and soggy, you're going to lay flat onto of the leaf guard and not be blown away. The only problem is that some solid top covers have one continuous opening in front and rain water can drag you along as it flows downward and into the gutter.

Within a few minutes you will gently be washed along as you hug the shape of the leaf guards' nose. And guess where you will go? Answer: Most of you will wash directly into the gutter along with the rain water and if there are a bunch of your from a real big close tree, there is no chance that the gutter will stay flow free for very long but instead clog.

If you ask the engineer, the Niagara type of gutter guard works fine if your tree is at least a hundred feet or so from the gutter and the prevailing winds are away from the house.

Google "Care Free vinyl gutter covers" and you'll see that instead of one long fin as in the Niagara type leaf guard, you'll see a row of louvers. Suddenly the chance of a blossom getting to the ground is much lower. Fewer of you will wash into the gutter than with gutter the Niagara type of gutter guard.

Yet if you ask this engineer for the best leaf guard, I'll suggest to you it's a gutter cover with not one but two rows of louvers. Yes, Mr, or Mrs Blossom, can you imagine two rows of louvers instead of one or none? Go ahead and Google "double row louvered gutter guard" and you'll find a bunch of articles written by me, the engineer, --wow I write a lot. Let me save you some time, just Google "The Number One Gutter Protector" or "Waterloov Gutter Guard" and right there you will find two gutter guards with two rows of louvers.

What chance do you have, Mr. or Mrs. Blossom of getting into a gutter protected by a two row louvered system? If you ask the engineer, the answer is zero. In the worst case scenario if you are wet you will wash onto the front louvers and cover several of the louvered openings, but guess what? The owner of your tree—Mr Homeowner, will see you resting there and be able to help you along to the ground by using a telescopic pole and brush assembly to knock you free and send you on your way to the ground to be with your buddies. Yes if you ask me, the engineer, which is the best leaf guard or gutter protector to allow leaves and of course blossoms reach their intended destination--the ground I'll tell you it's the double row louvered gutter protector--nothing else. And would you believe that within a couple dollars per foot, most gutter guards all sell for around the same dollars?

About the Author

Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E.
Engineer and inventor of good gutter guards www.niagaraguttercover.com, better gutter guards www.carefreegutters.com,
the best gutter guards www.numberonegutterguard, and
the ultimate gutter guard www.waterloov.com.