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Home Depot Gutter Guards Installed for 5 Years

So we’ve had these Home Depot Gutter Guards installed for more than 5 years now and they are still working well.  Many people commented after I installed these that they would last less than a year.  History has proven them wrong.

Fall 2009 - all leaves have fallen, this is what the filters look like

Installed in 2008.  Still look and work the same.

I am extremely happy that I didn’t install some big $3000 gutter system way back when.  Saved myself a ton of cash and headaches.

Fall is on the way – Time to check your gutters

I like fall, but I don’t like falling leaves.  Obviously this is the time of year when gutters enter the minds of homeowners in leafy areas.  It is the time when we think about gutter protection systems.

If you arrived here because you found us on a Google search, then use our SEARCH bar in the upper right to search for the gutter protection product of your choice.  Be sure to check the comments for each of the posts you find for actual homeowner comments.  Hopefully we can help provide you with some useful information.

If you have recently installed any leaf protection gutter systems, please let us know about it!  How did it go?  Are you satisfied?  Did you have a good experience with the installers?  Anything you can provide will help the greater good.

Have a great fall!

Home Owner Describes His Experience with Leaf Filter

I had mine [Leaf Filter] installed on Saturday, Oct 08, 2011.

A year or two ago I did some research on gutter guards and actually installed three different types of Amerimax products from Home Depot. I did that to see which type worked better. From what I had read, and from my experience, the mesh screen type works the best for most situations. Note that I understand that no product is 100%. If you’ve been cleaning your gutters four times a year, after installing just about any type of gutter guard, you’ll cut that down to zero times a year and will just need to do some maintenance/cleaning once every few years. So if you keep that in mind, don’t fall for the “it’ll never clog” or “you’ll never need to clean it” gimmicks. You can’t realistically believe that you can put on a gutter guard and never have to do anything to it.

Because I actually have experience installing gutter guards, I know more about them than the average homeowner. So why did I get LeafFilter installed? Because they were for my top gutters, which are too high up for me to comfortably and safely install on my own.

On Sat, Oct 01, 2011 I met with Steve, the LeafFilter salesman. He showed me the product and based on my experience, I knew that the design was good. He made some additional points that made the product stand out, such as the following:

- It can be easily removed since it goes on top of the gutters and is only held down with screws on the front.
- It does not install under your shingles, so it won’t disrupt them or void any shingle warranties.
- He mentioned that it was rated #1 in its category by Consumer Reports. He showed me the article and I verified it and read it thoroughly later on at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/september/home-garden/gutter-guard/ratings/index.htm.

The product looked very good and basically sold itself. I didn’t fall for the sales pitches—I based my opinion on previous experience and knowledge, so I knew what to look for.

I had specifically asked Steve if the installers were contractors and Steve stated that they were LeafFilter employees and he even went on to state that if anything happened to them during the install, they would be covered under LeafFilter’s insurance. Everything sounded good, so Steve wrote up a contract and said that I wasn’t obligated to go through with it, but it was easier for him to write it up now. That’s fine, since I wasn’t required to put any money down. Also, because of miscalculations on my part, I understated the length of my gutters and we had agreed to a price already, so I ended up getting several feet extra at no cost. The retail price on these is $20 a foot, installed. I got mine for well under that.

After doing some additional research, I found that several of the issues with LeafFilter appeared to be with the install. I figured that the install quality wouldn’t be much of an issue for me since I’d get up on the roof to inspect the work as it was being done. The Better Business Bureau in NJ only reported two complains, one of which one was resolved satisfactorily.

So based on my findings, I contacted Steve and agreed to the install. I warned him that I was going to inspect the work and would not cut a check until I was satisfied. I asked if the install could be done on Saturday and he said probably around 10:00 AM. OK, I thought, 10:00 AM, give or take an hour or two. Well Saturday comes and I hear nothing from anyone and it’s noon already. I contacted Steve and he stated around 1:00 PM. OK. It’s now 2:00 PM and no one is here. They finally showed up AFTER 4:00 PM. They had run into some issues at the first job and it took much longer than expected. In retrospect, I should have cancelled the install since it was late and these guys had been working all day already.

I was down the street eating lunch so I wasn’t’ home when they arrived. When I pulled up to my house, right away I didn’t like what I saw. They had a saw sitting on my lawn and boxes of screws and brackets. The ladders and other tools they had were not very professional looking. There was no van or truck there because the supervisor had to go to Home Depot to get supplies to finish up the first job. So it was just two guys there.

Anyway, to get to the point, after talking to these guys, I find out that the one had only been doing this for three weeks. I went up on my roof to inspect their work and noticed that several sections in front had the filters installed on top of the first layer of shingles. In several sections, the fronts of the shingles were torn. So much for the non-disruption of shingles!

The supervisor comes back and I tell him about the issue with the front. By this time the two other guys had already started on the back and it was getting dark (close to 7:00 PM now). The supervisor basically ripped out most of what they had done on the back and re-installed it and worked with the one guy to finish the back. By now it’s dark out and I had to get them a work light since I didn’t want them to mess up anymore—if they couldn’t install it correctly in the day light, I was scared to think of how they’d do in the dark.

I inspected the back and didn’t see any damaged shingles. I made them take out and reinstall at least two sections on the front. By now it’s almost 8:00 PM. The install took over three hours, not the 1 ½ – 2 hours that Steve mentioned.

My roof and gutters are less than four years old and in good condition. The gutters are just a long straight run with a short corner on both front and back. In my opinion, this had to be one of the more ideal installs and should have been pretty straightforward. I can’t even imagine these guys working on more complicated installs. The one guy said that the install they did earlier (the one that took so long) had a lot of corners so it took more time.

They are also supposed to “seal, repair, and realign” the gutters before install. I asked the one guy if they checked the pitch of the gutters and he said they only check if asked to. So basically they just clean out the gutters and then do the install. And lastly, I find out from the supervisor that he’s a contractor, NOT a LeafFilter employees as Steve had stated. That explains the lack of any type of LeafFilter uniform or signs on the van. Oh, and the van leaked oil so now I have two oil spots on my driveway. I was being nice and told the supervisor he could park in my driveway so it’s partially my fault.

The next day I go up on my roof again to inspect the work. I found several uneven areas and the back corner had some large gaps that weren’t caulked properly. I feel bad for the other home owners who probably never inspected LeafFilter’s work. My concern now is that the damaged shingles could cause issues down the road.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

I submitted my complaint via LeafFilter.com’s “contact us” page.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It’s been over two business days now, and haven’t received any response from LeafFilter so I called the corporate office and the person I spoke to stated that it can take a few weeks to get a response to complaints. I said that I would file a complaint with the BBB if I didn’t hear back from someone today.

Later in the day I heard from someone in corporate and he took down my information. I told him about how Steve misrepresented to me that the installers were employees. He said that the installers are indeed subcontractors, but they only work for LeafFilter.

After that, I heard from the installation manager in NJ and e-mailed him some pictures of the work.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The installation manager came out to take a look. Coincidently I was home sick so I was able to meet him in person and showed him the areas that had issues. He readjusted the front part that was uneven by repositioning the bracket. On the back corner, he put in another screw and more caulk. Regarding the damaged shingles, he said they would be OK since they’re just damaged a little bit and my roof line is further back. He reassured me that if I ever have any issues, everything is under warranty.

The install manager kept telling me that everything is under warranty, so even if I didn’t spot the bad work, if I had issues in five years, I could call them up. Yeah, that’s great that they have the lifetime warranty, but it’s an inconvenience for me to have to use it—the work should have been done correctly the first time. He said that the rest of the install looks good (of course it does, because I had the installers redo the areas in the front when they were here).

Bottom Line: This is a good product, but you need to keep an eye on the installation. Because LeafFilter uses contractors, I don’t think they’re able to maintain the quality of installations. I think it all comes down to money, and it’s cheaper for them to use contractors because they just pay by the job, so if the contractors run into issues and take twice as long as normal, the contractors probably don’t get compensated. If you had LeafFilters installed, go up and inspect the installation. I feel sorry for the people who didn’t inspect the work and might have issues later on. Here’s some additional advice:

- Get everything you discussed in writing—even the part about the installers being employees. Whatever you asked and whatever the answer was, get it in writing.
- Schedule to be the first job of the day and take off from work if you have to. If you get it done on a weekend, there probably won’t be anyone in LeafFilter’s office to complain to if you run into issues.
- Never pay until the work is completed. I didn’t really want to give the check to the installers, but they did do the work, albeit bad work. I knew I could file a complaint later so I paid them.
- Get up on the roof and inspect the work. You cannot take it for granted that these guys will do a good job. Even if you have no experience with gutter guards, a bad install should be pretty easy to spot.

Think twice about installing a gutter protection product

You may want to think twice before installing Leaf Filter, Gutter Helmet, Gutter Maxx, Gutter Guardian, Leaf Guard, or any of the other gutter protection products.  Your home may be all the worse after the product is installed.  Here are just 3 of the many comments we have received in the past few weeks:

GutterMaxx

I am a hugely disappointed GutterMaxx customer. I now understand why they require new customers to give references for only 6 months: because that’s about the length of trouble-free time you get. As soon as you have the build up of dirt and debris that occurs over time the gutter system no longer works.

We live under tall fir trees, and the fir needles stick to the outer edge of the “lid” of the gutter system, totally defeating the intended water flow. The end result is the gutters drip, drip, drip water ALL the time during rains (and I’m in the Seattle area, so that’s a lot of the time). It’s like having no gutters at all.

We were told we could clean the outside of the gutter to remove the needles, but we would need to do so monthly in order to keep the system running as intended. Not what I had in mind for a reduced-maintenance gutter system. I do like the screened downspouts that lead into our underground run off system, keeping needles and debris from clogging underground, but that is all I like about the system. I will replace with a standard gutter system soon! Very disappointed. Don’t get GutterMaxx if you live under trees!

Gutter Helmet

After years of no responses and having to clean my gutters several times a year, I am having my Gutter Helmet removed. I haven’t decided on (or if) to put on a different product.

Leaf Filter comparable product

We back up to the woods in a new senior community. We had stainless steel mesh installed by someone that I consider to be reputable. We were not able to do a post-inspection, however. We just had a 2 hr. rain event-not buckets-more like a shower. We sat on our deck and watched as a steady stream of water splashed down across the length of the gutter. My hubby contacted the owner/installer and was told that he’d take a look in about a week and a half. Hubby explained that, since the install, nothing has been able to grow along the spill line. We’re supposed to get more rain very shortly. I plan to videotape it. I look forward to problem-solving this dilema. Hopefully, there’s a simple solution.

A Leaf Filter Installer Discusses His Product

Allen is a Leaf Filter installer.  Here is what he has to say about the product.

—–

I would like to share with others what I have learned about LeafFilter since becoming a dealer in 2006.  I am not going to claim to have installed an unrealistic amount of the product like others.  But, rest assured it is a fact that I have installed thousands of feet of the product on customer homes in the Northeast.

Courtesy of Leaf Filter

When I discuss this product with my customers, I always attempt to point out both pros and cons that I have learned. I want them to make an educated decision before moving ahead with an installation. We do NOT pressure our customers.  So that being said, here are the facts.

Once the LeafFilter has been installed and the stainless steel (Zela) screening becomes wet, it will catch the majority (99%) of the rain water. If you have valley areas on your home (where two roof fields join together making an inward angle) you will need to have the valley screen (different from the normal Zela screening) installed. The valley screen is able to handle more water flow which occurs in valley areas. If the installer does not use valley screen, then it is very likely you will experience water overflow. In some cases we have had to install diverters even when using the valley screen. So this is dependent on the size of the valley and roof pitch. I would NOT recommend LeafFilter for pitched metal roofs. Reason; the runoff is too fast for the screening to absorb water and I know this to be a fact.

When installed properly, Leaf Filter will keep debris from collecting in the gutter. However, debris is likely to collect on top of the Leaf Filter. This is what the product was designed to do. This is NOT a maintenance free product like some claim. Because Leaf Filter sits directly on top of the gutter, at times it may act as a shelf for the debris. The higher the roof pitch, the more accumulation. Leaf Filter was designed with a pitch so debris will in most cases eventually run off, but it may take time and several heavy rains to do so. You may need to spray or brush debris off in some areas. If it bothers you and you don’t want to wait for the debris to shed naturally, then you will need to clean it off.

I have also had situations where mold and moss have grown on customer roofs and then onto the LeafFilter. The stainless steel screening will clog when this occurs. This is more likely to occur on areas that get no sun. I have had to clean the LeafFilter off with either a house cleaner such as Zep, Jomax or products similar to Clorox Cleaner with bleach. Usually we just have to spray, wait ten minutes, rinse off and the mold is gone. I always suggest having your home washed at least once a year and when doing so, wash off the LeaFilter and this will help deter dirt and mold growth.

Another issue I have ran into in the past. The stainless steel screening has a natural bend to it. The installer needs to insert the screen into the PVC base with the bend down. If not, then some rain water will likely roll over the screening. I learned this the hard way. When the screening is adhered to the PVC base, the installer must use GeoCel 2320 as specified by the manufacturer. This is one of the best construction adhesives on the market and does an excellent job at locking the screening into place. I have seen pictures online of screening coming away from the PVC base. All I can say is the installer must have used an inferior adhesive or not enough. In six years, we have had no issues in regards to the screening coming away from the base because we always use Geocel and a lot of it.

What else? When the installer screws the PVC base onto the front lip of the gutter, he must make sure not to attach the base too tightly. Being PVC, the material naturally expands and contracts depending on the season. The PVC base will appear to be wavy if not installed properly. There are reasons why this product should NOT be sold to do it your selfers. The installer needs to know what he’s doing for a successful outcome.

[Editor's Comment - I take issue with the statement that this product should not be sold to DIYers.  Your statement is only true if the manufacturer withholds information from the purchaser.  If full information is provided, there is no reason why a DIY installer cannot follow cookbook instructions.]

I have been installing gutters for 27 years. I can tell you there is no perfect gutter protection product on the market. I give LeafFilter 4 out of 5 stars. The PVC base will not last as long as aluminum because of stresses put on it by both cold and hot weather. Do not install this product in real cold weather. Reason; it will crack when being cut. Well I hope you find this information helpful and good luck.

How to Install Gutter Heating Cable

This winter has been great so far!  My gutters have really appreciated it!  Last year we were plagued with massive ice dams that had water dripping inside windows and into bedrooms.  As a last ditch effort to deal with those dams last year I went out an bought a length of gutter heating cable and basically just thew it up on the roof.  It actually worked.  It cut through the ice and allowed all of the trapped water to drain out.

Over the summer I got up on the ladder and prepared that heating cable for the approaching winter.  Completely disregarding the manual I ran the cable up a downspout and into the gutters where it sits to this day. The manual wants you to spread the cable out on the bottom of the roof line like this…

Sure, that’s ideal, but it uses a heck of a lot of cable, looks ugly, and appears to be overkill.

I’ve only had to plug my cable in once so far when we had snow the other day, and that was just as a precaution.  Now it’s 50 degrees F outside and the cable is sitting idle.  Love it.

Straight Talk about Leaf Filter from Allen

A reader submitted the following information that seems especially helpful for those thinking about Leaf Filter.  Allen is an installer in the Northeast United States.  In his own words…

—–

I would like to share with others what I have learned about LeaFilter since becoming a dealer in 2006. Note, I am not going to claim to have installed an unrealistic amount of the product like others. But rest assured it is a fact that I have installed thousands of feet of the product on customer homes in the Northeast. When I discuss this product with my customers, I always attempt to point out both pros and cons that I have learned. I want them to make an educated decision before moving ahead with an installation. We do NOT pressure our customers.

So that being said, here are the facts. Once the LeafFilter has been installed and the stainless steel (Zela) screening becomes wet, it will catch the majority (99%) of the rain water. If you have valley areas on your home (where two roof fields join together making an inward angle) you will need to have the valley screen (different from the normal Zela screening) installed. The valley screen is able to handle more water flow which occurs in valley areas. If the installer does not use valley screen, then it is very likely you will experience water overflow. In some cases we have had to install diverters even when using the valley screen. So this is dependent on the size of the valley and roof pitch. I would NOT recommend LeafFilter for pitched metal roofs. Reason; the runoff is too fast for the screening to absorb water and I know this to be a fact.


A DIY alternative to Leaf Filter

When installed properly, LeafFilter will keep debris from collecting in the gutter. However, debris is likely to collect on top of the LeafFilter. This is what the product was designed to do. This is NOT a maintenance free product like some claim. Because LeaFilter sits directly on top of the gutter, at times it may act as a shelf for the debris. The higher the roof pitch, the more accumulation. LeafFilter was designed with a pitch so debris will in most cases eventually run off, but it may take time and several heavy rains to do so. You may need to spray or brush debris off in some areas. If it bothers you and you don’t want to wait for the debris to shed naturally, then you will need to clean it off. I have also had situations where mold and moss have grown on customer roofs and then onto the LeafFilter. The stainless steel screening will clog when this occurs. This is more likely to occur on areas that get no sun. I have had to clean the LeafFilter off with either a house cleaner such as Zep, Jomax or products similar to Clorox Cleaner with bleach. Usually we just have to spray, wait ten minutes, rinse off and the mold is gone. I always suggest having your home washed at least once a year and when doing so, wash off the LeaFilter and this will help deter dirt and mold growth.

Another issue I have ran into in the past. The stainless steel screening has a natural bend to it. The installer needs to insert the screen into the PVC base with the bend down. If not, then some rain water will likely roll over the screening. I learned this the hard way. When the screening is adhered to the PVC base, the installer must use GeoCel 2320 as specified by the manufacturer. This is one of the best construction adhesives on the market and does an excellent job at locking the screening into place. I have seen pictures online of screening coming away from the PVC base. All I can say is the installer must have used an inferior adhesive or not enough. In six years, we have had no issues in regards to the screening coming away from the base because we always use Geocel and a lot of it.

I give LeafFilter 4 out of 5 stars.

What else? When the installer screws the PVC base onto the front lip of the gutter, he must make sure not to attach the base too tightly. Being PVC, the material naturally expands and contracts depending on the season. The PVC base will appear to be wavy if not installed properly. There are reasons why this product should NOT be sold to do it yourselfers. The installer needs to know what he’s doing for a successful outcome. I have been installing gutters for 27 years. I can tell you there is no perfect gutter protection product on the market. I give LeafFilter 4 out of 5 stars. The PVC base will not last as long as aluminum because of stresses put on it by both cold and hot weather. Do not install this product in real cold weather. Reason; it will crack when being cut.

Well I hope you find this information helpful and good luck.

Don’t Overlook the Little Details

We woke up this morning to a strange burnt oily smell in the basement.  Years ago we had some trouble with our oil fired water heater and this presented itself as the first possible explanation… though the smell didn’t seem quite right.

I checked the oil tank and saw that it was low.  Hmmm… perhaps the heater was trying to fire but couldn’t draw oil.  The gauge indicated 80 gallons in the tank.  Seems strange that the heater would be having trouble with that much oil in there. Hmmm.  My next thought was that the gauge was not functioning correctly.  We called and arranged an oil delivery.

I assumed that hot showers were out of the question if the heater could not draw oil.  I gave it a shot anyway and to my surprise everything functioned normally.

Later on I went out into the garage and found that the smell strangely seemed stronger out there.  Oh!  It’s the car, I thought.  A few weeks ago we had a power steering fluid leak that was repaired.  The power steering fluid was leaking again… in fact there was a puddle underneath the car.  I got a flash light, popped the hood, and did a little inspection.  Hmmm… the power steering fluid is full.  And the fluid line looks fine.  Ah ha!  There’s the dripping.  But wait, that just looks like water.  I wiggled my hand down to the source of the dripping and got some on my fingers.  It felt like water and smelled like nothing.  Ugh… it’s just air conditioner condensation.  No big deal.  The power steering fluid is fine.

Okay, it must be the water heater.  Another trip into the basement and I could smell the smell, but it strangely diminished near the water heater.  Argh.

I went back out into the garage to throw out some trash and the smell hit me again.  Okay fine, so where is it coming from?  I bloodhounded my way around the garage.  The smell is familiar and unpleasant.  I KNOW that smell.  Some sort of chemical that I use.  I started picking up cans and bottles until… BOOM!  I found it.  A metal spray can of Bombadier lubricant had rusted through and the noxious liquid had completely leaked out.

That was a welcome surprise!  Both the car and the water explanations would have costs $$$, but throwing out and cleaning up after a leaking lubricant can was easy and simple.  It’s funny how my mind went to the big expensive problems and lingered on them.  It surprised me that it took so long to narrow down and location the true source of the problem.

New Downspout To Deal With Poorly Graded Gutters

We have this gutter run that is about 40 feet long along one side of our home.  Over the past few years it has developed a sag (probably due to ice dams) that cause it to fill up and overflow during heavy rains.  And even when it’s not raining, water obviously sits up there stagnant.

I was worried about what it would cost to get this run re-graded.  A guy came to look at it and said that it would be much simpler to simple add a new leader (downspout) at the low point.  That totally made sense to me, so we gave him the green light to make it happen.  It looks and works perfectly now.

Total cost $127!

Purchasing Leaf Filter is like buying a Time Share

Just one time, my wife and I attended one of those Time Share presentations in exchange for a free mini-cruise and hotel stay.  That day was one I will never forget.  The pressure to buy was immense, but we both kept saying NO.   Throughout the day they passed us on from person to person.  Each new person we met would lower the price by thousands of dollars!

At the beginning of the day the original price was somewhere around $25,000 and people were buying at that price.  By the time we met with the last person after saying NO all day long, the price had dropped to around $6,000.  I felt incredibly bad for those poor chumps who bought at the $25,000 level for the EXACT SAME PRODUCT.

Well, a reader submitted the following story about Leaf Filter that evokes that same feeling as my Time Share experience:

I had the Leaf Filter “Field Manager” over to give the demo, etc. I have 134 feet of gutters all straight, no turns. I was amused while watching him labor over 5 minutes with pencil and calculator arriving at a price. He came up with $4,225.00! The flyer had a coupon for $250, and he immediately threw in another $250 “senior discount.” It still seemed very high to me ($3,725), so I said that I couldn’t do it. He then came up with another tactic – mine was a small job, he could fit it on when the crew was down, but I had to be on alert for a “last minute call” to install. Now the price was $2,750!

He immediately got on the phone and called a crew manager, and arranged for an actual date – after having said that they would call me when time freed up(!). I signed a contract, which allowed for cancellation within three days.

Finally, I read these posts on the internet, called the 800 number. They told me that they could do nothing and that the Regional manager would have to call me. In the meantime I sent the contract back with CANCEL written over it (certified mail), as the field manager originally had said I could do.

The Regional manager finally called 5 days later. He expressed disappointment in my cancellation and then offered to do the job for $1,300! This must be indicative of how they lead customers into getting the highest inflationary price from them at first. Who really knows what a real price is?

What kind of company that claims they’re number one uses tactics lower than that of used car salesmen? This turned me off more than the false product claims.

This is simply amazing.