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.