Gutters are home’s first defense against water damage

By: Gloria Young Home & Garden
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Gutter maintenance is an important part of preparing your home for the rainy season. The storm in early October was a reminder that it’s time to clear out leaves and debris, and make sure gutters are securely in place and draining properly. Bob Neeb, owner of All About Gutters on Highway 49 in Auburn, has been installing gutters in the foothills for nine years. One of the most common problems he sees is poor maintenance. “Depending on how many trees there are around the house, gutters need to be cleaned up to four times a year,” he said. “Homes with just a few trees will only need one cleaning once a year.” The best way to clean gutters is to don gloves, scoop out the leaves and other debris, then use running water from the hose to wash out the remaining material and make sure the downspouts are clear, he said. But be careful on the ladder, he cautioned. “One of the (most frequent) household accidents is falling off a ladder while cleaning gutters,” he said. Make sure the ladder is on a level, stable surface and that there is someone else nearby to steady it if necessary. Keeping gutters and downspouts clean will minimize the threat of ponding or puddling at the foundation. But that’s not the only reason to do it. “A new fire code in Placer County in 2009 mandates that gutters on new construction must have covers to pass the final inspection,” Neeb said. “They’re trying to eliminate pine needles and standing debris in the gutters. An ember lands on the roof and slides into the gutter and that’s how fires start.” Neeb’s company sells and installs Gutterglove Gutterguard products, created by Rocklin resident Robert Lenney. Lenney founded the company in 2003 and patented his own gutterguard product in 2007. This year, he has created three new variations — two are less expensive versions of the original Gutterglove. Economic conditions were the driving force behind those, he said. The third offers a unique benefit — Gutterglove IceBreaker cuts down on ice dams, icicles and snow loads. “The idea came from a customer on the East Coast, but it is also ideal for areas in the Sierra that get significant snow,” Lenney said. The specialized gutter guard has a heat cable. “It snaps into the front, making installation really easy,” he said. The cable’s low wattage minimizes overheating, he explained. “It’s only 10 watts per foot and it is enclosed in metal,” he said. “So it is very difficult for it to break.” Gutterglove IceBreaker runs $25 to $35 per linear foot installed. For homes below the snow, there are the new LeafBlaster and Gutterglove Ultra. LeafBlaster, the least expensive, incorporates the mesh-filtering system of all Lenney’s gutter guards, but it doesn’t need support brackets. “We were able to do that by putting corrugations into the mesh for support,” he said. “That eliminated half the cost. We sacrificed strength for cost. But it still filters out all the sand and fine debris.” LeafBlaster runs $5 to $8 per foot installed. Gutterglove Ultra is the company’s mid-grade gutterguard. “It has the corrugated mesh, but also has aluminum support,” Lenney said. “It’s lower cost because we made it thinner.” The Ultra runs $8 to $12 per linear foot for installation. Lenney and his business partner, John Lewis, market the gutter guards at trade shows and on the Web, and hope to get them the into big home-improvement stores next year. Next on the horizon for Lenney is fog harvesting. “That’s harvesting water from fog, using our gutter guards to filter out debris,” he said. “We’re also experimenting with snow harvesting. We’re already getting interest in the high country for harvesting melted snow for rain storage tanks in the winter.” Gloria Young can be reached at On the Web: