How to keep pine needles out of gutters

I have 11 pine trees about 15 feet from the back of my houses and another one in the front yard.  Twice a year they shed their pine needles and the gutters used to fill up with needles.  Getting up to clean the gutters was a huge hassle and something I rarely did.  Then my gutters would be clogged at the downspout and the water backed up.

The first year I owned my home I didn’t have guards so the ice backed up and I got water in my kitchen.  It stained the sheetrock and worse yet I don’t know what is behind the staining.

Even though I am in the business of gutter guards and have been in Madison Wisconsin and Southern Wisconsin for 25 years I had not gotten to the guards on my home.  It is the old rule that a plumbers house is the las to get the plumbing fixed.

Anyway, after that I decided I had to get the gutter guards on my own home even though it was my busy season and I had little time to do it.  I took time on a Sunday afternoon and installed gutter guards.  What did I choose to install on my home to kee pine needles out of gutters?

I have been in the industry for 25 years and I have tried every type of gutter guard.  Here are a few I have tried:

Types of gutter guards for pine needles:

Gutter screens.  They keep the big leaves out but the pine needles go right in.  They will often work for 6 months to 2 years but then clog.  I had one customer who opted for the screens but then had us take them all off and install a guard that would keep pine needles out.

Foam inserts.  This type of gutter guard is a piece of foam that sits in the gutter.  The pine needles will get stuck in the foam and sit on top of the foam.  Even worse is the fact that the shingle grit and decomposing tree debris clog and gum up the foam and then nothing gets in.

Solid covers.  These are a piece of metal that covers the gutter and then water flow in at the front edge of the gutter.  Brand names include Leafguard and Gutter Helmet.  I have installed a lot of these in the past.  The problem is that there is an opening in the front and the pine needles make their way into the gutter in two ways.  The first is falling pine needles float into that opening.  The second is that they are carried off the roof with rain and into the gutter.  These type of guards will fail with pine needles.

The solution-how to keep pine needles out of gutters:

I have installed over 100,000 feet of gutter guards on every type of roof and in most scenarios.  What I have found to be the best and really the only solution for keeping pine needles out of gutters is-drumroll please:)-stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards.

There are many brands on the market today.  The best ones have a durable construction and are installed by experienced installers.

The stainless steel mesh has holes that are too small for the pine needles to get through.  The mesh allows all of the water to enter the gutter but nothing else.  In addition to keeping the pine needles out they also keep all other debris out.  This includes the shingle grit that comes off the roof and can cake up in the gutter.  I have seen gutters with 4″ of shingle grit sitting in them and clogging the gutter.

So that is my experience-both on my own home with 12 pine trees and from 25 years of installing gutter guards and gutters Madison Wisconsin.  Others have found this to be the case as well.  Consumer Reports did the most comprehensive gutter guards testing ever as far as I know.  They took 20 types of gutter guards and tested them in real world conditions0-in the forest-for 16 months.  The concluded that stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards are the most effective.  You can watch the video here:  Gutter guards pine needles video

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