Several years ago I wrote a story about the gutter protection systems you can buy from Lacina's LeafAway, Gutter Helmet and others. As far as I can tell, those are good systems to keep leaves and debris out of your gutters. You won't have to get on a ladder again. I assume they keep out the debris, but who can tell? The gutter is permanently covered with the hooded system. My only beef with that system is the cost.

When I got several bids for my house, prices ranged from $13 to $28 per linear foot, installed. The salesmen were aggressive. Some lowered the price when I balked but several also said that once they walked away, the price would go up if I called back later. In this economy, I would take my chances. Get bids from several companies and compare the quality of the gutter being installed. Ignore the discounts and focus only on the installed price. Note, however, that these systems will cost the average homeowner several thousand dollars.  

I took a much cheaper route several years ago and don't regret it. I installed the Sheerflow gutter screens myself for about $50. The fiberglass screens, which come in 4-foot sections in white or brown, are on sale for $1.50 each through Sunday, September 27 at Menards. Fleet Farm, Home Depot and Lowe’s sell a similar product. The Sheerflow has two screens, including a fine screen mesh. The fine mesh, which is installed facing up, keeps out seed “helicopters,” leaves and debris. Occasionally, wet leaves or seed debris collects on top, but it usually blows off when dry. At worst, you may need to get out the ladder to brush off the screens. Try these before you invest thousands in the hooded gutter system. The two-layer screens work much better than aluminum inserts or the single-layer screens without a fine mesh on top (helicopters and leaves get stuck in the holes).

Will these screens last as long as the $3,000 system from Gutter Helmet? No, but even if I have to replace them every five years, I'm spending $200 in 20 years instead of 15 times that much. Your situation may be different. Maybe you have several pine trees that shed needles constantly. If Sheerflow doesn't work, you're only out $50 or so, but let me know if you've tried Sheerflow or a similar product and had bad results.

If you'd like to see what the Sheerflow screens look like, check out my Dealspotter video later today. 

Followup note: I just received a call from Miles in Savage who said that he is not happy with the Sheerflow he installed last year. He's taking them out because he noticed that the rain water runs over the screen and onto the ground rather than in the gutter. "The mesh is too fine," he said. I have not experienced the same problem, but if it rains this weekend I'll be out checking. Meanwhile, if you've bought and installed them recently, you might be able to return them as defective and get your money back if you discover a similar problem.