Gutter Guards/Leaf Guards - Future Class Action Lawsuits?

Haven’t seen anything recently posted regarding gutter guards or leaf guards since 2013 and wanted to get member recommendations/opinions/thoughts on this. In my opinion, the laziest, mis-understood, typically incorrectly installed invention for homes that will probably be the subject of potential class action lawsuits in the future. From my experience, every single time, if they aren’t causing moisture problems now, they will, guaranteed. What do you think? Any course of action that can be recommended now, buyer or seller wise? Agree or disagree?

Questions and thoughts in blue above.

With or without gutter guards moisture penetration is likely with the conditions shown in your first picture. Did you report the other significant issue seen there?

Would you consider explaining the purpose for your last picture of the veneer wall repairs and other issues noted there as well?

I have observed in my 15+ years of inspecting that poor and improper water control methods are the leading cause of the defects I find in and around the home. Roof drainage is the #1 issue, and there are many types of gutter covers/screens contributing with water ponding against the building.

I have my own personal spiel I go into with my clients, so they can better understand there home.

The best upgrade I have had done to my home is commercial size gutters and downspouts with no covers restricting the water that enters the roof drainage. I no longer have water overflow at valleys from heavy rains.

I was a sucker 2X when I first purchased my home 14 years ago. When my roof was professionally installed (10 years ago) they installed a cover that allowed debris to enter the openings, blocked the downspouts. $550 waste of money.

Then I listened to a radio host at Home with Gary Sullivan that recommends the gutter brush (still does). I had to take the brush out 2X a year to clean the debris. Another waste of money $250. This guy irritates me weekly as he also recommends other inferior products like the EZ breathe.

Gutter strainers at downspouts get clogged. (have them in my shed).

I love the commercial sized gutters and spouts as no issues since installed this past summer.

Get rid of your gutters and downspouts completely

Rainhandler Gutterless replaces messy gutters

With all do respect there Leonard, I sincerely hope you aren’t serious about the rainhandler gutterless system. Water control is vital around any home, the #1 issue we should be concerned with as inspectors, in my opinion, due to cause and effect. As that water discharges below, it would have to erode any soil very quickly which would decrease the grade; the beginning of major issues. If its a poured material or hard surface below (such as a driveway), water would likely create back-pitching conditions quickly and have the same effect as the grading. I would love to do a long term study on a homes condition and changes through various stages with one of these systems installed. I can only imagine the multitude of issues related to moisture that these products would cause. Never seen one myself, but I’m sure they are out there. Either way, I appreciate the input, just hope you consider this a bit further as a CMI, if you were serious.

Thanks for the reply, Emmanuel. I’ll try to answer or clarify with your comments below, sorry for the lengthy response:

Q: What merit is there in a class action lawsuit for any product that is not installed properly? Who then would be the defendant in a class action lawsuit?
A: Valid point. I’m not an attorney, but I do have degrees related to such, experience in litigation’s, and am a former private investigator. I’m not saying that to boast or as any merit of my ability to answer this from a complete legal perspective, but in an instance such as this, it would actually be called a Mass Tort Litigation, which most people wouldn’t be familiar with had I stated it as such. Mass Torts are a type of Class Action Lawsuit where civil actions are filed on behalf of an entire group of people who share a similar set of unfortunate circumstances or damages & have many plaintiffs involved against one or several defendant corporations. The suits can be filed in state or federal courts. The angle I would defend is not whether they are installed properly or not, that’s the contractors responsibility, but responsibility (or lack thereof) on the manufacturer(s) - who would be the defendants - and produce a product that leads to long-term financial damages by adversely effecting a homes condition without proper testing of the product or education provided to the homeowners as to its limitations, liabilities, purpose, or maintenance techniques. The point of whether its installed correctly or not is actually irrelevant, but applies to us as home inspectors and is the responsibility of the contractors.

Seems to me there would be more plausible responsibility in an issue such as this then there would be in, for example, vermiculite. Zonolite was the major producer of vermiculite, mined the mineral, packaged, distributed, and it became a popular insulation material in areas such as where I’m from. Vermiculite contains asbestos; asbestos is health related. But, the discovery of asbestos as a health related issue did not occur until decades later. Despite not knowing the product contained asbestos and would be a hazard to health when disturbed, Zonolite still issues claims of up to $5,500 (don’t quote me on the dollar amount) to this day. How are they more responsible for producing a product that was mined and unknowingly produced health hazards then a company who (potentially knowingly, based on our experience as inspectors) produces a product that diminishes a homes value over time, and leads to higher cost in the future, such as gutter guards? I get one is health, the other is home, but do they both not result in unexpected financial loss?

C: Many products when not properly installed/used can be the source of issues and problems.
A: Indeed. Refer to my comment above, and then let me explain myself a bit further. I inspected a home with a brand new $5k driveway and a crawl space that was under 3" of water recently. Why was the driveway replaced? Gutter guards were installed properly, but caked with debris, water regularly flowed over top onto the driveway below. As water expanded and contracted with temp changes, it eventually backpitched the driveway into the foundation, water entered through cracks that opened along the crawl space vents, and the seller never realized. They had the gutter guards for 2 years. They were never educated on leaf screen maintenance, in fact, they were under the impression that they didn’t need to be maintained; “that was the advantage of having them installed in the first place.” Of course, the driveway contractor didn’t mention anything and there were two maple trees in a 100 yard radius. Why were gutter guards installed in the first place? Misinformation. Luckily for my client, as I explained to him, he had a brand new driveway, the seller was fixing all issues related to the foundation, and no other issues were existent. All he needed to do was remove the gutter guards, but what about the seller? I don’t know how much the end cost was, but it had to have been $8k or more, at least. What would you do as the seller in that situation?

Q: What is your opinion about any course of action that can be recommended now, buyer or seller wise?
A. Simple answer, in my opinion: Recommend removal due to cause and effect.

Specifically, if they are present, recommend removal and regular gutter cleaning for moisture issues related to cause and effect which are known to occur from installed gutter guards, from my experience, including…(whatever would apply to the home being inspected)… The only exception I would probably make to this is a heated gutter system, but even then, that doesn’t prohibit leaves from caking over the screens and I’ve only inspected two homes with heated gutters as the costs are astronomical.

Q: Agree or disagree on what aspect of your questions and poll?
I’m exploring what other inspectors think, have experienced, or recommend. From your experience, do you agree or disagree that gutter/leaf guards are a problem? It may be phrased as a closed ended question, but its actually open ended, which is why I included the poll. If they are a problem, is it only when they are installed incorrectly? From my experience, no. I can phrase it in multiple facets, but I’m not going to badger the topic. Simply collecting data and opinions.

I like research, problem solving, and helping people. I’m also a firm advocate and believer of capitalism, so by all means, capitalistic gain is not the issue here. I know you didn’t make mention of that, but I figured it’s worth mentioning for other viewers to understand my angle in proposing this topic/question. I also don’t intend to pursue any ligation or have any affiliations with anything regarding that point of the matter, typically I can’t stand attorneys. I don’t even know how much I like the ones who work for me. However, I would be willing to bet there were a few people here and there that knew items installed “correctly,” such as asbestos insulation, for example, may be an issue down the road back in the day. I don’t mind being the scapegoat of criticism for a valid idea, like Georg Ohm. I’m not in it for the glory, but I intend to be an influencer in this industry where problems exist; it’s why I’m in this business in the first place. I also am only one person, and by all means learn new things everyday. There are some very educated and knowledgeable people and inspectors within InterNACHI that could have a lot of information I otherwise don’t know.

In a nutshell I wouldn’t use any version of these on my house as they are the worst idea yet in my opinion. But that’s only my opinion. Having said that any of these systems that have been installed long enough do display one or more of the many issues they cause. However if we are not there at the time of a rain we can not say for certainty what the problem cause is and can only advise what we see and make a recommendation if we see fit to do so.

Personally, I think they all suck. I haven’t seen one yet that worked properly. For leaves alone, maybe. Throw in some pine needles, or maple wings and the guards get clogged.
Just my two cents.