How to Remove Gutter Guards: A Simple Guide for Guard Removal

If you own a home then you know that maintenance of your property is a must to keep up with both the value, and soundness of the building. Many of these chores are fairly simple in nature and require a bit of attention and time every few months, but even those can become tedious as they add up. Gutter cleaning happens to be one of those necessary requirements that can become strenuous over time- which is why so many people choose to look into gutter guards systems to help make the job both easier and safer to complete.

Even if you have a gutter guard system in place, there is some general maintenance still required, albeit much less than if you didn’t have them. Because of this it is necessary to know how to remove gutter guards for simple cleaning, as well as replacement when needed. This guide reviews the basic types of guards most often used by homeowners, what you need to remove your guards, and how to do so safely.

Gutter Guard System Protection

Man cleaning gutters on ladder

Regular gutter maintenance and cleanout is a must if you have them to avoid both added cost and time in the long run. Gutters that are not cleaned can eventually become clogged with debris, create water backup, put undue stress your gutters and roof, and even create hazardous ice dams that can ruin a roof and pull down gutters if not attended to. This job should be done after any major storms (especially if you have a lot of trees in the areas) as well as each autumn after trees have dropped their leaves for the season.

Getting up on the roof to inspect gutters, cleaning gutters, and checking for proper water flow can become a hazardous undertaking, and the use of a gutter cover guard not only reduces the time you spend with this, but also the effort. It’s important to note that having a guard does not mean you can completely avoid gutter maintenance, but most guards only require a simple, quick cleaning to ensure they are open and free to water flow and nothing has become lodged in their various designs.

Types of Guards and How to Remove Them

Contractor adjusting plastic gutter guards to get them to fit.

Although there are many makes and models of gutter guards, there are only 5 major styles in which they come in. These designs vary based on need, preference, and budget, with some offered through contractors for professional installation and removal, and others easily available as a homeowner DIY project.

Most guards are designed to be installed without removal unless age or damage deems it necessary to take down for replacement. But on occasion you may find you need to remove your guards for cleaning purposes as well, so having this knowledge in advance can help you determine if a certain style is best for you in the event you will have to put forth this effort.

Described below are the various types of guards for use with existing gutter systems, and the basic instructions needed to remove them should the occasion arise.

Getting Started

As with anything requiring rooftop access, you should take a few precautions before getting started. Follow these quick tips for a stress free, and safe, gutter guard removing experience.

  • Secure the ladder you are working on with a stabilizer, and be sure it is placed on level ground. If possible, have a spotter to assist you for added security, and to pass guards down to if needed.
  • Know in advance the type of guard you have on your house, and how it is attached to the gutter. Some guards simply snap over an existing gutter system, while others still may be screwed into the facia board.
  • Have your tools hand in advance if you need any to avoid added trips up and down the ladder. If possible, look up manufacturer’s suggestions for removal as they may be able to provide helpful tips and tricks of the trade for guards that are considered more semi-permanent in nature.
  • While up there, be prepared to clean out your gutters as well if needed. A drop cloth spread below can catch any loose debris you might come across and need to remove prior to taking the guards off.
  • Also pay attention to any repairs that you see may need to be addressed. Tighten gutter adherence points, seal openings with mastic, and look for any gaps that might become a problem.

Brush Guards

Brush guards are a favorite amongst DIY homeowners due to their simplistic nature. These bottle brush style guards are surprisingly durable and can be simply placed directly into existing gutters to help shed debris and allow rainfall to flow unimpeded through the gutters. This style is incredibly easy to remove since there is nothing keeping them to the gutter other than weight and friction. These are only designed to last around 5 years, but can accumulate lose debris from time to time, so removal is necessary for general maintenance.

What You Need:

Removal Guide:

Since all you have to do is measure these guards and place them into the gutter by hand, removal is basically those steps in reverse.

Step 1: Climb ladder

Step 2: Remove any loose debris caught in the brush

Step 3: Lift guard out of gutter

Foam Guards

Porous polyurethane foam guards are a quick and easy solution to debris fallout. These also can be simply set into gutters and fit just under the top of existing gutters to stop leaves and other tree waste while allowing water to flow through and under the guard. These are not designed to last past 2 or 3 years of use, so removal is most likely something you will need to undertake at some point.

What You Need:

  • Work gloves
  • Sturdy ladder

Removal Guide:

Installation only requires the measuring and placement of the guard into the gutter, and removal is just as simple.

Step 1: Climb ladder

Step 2: Remove any loose debris accumulated over the top of the foam

Step 3: Pull guard free of the gutter

Perforated Guards

Perforated guards are typically a cover style that fit snugly over existing gutters either as a snap-on or screwed on design. They sometimes slide up under the roof line to prove an unimpeded flow of water through the perforated openings and to catch any loose debris, and may be attached to the roof or fascia board with screws. These are often considered a semi-permanent solution and can last for many years with proper installation and care. Removal is generally for replacement or to get into the gutter.

What You Need:

Not all perforated guards are installed the same, so be sure to either look over the guard in advance, or look up the manufacturer’s suggestions for removal. In general you may be expected to have the following:

  • Work gloves
  • Cordless power drill or screwdriver to pop any rivets that attach the the guard
  • Sturdy ladder

Removal Guide:

Step 1: Climb ladder

Step 2: Remove any loose debris accumulated over the guard

Step 3: Begin unscrewing or unsnapping each section of guard loose

Step 4: Remove in sections and lower to the ground (avoid dropping to the ground as edges may be sharp)

Mesh Screen Guards

Mesh guards are very similar to perforated guards but instead of using spaced openings on a flat metal surface, it takes advantage of steel mesh that provides more room for water flow and is practically impervious to any sort of debris runoff. It can collect debris from time to time along the top, but is easy to wipe free. When properly cared for they have a very long life span, but can be damaged if heavier limbs or sticks in severe weather which may necessitate the removal and replacement of a panel.

What You Need:

Not all mesh guards are installed the same, so be sure to either look over the guard in advance, or look up the manufacturer’s suggestions for removal. In general you may be expected to have the following:

  • Work gloves
  • Cordless power drill or screwdriver to pop any rivets that attach the the guard
  • Sturdy ladder

Removal Guide:

Step 1: Climb ladder

Step 2: Remove any loose debris accumulated over the guard

Step 3: Begin unscrewing or unsnapping each section of guard loose

Step 4: Remove in sections and lower to the ground (avoid dropping to the ground as edges may be sharp)

Reverse-Curve Guards

Most reverse-curve style guards are professionally installed since they require very stable connections and the proper angle to work properly. However, there are a few that can be installed via a homeowner, meaning you can just as easily remove it. These do attach up under the roofline or along fascia board to allow water to run over and around the curve into the gutter. This allows debris to wash off the end, and when properly installed, are very efficient and last a very long time, negating their removal bearing damage or replacement.

What You Need:

  • Work Gloves
  • Cordless power drill
  • Sturdy ladder

Removal Guide:

The installation of these styles are very specialized, and so to remove them you should follow installation processes in reverse.

Step 1: Climb ladder

Step 2: Remove any loose debris

Step 3: Begin unscrewing the points of security and sliding out from under the roofline

Step 4: Remove in sections and lower to the ground (avoid dropping to the ground as edges may be sharp)

Conclusion

With the varying styles and designs of common gutter guards you obviously will have to have some knowledge of the product in order to remove it, but in general removal should be fairly simple in task and not require any sort of strenuous effort outside of climbing a ladder and working briefly at a roof line. A sturdy ladder, good work gloves, and basic tools are all that should be required depending on the style.

If in doubt about what is needed, the above should serve as a basic guide and more detailed directions in reference to the particular model you are dealing with should be easy to find online. If you have any further questions or comments, please let us know below. And, as always, please share.

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