Fir trees growing near or over your home are very common in places like the Pacific Northwest, the Sierras, the Rockies and other forested areas. You may not live in any of these places, but you may still deal with the same issue–who knew that Douglas Fir that looked so nice as part of your landscaping would grow so big and become a gutter clogger? If you live near these trees, you have few options other than to clean your gutters from the volumes of debris that’s shed, including fir needles, bark dust, pine cones and seeds. About every 6-8 weeks you’re stuck cleaning your gutters to avoid clogs that can lead to costly water damage. If you are considering fir tree leaf guards, do all products keep debris out and do a good job solving the problems you’re trying to address? Not often enough.  Here are 10 tips to help you weed out the trouble makers.

Fir Tree Leaf Guards – 10 Tips

  1. Fir Tree Leaf Guards

    Fir needles are sticky and will follow the gutter guard curve to get into the gutter. Look under the curve – every place where fir needles have built up, water cannot easily flow into the gutter.

    Fir needles often blanket your roof.  Wind will push most of them down towards your gutter, so consider a system that can shed lots of debris.

  2. Fir trees drop needles all year long, but the greatest cast off is in the fall. In drought conditions, they’ll drop in much greater numbers in the spring and summer, too, causing problems during summer thunder showers.
  3. Wet fir needles “glue” themselves to the surface they’re on, including the leaf guard. Needles will clog the holes of systems that use slits, louvers, perforations, anything where the needle is big enough to slip into.
  4. If you install reverse curve fir tree leaf guards, expect the fir needles to follow rainwater right into the gutter you’re trying to protect. When debris is wet, it’s malleable will follow water right around the curve. You’ll still have to clean your gutters regularly to ensure they stay free flowing. If you wanted a gutter that still let debris in, you already own it.
  5. If you install a fir tree leaf guard, choose a system that won’t sit flat on your gutter. Fir needles will build up on any flat surface and will become wet and dense, unable to blow away.  Systems with this problem include most sponges and anything that looks flat to your eye.
  6. Some leaf guards sit into the trough of the gutter, below it’s front lip. This includes systems that have small round, perforated holes in them.  It’s even harder for air to circulate and clean debris off of these products, expect a lot of extra maintenance, since they can make it impossible for water to get through and into the gutter below.
  7. A “nook” is created on most flat fir tree leaf guards. In any instance where the roof shingles extend over the fir tree leaf guards (minimizing their water receiving area), debris will build up under the shingle along the back of the product. Once wet, it doesn’t budge. Like a sponge, it will trap and hold water. Over time, that same moisture will be pulled into your roof shingles, your fascia board–anything it touches. These systems are recipes for dry rot along your roof line as water can damage paint, rafters, your sub roof, and cause your roof felt to fail.
  8. Fir tree leaf guards can go under roof shingles, particularly if you’ve had your installation methodology reviewed and approved by shingle manufacturers like MasterShield has done.  Don’t take the sales pitch from systems that sit flat over your gutter on this point, just see the letters we’ve gotten from the shingle manufacturers themselves to ensure you’re in good hands.  No “nook” forms when you create a seamless transition from shingle edge to leaf guard.
  9. Corners near valleys are still going to become fir needle magnets whether there are fir tree leaf guards or not.  These areas may occasionally need maintenance to remain debris free.
  10. If your climate is constantly wet, like the Pacific Northwest, your roof and debris are more likely to attract algae and moss.  A copper strip above your fir tree leaf guards can help kill spores that wash onto the leaf guards, potentially minimizing moss and algae on the system.

A system that is designed to pitch with the roof line and not lift roof shingles (thick leaf guards can cause shingle lift) like MasterShield are the better options for fir tree gutter guards.  No debris bigger than 50 microns can get through; fir needles just can’t cause a clog. Water hits the surgical grade stainless steel filter and reacts as if there was no cover at all.  Best of all, MasterShield comes with the most comprehensive warranty in the business.