Ice Dams Eliminated by New Patented Gutter Technology?

On a cold day in December, Alex Higginbotham submitted a patent application for a heated gutter guard. His heated gutter guard utilizes brand new, patent-pending features for micro-filtration in a gutter guard. In the same week, Karen Sager also submitted a patent for a methodology to heat gutter guards.

Recently, another gutter guard manufacturer announced they had received a patent for a heated micro-mesh gutter guard. Given the two patent applications mentioned above, is their product really as unique as this company would lead you to believe?

Heating a gutter is nothing new. Gutters have been the source of icicles, ice build up and ice dams for as long as they’ve been installed in cold climates. And unless you can starve them them of their fuel as we learned from Tim Carter, ice will form.

So, What Are Icicles’ Fuel?

Heat radiating out of your roof and snow and/or water – this is the combination that leads to ice dams. Starving a roof of this dangerous fuel can be hard, unless the space below is unheated, like a garage or shed. If you have a roof over heated space in a cold climate, you may have to resort to a heated gutter guard or gutter. Most people want a gutter guard primarily to eliminate gutter cleaning and other issues, but more and more of them want a heated gutter guard to offset one of the realities of gutter protection – that they can get icicles.

For years, we’ve been able to heat MasterShield simply by running heat cable on top of the hangers that the gutters are installed on. It works perfectly well at eliminating icicles. With the advent of Ice Shield, Mastershield’s heated gutter guard, we’ve applied heat directly to the gutter guard itself. Most important for the homeowner is that it doesn’t require changing the performance of the product just to incorporate a heating cable.

Look at any heated micromesh gutter guard – if you can see the area where the manufacturer has installed the heat cable, keep in mind that they’ve also reduced the micro mesh technology’s water receiving area. That’s not good for the performance of the gutter protection you’ll want working for the rest of the year.

Is a heated gutter guard really new technology?

Certainly one row of heat cable in a gutter guard is not unique, as is implied in our competitor’s advertising. We researched the existing patents and applications as part of the Heated Gutter Guardsdue diligence of submitting our own applications, and couldn’t find one that used multiple rows of cables to heat the gutter guard. Just look at the products sold today and you’ll find only one row of heat cable in most of them.

We consider the fact that our installation methodology allows flexibility with the placement of the heat cable to be a benefit to the homeowner. The drawback of gutter guards with distinct heating channels (which is most of them) is that the cable must go into the channel. If a particular section of the gutter would benefit from extra heat, the heat placement in the gutter guard can’t be altered to make this accommodation.

Note also that gutter guard manufacturers are not in the business of manufacturing their own heat cable. We can all purchase the same cable with the same wattage from the same manufacturers and use it to heat our products. Do you get any more value out of one product than another if the heat cable is the same? Not necessarily, and the homeowner should consider the efficiency (of the heat disbursement) and effectiveness (of the gutter guard) before making a purchasing decision.

What our competitor was able to patent was how they cover a heat cable in a channel in a gutter guard. What they weren’t and haven’t been able to patent is the micro mesh technology they feature it with. When they describe a “316 stainless steel mesh over a support frame of anodized aluminum,” we believe that they accurately describe the features of Higginbotham technology, specifically as protected in US Patents 6,598,352, 7,191,564 and RE42,896. Higginbotham does not license this technology to our competitor; he does license it to the manufacturer of MasterShield.

To be fair, our competitor’s patent would prohibit anyone else, including us, from heating a micro mesh gutter guard in the same manner (notwithstanding that their heating method is remarkably similar what Swanfield did in US 5,878,533 or Cobb did in 6,959,512). Rest assured, we will respect this patent and not infringe on it in by incorporating it into the gutter guards we manufacture.

We would suggest reciprocal courtesy toward Higginbotham and the multiple U.S. patents he holds on micro mesh technology by others in the industry. No one can legally sell a product that adds to or “improves” upon his designs if those “improvements” consist in whole or in part of what he’s patent protected. Implying that you’ve got the right to use it, if you don’t, may be construed as false and misleading.

Ice dams aren’t the only thing that need to be eliminated when it comes to gutter guards; let’s start eliminating the hot air.

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MasterShield manufactures gutter guards and gutter heaters for your exterior home improvement needs.
Our innovative microfiltration technology saves homeowners time, effort and money from cleaning out, repairing and replacing unprotected gutters.
83 2nd Ave
Paterson, NJ 07514