Real Estate

Ask the Remodeler: Are gutter covers a good idea in New England?

Plus, tips on removing excess tile grout.

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Do you need to clean your gutters every year? Yes.

Q. What is your opinion of gutter covers? Internet opinions are split: they keep out leaves vs. they trap pine needles and other small debris, which can foster rot, create extra weight in the winter, and lead to freezing. They were installed on my house about 10 years ago, and I have had to clean out pine needles every year.

A.Y., Falmouth

A. We are actually not proponents of gutter covers of any kind. We have found that more often than not, they collapse, and debris still gets past them, making cleaning difficult. If your home’s insulation is poor, they can make ice dams worse. Regardless of whether your gutters are wood, aluminum, or fiberglass, a yearly cleaning and maintenance program is best. That way the downspouts can also be checked, cleaned, and (often) reattached, and the splash guards put back in place to pull water away from the house. Gutter covers can give people a false sense of security, leading them to believe that they can just ignore the gutter downspout system, which is a big mistake in New England.


(The Globe reached out to gutter cover company Leaf Home for a response to this column and received the following statement: “Leaf Home is committed to the quality and performance of all its products, including LeafFilter gutter protection systems. In the past two years, we can proudly share that less than 1% of all installed LeafFilter systems in New England resulted in customer service cases related to debris accumulation, clogging or snow- and ice-related issues.”)

More Ask the Expert

Q. When we moved into our new home, we noticed that the tile floor in the shower had lots of dried excess grout on the seams. Is there a way to clean that up?


A. This is hard to say for sure without seeing it. It depends on how much grout is there and how long it has been there. I would recommend a two-step trial. Start with grout cleaners you can get at tile stores or home improvement centers. If that doesn’t work, a vinegar solution mixed with water can remove tougher buildups. A small, coarse brush can loosen the grout. This takes time and can often require two applications. If neither of those work, I would recommend hiring a professional who may use a diluted muriatic acid wash. That is not something I would recommend you try yourself; it is a dangerous product to use if you are not familiar with it.


Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to [email protected]. Questions are subject to editing.


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