Are Downpipe Guards Any Good?

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Do Downpipe Filter Guards Work?

Have you ever seen those little mesh things that sit at the top of downpipes? That, my friends, is what we call a downpipe filter guard. There are mixed opinions as to whether these products work or whether they just make things worse when it comes to gutter protection. We’ve had a number of people ask us, “Do downpipe filter guards work?” so, we’ve put together this article to address the question properly.

What are downpipe filter guards?

Downpipe filter guards (also known as downpipe protectors, downpipe strainers, downpipe barriers and a number of other terms that you may see mentioned throughout this article) are small coverings that fit  on top of downpipes or spouts in order to prevent large objects from falling in and blocking the pipe.

Installing a downpipe filter in a gutter
One of the many designs of downpipe guards

For instance, the diameter of a tennis ball is frustratingly similar to the diameter of a lot of round downpipes. Whether that was pure coincidence, or whether the head of tennis ball manufacturing is the devil in disguise, we’ll never truly know. Regardless, getting tennis balls and other similarly sized objects stuck in downpipes can be a cause of much stress for owners of both commercial and residential properties.

People will generally turn to the kind of downpipe protectors Bunnings or other hardware stores stock to fix their blocked downpipe troubles. These downpipe protectors can be a cheap fix, but sometimes the people who buy them find that these downpipe protection covers aren’t as effective as they’d hoped.

How do downspout guards work?

Basically, installing a downpipe cover on your home or commercial building will prevent large items falling into your downpipes due to the ‘filter’ design. Downpipe filter guards are generally made of wire or plastic in a mesh or wire style design to stop larger items entering, while still allowing water to flow through.

Downpipe guards in different shapes and sizes
Some of the different shapes and sizes of downpipe guards we’ve found installed over the years

A downspout strainer is essentially fitted to the downpipe itself by screwing it to the top, or by simply sitting it inside the downpipe if the wire on the bottom is extended to help hold it in place.

Does a downspout barrier stop anything other than tennis balls?

It sure can! Pretty much anything that is larger than the holes in the wire or mesh on the downpipe spout will be caught by it and denied entry into the pipe.

This may seem like an amazing innovation, but it does come with its drawbacks.

Because anything larger than the holes in the downspout guard is caught by it, items such as debris including leaves, small sticks, rubbish and more can actually get stuck on the downpipe filter guard or wedged into the mesh or wire. This means that you’ll be up on the roof clearing out your downpipe guards regularly to prevent water overflow and other issues that blockages can cause.

And, of course, if the holes are too large then it won’t stop any sort of debris from entering the downpipe and potentially creating blockages.

Removing ineffective downpipe guard
Due to a special request, here we’re installing a sheet of wide aperture mesh to act as a tennis ball downpipe guard.  The mesh holes are far too big to block leaves and debris, but the property owner had an issue with tennis balls entering the pipes.

Do downspout guards work?

Downpipe protection covers do, essentially, excel at the specific job they’ve been created to do. They will effectively stop any large items entering the downpipe. In that respect, they are a great product.

When we take into account the full consequences of installing them though, it really is a matter of ‘do the pros outweigh the cons?’ with this particular type of downpipe protection.

If we take a look at buyer reviews online for these kinds of products, there are a number of happy customers. However, a good portion do note that the downspout guards they purchased did, in fact, block their downpipe and gutters at the top, so they had to remove them after the first heavy rainfall and bin them because they caused more harm than good.

Some customers have also complained that the downpipe guards actually fly out on very windy days, so they may not be suitable to people who live in areas with high winds.

And, playful, inquisitive birds like the Australian raven (Corvus coronoides) and the Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) are strong enough to yank flimsy downpipe guards out, so if you have native wildlife in your area and wonder why your downpipe guards went missing, birds might be the culprits.

Sulphur-crested cockatoo on a gutter
Beware of mischievous cockatoos on your roof!

Gutter repair may also come into play here. If the amount of build-up surrounding the downpipe is great enough, it may cause a blockage that bursts through the gutters with heavy rainfall, especially if they are old and already on their last legs.

So, yes, downspout guards can work, but they may end up causing a myriad of issues that could easily be avoided by implementing a different type of downpipe / gutter protection.

What is the most effective gutter guard solution?

In all honesty, the most effective gutter guard solution you can invest in is an actual set of professionally installed and maintained gutter guards.

A complete gutter guard like the Triple-G gutter mesh or the ScrewTight metal gutter guard will stop leaves and debris from landing in your gutters in the first place, keeping downpipes clear and free from large or small obstructions in the process.

Ultimately, having full gutter guards on your property is a much better investment than downpipe strainers because they are a more comprehensive solution that solves multiple issues at once. They’ll cut down on your time (or money) spent on gutter cleaning, and bushfire gutter guards can also be effective at deterring fire damage to your home from airborne embers, if you live in a fire-prone area. If you have pests (birds, mice, snakes, etc.) making their way into your home through the gutters, bird-proof gutter guards will help stop them too.

Where can I buy downpipe barriers and gutter guards?

If you’re intent on getting downpipe leaf guards for your home, office or other property, get in touch and we’ll be able to point you in the right direction. If you buy direct from stores that sell generic sized guards, you may find that they don’t fit your needs because gutters and downpipes come in a range of different shapes and sizes. We can help you find the best fit by working with you to have custom, made-to-fit downpipe guards installed.

Here at Grayson’s Gutter Guards, we do, however, recommend that instead of having downpipe barriers fitted, you opt for complete gutter guard protection. In this instance we will also work with you to decide which type of gutter guard will be best for your home and circumstances.

You can get in touch with the Grayson’s Gutter Guard team by heading over to the contact page or by calling 1800 GUTTER (1800 488 837). We’re always happy to help homeowners find the best, most cost-effective solution for their property when it comes to gutter and downpipe protection.