Anyone who has handled the task of cleaning leaves out of gutters can attest to how annoying the job can be, but one solution many homeowners look into is adding gutter covers. There are a variety of systems, including ones that use mesh screens and full helmets, to keep debris out of gutters. Before you decide how you'd like to tackle the problem, it's a good idea to get some information.
The two dominant forms in the industry are screens and helmets. A screen acts as a filter to keep the largest bits of debris out, while a helmet is designed to only let water into the gutter. Screens are significantly easier for gutter cover services providers to retrofit to existing setups. If you're replacing the whole system, it may be worth looking into an all-in-one setup that includes a built-in cap.
You'll find a number of different types of products on the market, but most will be made from nylon, plastic or metal. With the nylon and plastic options, you'll have less trouble with corrosion over time. They also tend to perform better in environments that receive a lot of snow. Metal options may be more appealing to folks who have serious customization requirements.
Any configuration with gutter covers will be significantly less messy to deal with, but fine debris can still present build-up issues over the course of a few years. You won't have to commit to the every-fall schedule you would with open gutters, but it's still important to keep things under control. Otherwise, you may find that the clogging of a screen or slot causes water to shoot right across the top of your gutters and into the yard, rather than being redirected to an appropriate drainage point.
Purchasing a middle-of-the-road system and having it installed on an existing setup should set you back between $1,500 and $2,000. The amount of work that'll go into retrofitting the gutter covers to your location will dictate much of the difference, as will the overall length and size of your existing gutters.
The biggest long-term advantage of adding covers is the reduction in risks. No one who lives in a cold climate wants to see ice building up and tearing down a large section of their gutters. Similarly, reducing the amount of time you'll spend going up a ladder cuts down risk, too.