Gutter system maintenance is VERY IMPORTANT. Gutter guard can help minimize the amount of maintenance needed.
Work Very well for big debris such as leaves. Most cost effective.
Works for all debris and very effective for small debris such as larch needles.
The best way to maintain and gutter system is to clean it out on a regular basis. Sometimes this can be very difficult if you live in a densely forested area or if the gutters are high above ground. If you have underground downspout drainages a gutter cover may be a good choice. Clogged drains can cause extensive property damage and are very difficult to clean out. Please see a brief description of the types of guards below.
Metal Guards: Metal gutter guards are the simplest and most cost effective gutter guard. They are very low-profile and cannot be seen from the ground. These type of guards work great for keeping bigger debris out of gutters such as leaves, sticks, and bigger pine needles. Keeping the bigger debris out of gutters will keep the gutters from clogging. Maintaining metal guards is very easy as they can be brushed off or blown off with a leaf blower.
Micro Mesh Guards: Micro-Mesh guards work for all debris and is the only guard that will keep larch needles out of the gutters. However, they can be visible from the ground and are a little more expensive.
OTHER SOLUTIONS: Sometimes larger downspouts can be installed to help mitigate clogs. The standard downspout size is a 2x3" downspout. Installing a larger 3x4" downspout will help prevent clogs in the downspout, where the debris tends to build up. They can also make gutters easier to clean as you can sometimes flush the debris through the downspout with a hose.
Gutter Guard Disclaimer: Gutter Guards DO NOT make the gutter system maintenance free. This is probably the most common misconception with gutter guards. They do, however, reduce the amount of maintenance needed and keep the gutters/downspouts from clogging. Every homes situation is different and maintenance schedules vary.
Clogged gutters are the main reason gutter systems fail.