It's easy to see why homeowners prefer to ignore gutter cleaning; removing rotting leaves, twigs and the occasional dead bird from gutters is messy, smelly work. Leaf guards help prevent debris from building up in gutters.Types of Leaf GuardsThree basic types of gutter protection are available: gutter screens, solid gutter guards and foam inserts. Bear in mind when choosing leaf guards that not all types of guards fit all gutter systems. The three types of leaf guards function as follows:Foam insert gutter protectors are simply long blocks of foam that sit in the gutters. The foam physically blocks large debris from entering the gutter system while allowing water to filter through the foam.Screened gutter guards provide protection with a fine mesh made of aluminum or fabric. Screen guards are caulked onto the top and back of the gutter runs. Leaves cannot pass through the mesh. Debris small enough to pass through the mesh is washed out the downspout.Solid cover leaf guards are often considered the best gutter guards. Also known as surface tension systems, solid cover guards are vinyl covers that fit over the gutter. Solid leaf guards include a guard edge. Water gathers on the guard edge and enters the gutter through slots in the gutter guards.Limitations of Gutter GuardsManufacturers claim that installing leaf guards eliminates the need for gutter cleaning. In fact, some degree of maintenance is required even with the best gutter guards.While screened gutter protectors prevent large leaves from entering the gutter system, leaves can build up on top of the mesh, blocking the free flow of water into the gutters. Small debris such as seed heads and evergreen needles can pass through the mesh. While most small debris will flush down the downspout, over time such material can clog gutters.Solid cover gutter guards arguably provide more protection than screened gutter protection, but small debris can still build up in the gutters over time. As for foam inserts, heavy rain may overwhelm their relatively slow water flow rate, causing gutters to overflow.On the plus side, the best gutter guards reduce the risk of clogged gutters. Homes with leaf guards still need regular gutter maintenance, but gutter cleaning is less messy and time-consuming.Need More Help?If you need professional help with your project, LendingTree Home Pros can help.The good news is that LendingTree Home Pros maintains a directory of home service professionals and can match you with a home pro in your area. All the home pros listed in the LendingTree Home Pros directory are properly licensed and insured and are backed by a $10,000 money-back guarantee!Let LendingTree Home Pros help you find a pro today!