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MasterShield vs LeafFilter in Seattle

MasterShield vs LeafFilter in Seattle

Why MasterShield is better than LeafFilter Gutter Guards

LeafFilter and MasterShield were invented by the same guy, Edward “Alex” Higginbotham. LeafFilter and MasterShield are both micro-mesh gutter guard/gutter protection systems. He patented the LeafFilter micromesh in 2001. It worked pretty well for what else was available at that time, but it didn’t fix everything (as discussed below). So Higginbotham redesigned and improved his ideas, and in 2004 he released MasterShield. Because of how product licensing works, LeafFilter as a product is still around but Alex is not involved. It’s a design “dead end” so he moved on. Nevertheless, Higginbotham has worked exclusively with MasterShield since its creation and no longer views his fledgling LeafFilter to be the best available technology. For example just last year MasterShield improved its design even further by weaving copper threads throughout its mesh to fight algae and moss growth. LeafFilter has not changed its design since 2001.

If you want the details, don’t skip this video. It really tells you everything you need to know:


Junk on a shelf

LeafFilter “boasts” of an 11º shedding angle. Let’s put that in perspective, that means for every 2.5” up, it’s 12” sideways or commonly referred to as 2.5/12 pitch. A typical roof pitch is 6/12. a 2.5/12 is a low enough slope that a roofer or architect would often recommend a “flat” roof membrane like PVC or torch down because…water can pond on it if there’s any debris!

This mat of debris will block water from even touching the guard, diverting it right to the ground. Why pay for this, you’ll need to clean it just as much as your old gutters!

LeafFilter shelf

How well does LeafFilter handle corners?

What is it?
A LeafFilter wide-mesh version roof valley corner. A pretty new installation.

What does it show?
LeafFilter switches from micromesh to wide-mesh in its corners to allow for increased water capacity. They also install “dams” to prevent waterfalls over the front of the gutter.

What does it mean?
This was a pretty new install. Nevertheless, you can see clearly there is debris already stuck in this corner. What this really means will become clear with the next photo.

LeafFilter gutter

What is it?
A LeafFilter wide-mesh version roof valley corner. An established installation.

What does it show?
It shows debris piled up. Despite the dam, it also shows debris spilling out at the edges anyway.

What does it mean?
If that first picture was “before”, you can consider this the “after” picture. These were taken from different houses, but it’s the result you would expect. The biggest implication here is that all that stuff sitting at the edge of your roof can actually be worse than having no gutter at all. At least then, wet debris will not soak water into your roof edge and cause you thousands of dollars in roof damage.

LeafFilter gutter

Here’s what it looks like without the “diverter”

To be sure, it’s normal to have some debris piled up in your roof’s valleys. Yet in all three of these pictures it’s very clear that the LeafFilter gutter guard is forming a shelf and blocking more debris than would otherwise be there, resulting in waterfalls.

LeafFilter corner debris

How well does LeafFilter handle shingle grit, shingle oil, and algae?

You might be thinking, “so what about those corners? That’s the toughest area to get right. Besides, my roof doesn’t have any of those.”

Well, here’s just a straight run.

This part of the home doesn’t have a lot of pine needles or other debris. Instead, this LeafFilter is blocked by shingle oil and algae, which has made it waterproof (note that this doesn’t technically mean the “gutter” is plugged). You can see as much because of all the stuff dripping from the edge. Debris simply can’t get to the underside of the gutter unless it’s carried there by water. And the only reason water is on the underside here in such quantities is because the LeafFilter is clogged up.

LeafFilter straight run

LeafFilter is a metal mesh in a plastic case

Plastic is pretty neat stuff. But there is a good reason Higginbotham tried using PVC for LeafFilter and switched to all metal construction for MasterShield. It doesn’t take long for the sun to warp and distort LeafFilter’s plastic substrate. In direct sunlight, the plastic expands; when it cools down again, the metal mesh screen wants to stay where it is, but the plastic casing shrinks. When this happens, the micromesh bubbles and separates from its casing. Once the filter is no longer in contact with the substrate underneath, the rainwater will overshoot the filter because the surface tension of the mesh is so high. MasterShield’s superior design solves this.

What is it?
LeafFilter on a straight run. Fairly new installation.

What does it show?
LeafFilter has warped and distorted, forming bubbles and separating the mesh filter from the substrate.

What does it mean?
This distortion occurred in the summer. Once the rain started up again, the homeowner couldn’t figure out why water was pouring over her gutters since the filter looked clean. You can also see how some of the shingles get lifted up and their undersides exposed to the elements because of the LeafFilter warping.

LeafFilter warping

Watch this video to see a PVC filter that has bubbled:

Don’t all gutter guards or gutter filters need to be cleaned?

Most microfilters eventually suffer from “filter caking.” Caking is a film that forms on the filter and can reduce or stop the flow of water through the gutter (think of dryer lint). We have found that many homeowners assume that all filters need to be cleaned. This is where MasterShield stands apart from the competition: MasterShield uses patented tangential flow cross-filtration to prevent filter cake from debris. Coupled with the innovation of copper interleaved mesh to inhibit algae growth, it’s really the ultimate in gutter protection.

Other microfilter systems, like LeafFilter, are designed to force water and particles at holes in a “dead end” style of filtration where it’s a simple strainer. This results in some not making it through; similar to your car’s oil filter.

With the MasterShield filter, the majority of the flow travels across the surface of the filter as it gets siphoned through, rather than straight into the filter. This helps wash away the filter cake during filtration, so there’s no worry of the filter clogging or needing to be cleaned. from simple debris shedding.

If you are interested in installing microfilter gutter protecton on your home, install a system that’s proven to work on homes in Puget Sound Area. Contact Leafless in Seattle today for a free estimate on the installation of MasterShield gutter guards in Seattle, Kent, Tacoma or the surrounding area.