It had been an open secret in the industry for decades. Gutter protection just didn’t work very well. That was until innovator Alex Higginbotham came along.
Despite the marketing claims that a homeowner would never have to clean their gutters again, the promises turned out to be what remained empty, not homeowner’s gutters.
No Innovation: Every Gutter Protection System had a Major Flaw
Reverse curve gutter protection was the “new” system of the 1980s (although they were invented back in 1908). The theory was that water would flow around their curves and through a small opening into the gutter, while debris would conveniently fall off. But in reality a lot of debris would follow the water into the opening, quickly clogging the curve or the gutter. Given the expense of most reverse curve systems, that was not the result any homeowner or installer was looking for.
Sponges, the brainchild of the 1970s, gained popularity in the 1990s. This form of gutter protection filled a gutter with a porous material, were simple to install and instantly successful at keeping out debris. Most also trapped debris and hardened into a brick like object that kept water out of a gutter, too.
Wide screens kept out large debris and let water in, but small debris could get in, particularly in the spring when trees bud, quickly causing clogs.
Fine screens, which had been around since the 1890s, were better at keeping out debris, but water could fill the openings between the threads, effectively creating a solid surface that water wouldn’t flow through. These systems failed in the rain when people expected them to work.
Where did that leave homeowners and companies selling gutter protection? Many reputable companies chose not to sell branded gutter protection at all. Others supported multi-truck service departments that dealt with customer complaints that their system wasn’t working. The industry standard was that after 3 years, you’d be back servicing 33% of your installs. That’s a pretty poor track record.
Then, in 1999, Alex Higginbotham, a roofing and siding contractor with a knack for solving problems, finally had a eureka moment that began what became microfiltration gutter protection. He was the first person to overcome the problem that had plagued gutter protection for decades. He figured out how to make a fine screen work by preventing it from clogging with tiny debris or overshooting with water.
Many of his first products failed, but after years of testing, listening to what installers and homeowners had to say and taking those comments to task, he refined microfiltration gutter guards into the products that MGP sells today.