“Should I buy self-cleaning gutters?”

Terrific question just in about gutters from Joel in Queensland about buying gutters:


“Hi Michael


I enjoy your blog and website. You must be busy so I’ll keep this short.


I’m thinking of fitting Smartflo gutters in a new sustainable off grid house.


From your blog I’m guessing you might use Smartflo gutters.


If so, have you had any problems with them in terms of:

                Significant loss of yield in heavy storm rain? 

                Significant blockage of the little filters?

                Sludge/organic matter building up in the enclosed gutter over years and if so how cleaned out?

                Frogs living in gutter?

                Any other problems worth knowing about before I buy?


If you can answer, thanks for your time, keep up the good work.







Here is my answer:


These Smartflo gutters have been tested and harvest more water than typical quad or u- shaped gutters in heavy rain.  Their efficiency increases as the u-shaped gutters block up with leaves and fine sediment (which easily gets through any mesh).


The filters can partially block up but I’ve never seen them fully block up.  They can be cleaned with a good hose down but I’ve only done that with one gutter which had leaves and litter on it for 17 years before the clean up.


There’s dramatically less sludge, build-up matter as the wind cleans or sweeps it off and over the gutter surface. In turn, there’s less sludge in your rain tank.


I’ve never seen or heard a frog in the gutter but if I did that would confirm it’s clean.  There is a build up of fine algae but tests at Newcastle uni show that this film cleans the water (Dr Peter Coombes: see research in my book, Sustainable House).


The main dis-incentive to buying Smartflo is they are twice the cost of u-shaped gutters because they have twice the amount of metal.  But mine have outlasted three other houses in my city block which have twice replaced their u-shaped gutters in the last 20 years.  Because there is no build up of sludge and acidic matter the closed gutters last longer.


Good luck,