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TRA Snow and Sun, Inc. offers AIA continuing education course, “Roofing Solutions for Alpine Regions”

 

roofing solutions in alpine regions, continuing educationIn response to requests from architects and other construction specifiers, TRA Snow and Sun has decided to continue with the popular continuing education course, “Roofing Solutions for Alpine Regions”.  

Learning how to protect people and property from dangerous falling snow and ice just got much easier with the online course created by TRA Snow and Sun and approved by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). When an architect designs a building there are hundreds of decisions to make besides the obvious, visual components that make up an attractive and functional building: what type of window to specify, what color carpet, or what type of roof are obvious ones. There are some specifications that are vital to the safety of those who will use the building and create liability for the architect and contractors.

If the building is located in a snowy, cold climate, special consideration should be given to the proper design and engineering of devices to retain snow and ice on the roof. Most construction professionals don’t realize the importance of snow retention devices and how critical they are in alpine regions.

Terry Anderson, nationally respected roofing consultant and owner of TRA Snow and Sun and Anderson Associates Consulting, has established himself and his companies as experts in the roof snow retention industry over 35 years and is co-author of the Concrete and Clay Tile Design Criteria for Cold and Snow Regions. The AIA online course, Roofing Solutions for Alpine Regions provides one credit hour of continuing education credit for architects wishing to maintain their license. It is also available for anyone wishing to understand the best way to design a roof in a cold or snowy climate. It incorporates Anderson’s extensive experience and deals specifically with:

  • The common roofing challenges that are unique to cold climates.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of the most common solutions to snow and ice on roofs.
  • The accepted roof design practices in Europe as compared to those in the United States and Canada.
  • The concepts and effectiveness of roof ventilation and snow retention in reducing snow and ice problems.
  • Several factors to be considered in the proper engineering of roof snow retention devices.

The course is available online (Ron Blank) or online (AEC Daily) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Credits are automatically submitted to AIA, CSI and other organizations by AEC Daily, one of the largest providers of free continuing education for architects, engineers, contractors, specifiers, and other construction professionals.

AIA Continuing Education, Roofing Solutions in Alpine Regionsroofing solutions for alpine regions

TRA Snow and Sun, Inc., located in American Fork, Utah, offers Roof Snow Retention Devices, Solar Racking Systems and Roof Ventilation and Flashing Solutions. They provide all customers, from the individual homeowner to the big developer, free engineered designs for all their systems. For more information call Devin Hancock at 800-606-8980.

 

The Importance of Snow Retention

metal roof with snow guards in snow storm

Winter is on its way and snow accumulation is imminent across the U.S. The traditional approach to snow accumulation on homes and businesses is to remove it or allow it to slide off as it softens and melts. Unfortunately, this approach can lead to injuries or property damage and is not optimal for home energy efficiency in the winter. Snow retention on the roof can solve both of these problems by acting as an insulating force to retain heat indoors, as well as enabling snow to evenly melt off the roof without abruptly sliding off in a massive block. Here are some ways in which snow retention can benefit your home this winter.

  • Snow retention devices are mounted on the roof to prevent snow from dislodging in large masses and causing damage or injury to people or property below. They also prevent roof damage that will occur from prolonged ice dams.
  • Snow retention devices can be installed on any sloped roof in any area that receives snow. Snow fences and snow brackets are all versions of these snow retention devices, and are highly practical and cost effective solutions for heavy snow and ice. Here are some images of our new Snow Bracket I – Apex (valley & crest) for corrugated metal roofs.

 

Snow Bracket I (Valley) – Apex

Snow Bracket I (Crest) – Apex

 

  • Installing snow retention devices in strategic areas can help guard against injury and property damage over walkways, entryways, parking lots, congregation spaces, roof protrusions, and valuable landscaping.
  • Heat loss through the roof is a primary contributor to energy inefficiency during the winter. Maintaining a layer of snow on the roof can help to retain heat during the cold weather.

Installing Snow Brackets

Generally, snow brackets should be professionally installed by a licensed roofing or general contractor. This will ensure that the brackets are installed correctly, in the right locations, and that the proper quantity is used. There are a few factors that are considered when installing snow brackets. These include: average amount of snow at the location, snow load, pitch of the roof, type of roof and sheathing thickness, strength of the snow bracket, and type of fasteners. Considering these things will determine the number of brackets required for the roof. Snow brackets are not that difficult to install, but a roofing contractor will have the experience and safety devices to securely work on the roof and complete the installation efficiently.

At TRA Snow and Sun, we engineer and layout each project free of charge using the unique factors specific to your project. TRA Snow and Sun representatives will work with you to design the most efficient snow retention system. We can design your roof to work with a variety of applications. Just give us your project details & we will design your Snow Retention System to fit your project. For more information, call TRA Snow and Sun at 800-606-8980 or email at info@trasnowandsun.com.

                               

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Could An Urban Roof Avalanche Affect You?

Ice_dam_slate_roof

 

In the next couple of days, a wintry mix could make things dicey on the mountains and even in your neighborhoods. That’s why avalanche forecasters are urging caution. Nicole Vowell reports from KSL Channel 5 New.

 

 

To help avoid such avalanche conditions there are several factors that one must evaluate when determining if a particular building requires a snow retention system.

The first question you should pose is “What would happen if snow slides off the roof?”

The second question is “Do we care?”

When snow slides off of a roofing surface, it can come crashing down or slide off and then piles up on whatever is below the edge of the roof. Snow retention is frequently used to protect landscaping around the perimeter of the building, to protect guttering systems around the edge of the roof, and to keep snow from piling either on a lower roof level or decks, sidewalks and at garage entrances. If nothing below the roof can be damaged by this avalanche of snow and ice, it may be best to let the snow and ice slide off unhindered.

However, what if what is below the roof could be damaged?

WHY SNOW RETENTION IS NEEDED

During the winter months, as snow accumulates on your home, gravity will begin to pull it down the slope of your roof. There are many reasons this can be harmful to your home or even dangerous. In worst structural cases, this can lead to damage to costly gutter systems, structural damage to lower roof levels, and even destruction of mature landscaping around the perimeter of a home.

Low-slope roofs with parapet walls naturally keep snow and ice on the roof. On a sloped roof, however, large chunks of snow and ice can slide off as the snow melts. Avalanching snow is probable on roofing systems with a steep enough slope and/or a low coefficient of friction. This is especially dangerous for pedestrians walking below.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SNOW RETENTION SYSTEM

There are many types of roofing materials, each has advantages and disadvantages and each should be considered when determining the placement of snow retention on the building.

When considering whether to install a snow retention system on your roof, you may first want to consider what type of roof you have. Will your roof allow snow to slide? Probably.  In places with heavy snows, like areas in Utah, it is common for snow to slide off of all types of roof systems, leading to heavy ice and snow build up in gutters, which causes damage over time. If you have a metal, tile, slate or membrane roof with a pitch of 1/12 or greater, snow will definitely slide off and cause problems.

WE CAN HELP…

TRA snow retention systems are available for all types of roofs and come in a variety of options. The specific snow retention equipment recommended for your roof will depend on the type of roof system installed, the pitch of the roof, snow load, sheathing type, how old the building is and budget.

Our snow fences, brackets, and clamps are all types of snow retention systems that prevent large sheets of snow or ice from falling off a pitched roof. The systems hold the snow on the roof so it can gradually melt off, preventing damage to people and objects below.

At TRA Snow and Sun, we engineer and layout each project free of charge using the unique factors specific to your project. TRA Snow and Sun representatives will work with you to design the most efficient snow retention system. We can design your roof to work with a variety of applications. Just give us your project details & we will design your Snow Retention System to fit your project. For more information, call Ben Anderson at TRA Snow and Sun at 800-606-8980, ben@trasnowadsun.com, or visit: www.trasnowandsun.com                                                                                                           

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When Strength Really Matters

snow falling on carsIce_dam_slate_roof

Keeping snow and ice from avalanching off a roof requires a system of superior strength.  When strength really does matter to save lives and prevent damage to property, how does a home or business owner know what snow retention product is strong enough?

How does someone decide what product measures up?

How does one decide the best method of installing a safe and reliable roof snow retention system?

If your answer to these questions is, “I can find that out.  I’ll just look it up online under building codes or ask my roofing contractor.” 

Well, good luck.

There are NO codes for roof snow retention!  None.  Nil.  Nada.  (Our owner, Terry Anderson, is serving on a committee right now to finally establish standards.  Watch for updates on this in the future!)  If a contractor starts sitting codes or standards, be wary.  The contractor might have his own standards, and we sure hope they all do, but there are no national or international standards for snow retention.

This makes it very important for owners, architects, engineers, and contractors to take extra care when designing a snow retention system. At TRA Snow & Sun, we seek to offer high-quality snow retention devices ENGINEERED for the unique snow & ice and building conditions relative to each specific project.

Snow retention as a science has emerged as a technological know-how for human safety. The laws of physics have to be used when holding back lots of destructive snow and ice. Annual assets and personal damage from destructive sliding snow and ice is in the millions, however, the price of a human life is incalculable.  If someone dies as a result of no snow retention or faulty snow retention, the liability threat to household owners and business proprietors is astronomical.

By retaining snow on the roof of a building and allowing even snow melt-off, injuries to residents/guests and property below the roof of a building can be avoided, saving money and limiting the possibility of personal loss. By installing snow retention you can:

  • Prevent danger to residents and guests.
  • Prevent costly roof and property damage.
  • Maintain safe access, keeping entrances/walkways free of snow and ice.
  • Promote energy efficiency by retaining snow which is a good insulation blanket.
  • Trust in the best with the highest quality snow retention devices.

How does one avoid the potential pitfalls to a bad snow retention product?

It can get perplexing with several hundreds of different snow guard types and designs to consider from. With a TRA snow retention system, you know you’re safe because we have gone through extensive product testing. Our products are built to last to the fail point of the snow retention system, not just the product. Unlike other plastic type snow guards that turn yellow and fail over time, TRA’s snow retention systems are superior in strength. Our superior snow retention is designed to manage snow migration on any type of roofing is made of stainless steel or brass.

plastic vs TRA

TRA CLAMP-ON SNOW FENCE vs PLASTIC GLUE-ON SNOW GUARDS

 

In simple terms, a first-rate snow retention product coupled with a reliable and safe FREE engineered spacing layout will help lessen the legal responsibility related to the unexpected slid of snow and ice from roofs. All requesting clients can receive free engineered layouts within 2 working days for each project’s specific requirements. For a free layout, data sheets, specs & quote contact us at 855-542-1861.

 

TRA Division 07 7253 Snow Guard Specifications Have Just Been Updated

Spec Logo

TRA Snow and Sun knows how important it is that specifying roof snow retention be as worry free and easy as possible for architects, designers and homeowners. So over the last several months we worked hard with our partners to improve the quality and ease of creating a good, safe, and specific roof snow retention specification.

We are proud to announce that our Division 07 7253 Roof Snow Retention specifications have just been enhanced and updated!

Designers and contractors can now read and download the snow guard specifications using MasterSpec or with SpecLink. They can also contact TRA Snow and Sun via phone or through our contact page at anytime and we will e-mail the new snow guard specifications which can be merged into master specification documents.

With our updated snow guard specifications, designers  have the necessary knowledge base to create the perfect snow retention system for their unique project design. We have made it as easy as ever!

TRA Snow & Sun roof snow retention products provide superior benefits to building designers and contractors because they get a safe SYSTEM, not just a good product. We test and engineer our products based on the components of their specific roof system (snow guard, sheathing, attachment, slope, snow-load, etc.). This dramatically decreases the designer or contractor’s liability!

TRA provides a FREE, no obligation, ENGINEERED LAYOUT within 2 business days – 855-542-1861. Website: https://trasnowandsun.com/architects/.

Choose from zinc-plated steel, copper or stainless steel. All steel can be powdered coat to match the roof color. Roof types include metal panel, asphalt & cedar shingles, corrugated metal, flat granule metal, simulated slate, single ply, slate, tile & wood shake.

Snow Retention – The Invisible Code

Snow retention codes do not seem to be a priority in the United States’ roofing industry. But it is very common to see snow and ice sliding off of a metal roof’s slippery surface. Snow and ice crushes cars, and damages the roof, gutters, and landscape.  In some cases, snow and ice cascading off roofs has killed people. Codes for snow retention systems are essential to protect people and property from sliding ice and snow.

There are many reasons snow retention systems fail and why we need codes in place.  Some examples are:

PRODUCT FAILURE

snow retention system

This snow retention system was not engineered for some variable of the project that caused it to fail.

The snow guard was not strong enough to hold the load it was carrying.

Anyone can cast a wax snow guard, spread some adhesive on the bottom, and tell the consumer how to install it without any testing of the product or the system. Codes would provide a standard to ensure adequately designed products are utilized.

SHEATHING/ROOFING MATERIAL FAILURE

Roofing material is inadequately secured for the shear created by sliding snow.

If the roofing material is not securely fastened to the deck (specifically on standing seam metal roofs), added weight can cause the standing seam metal roof to slide right off, along with the rest of the roofing material and snow retention system. There is a code requirement in place for wind uplift on standing seam metal roofs, but not for shear strength.

Screws or fasteners pull out.

sliding snow and ice

Sliding snow can be incredibly dangerous.

When installing snow retention on roof sheathing, the thickness and type of the sheathing determines the fastener pull-out strength.  If one is installing a snow retention system on 7/16-in. OSB board, the fastener will fail more quickly than when using ¾-in. plywood.  (See chart below.) When designing a layout for a project, many snow retention manufacturers do not test for these variations.  If the snow retention system was designed for ¾-in. plywood and the project is using 7/16-in. OSB board, the whole system needs to be redesigned.

The fastener does not penetrate the sheathing.

If the fastener/screw is not penetrating the sheathing, the snow guard will not have the holding strength for which it was designed.

 

 

ADHESIVE FAILURE

plastic snow guards

These plastic snow guards fell to the ground because the adhesive did not bond properly

When using an adhesive, if the surface is not free of dust, dirt, oil, or waterproofing; or it is not clean and dry, the adhesive will not adhere properly.
If the temperature is not above 50 degrees F, the sealant will not cure. If a load is placed on the snow guard before the 28-day cure time, the snow guard is more likely to fail. (This is according to the Technical Data Sheet  for SB-190)

SYSTEM FAILURE

The system is not designed for the roof slope and snow load.

When designing a snow retention system, factors change from project to project: the slope, roof type, sheathing type, and roof snow load.  If the snow retention system is not engineered for the variables of the project, it can fail.
Most snow guards are not tested to the fail point of the system.

Many snow guard manufacturers claim theirs are tested, and many of them are, but they are not tested to the fail point of the entire system.  The product may be tested to maintain its shape, but was it tested to stay on the roof?  It’s great if the product stays in one piece, but not if the fastener fails, the adhesive fails, and the sheathing fails.

snow retention code

A snow retention code needs to be put in place to help prevent injury to people and damage to property.

INSTALLATION FAILURE

The product was not installed to manufacturer’s specifications.

The manufacturer’s instructions need to be followed meticulously in order to ensure safety and to keep warrantees in effect.  Many manufacturers have specific torque requirements, placement, and maintenance instructions.  If these instructions are not followed, the system can fail and the manufacturer is not at fault.

Obviously, there are valid reasons why the United States should establish codes for snow retention on roofs.  Why hasn’t this happened?  A few reasons could be:

  1. Snowfall occurs in certain areas of the country but not nationwide; therefore, the demand for codes is minimal.
  2. Not many deaths occur due to ice and snow sliding.
  3. Property damage is localized.
  4. The insurance industry is not pushing for this type of code.

There are many other codes in place to protect people and property; so why not for snow retention?  We have codes for wind uplift and ICC test standards for product failures due to wind and moisture penetrations, to name a few.  How many life threatening events need to occur before we do the right thing when it comes to a code for snow retention on roofs?

It’s time to make the invisible snow retention code visible.

References

  1. Surebond Technical Data Sheet SB-190.

About the author

Terry E. Anderson has been in the roofing industry for over 35 years. He is the owner of Anderson Associates Consulting and president of T.R.A.-MAGE, Inc., a manufacturer of roof snow and sun accessories. Anderson was sought after to solve tile roof problems, eventually researching solutions to the frequent structural damage caused by sliding snow and ice. Traveling to Europe, Terry studied how the roofing industry there successfully dealt with snow and ice issues. Using his years of experience and research, he coauthored Concrete and Clay Tile Roof Design Criteria for Cold and Snow Regions. Anderson founded T.R.A. Snow and Sun, now in partnership with MAGE and known as T.R.A.-MAGE, and is recognized as a leader in snow retention systems. He is a member of RCI, WSRCA, and on the technical committee for the Tile Roofing Institute (TRI).

Published: Interface Dec 2011

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Codes and Roof Snow Retention

Published: Interface – March 2005

snow retention code, snow retention

Damage to flat seam metal roof

snow retention code, snow retention

Damage to flat seam metal roofing

Picture three feet of snow and ice sitting on the roof above your front porch.  The sun is heating the frozen snow, and your four-year-old son is riding the brand new bike he got for Christmas.  The codes that were followed when the roofing contractor installed the snow retention on your roof will protect you and your son from being hurt by snow that might fall off the roof, right?  What would you think if I told you there are no coeds to protect us from falling snow and ice?  Thousands of codes have been developed for construction all over the country.  However, roof snow retention has never been addressed.  Why do we stand by and allow millions of dollars of property damage and even deaths to occur every year from sliding snow?  Codes governing products, installation procedures, and standards are not in place to protect the consumer.  In fact, currently anyone can cast a wax snow guard, spread some cement on the bottom, tell the consumer how to install it without any testing whatsoever, and then market it.  Inferior products are out there with no consumer protection in place.  Roofers and roof consultants are left with the daunting task of judging whether or not what they are specifying and installing will provide adequate safety and effectiveness in snow areas.

As a roof consultant, what methods should be used to determine which types of snow retention products to recommend?  Are you assuming that the snow retention manufacturers have engineered their snow retention products from the fail point of the roof system?  Are the current U.S. codes providing the standard to assure safety from sliding snow?

snow retention code, snow retention

Dormers can be torn off

I began an investigation to answer these questions.  It has been my conclusion that architect, roof consultants, builders, and roofing contractors make a lot of assumptions concerning snow and ice, and we often fail.  The simple truth is that most snow retention manufacturers do not design their products from the fail point of the roof system, resulting in many failures!  There are no ICC codes for snow retention.  The norm for the roofing industry is to just do what you have done in the past or guess that three rows at the eave of the roof will be just fine.

snow retention code, snow retention

People and property below can be in danger

There is another industry that one would think ought to have taken a lead in this life-threading concern.  The insurance industry is often expected to pay for failures in adequate systems.  In the state of Utah, where I live, two children have been killed from snow and ice falling off roofs.  As you can see in the photos, snow and ice have caused death, vehicle damage, and roof and gutter damage.  What is the common reason for denying claims caused by falling snow and ice? An “Act of God,” not covered by the policy.

Is snow and ice falling off the roof truly an act of God?  It is true that we don’t have control over snow and ice movement on roofs.  Many respected members of the architectural and roofing consulting industries have claimed that snow guard and snow brackets simply do not work.  There is a bit of truth to these assertions as some of the photos display.  However, the majority of the time, good design and installation will prevent glacial snow and ice movement on roofs and prevent many unnecessary claims to insurance companies.

Comparing how Europeans and Americans design their snow retention systems explain some reasons why the standards in America are not working.  In America we have no standards, whereas in Europe, designers look at the potential fail points of the roof and then design the system from the starting point.

There are six key questions to ask when planning a roof snow retention system:

snow retention code, snow retention

  1. What is the sheathing type and thickness and how is it attached to the substrate?
  2. How is the snow bracket attached to the sheathing?  How many fasteners per bracket are required and what is the pullout load of each fastener in the particular type of sheathing?
  3. What are the fail point loads of the snow bracket?
  4. What is the slope of the roof?
  5. What is the ground snow load?
  6. Where and how might ice dams occur?

After they have gathered all this information, European engineers develop layout charts using all the data.  These charts include specific types of roof and snow brackets installed on different sheathing types and thicknesses, snow load, roof slopes, and the number of snow brackets needed per roofing square.  Then snow brackets are placed according to the layout charts from eave to the ridge, which eliminates all snow and ice movement.  This protocol results in placement of snow retention devices from eave to ridge, never just along the edge.

snow retention code, snow retention

Snow fences used alone were not able to prevent damage.

I have used the above steps on roof design project throughout snow areas of the U.S. and Canada and have had great success from following these six engineering guidelines.  The snow and ice is restrained in place across the entire roof.  It just melts in place in the spring, eliminating damage to people or property and so-called “Acts of God.”

I am currently working with local code bodies to submit a standard to the International Codes Council (ICC) requiring snow retention manufacturers to provide certified data from the fail point of the roof system and not just from the standpoint of the individual snow retention device.  Roof consultants’ support of new standards will improve our roofing industry and provide for the safety of people, property, and roof designs.  Until a comprehensive standard is accepted and approved, all roof consultants would be wise to work with manufacturers who will provide them with this type of comprehensive data and then design roofs in accordance with the six suggestions above.  This will help ensure customers are getting a quality design and protect consultants from lawsuits if someone is maimed or killed or property is damaged by falling snow and ice.

Let’s all work together as RCI members and see that such standards are adopted.  If you have question on this article or would like to help to push this stand please contact writer at (801) 756-9811.

About the Author: Terry Anderson has been involved in the roofing industry for over 25 years and is the owner of Anderson Associates consulting in Highland, Utah. He is a member of RCI, WSRCA, and NRCA. Anderson has also served on the committee for tile roof applications in snow and ice areas for NTRMA and WSRCA. He co-authored the Concrete and Clay Tile Roof Design Criteria Manual for Cold and Snow Regions, published by the NTRMA and WSRCA. Anderson has conducted research in Europe.

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