Preventing Roof Ice Dams

The formation of ice dams on the roof can spell disaster for any homeowner and is an issue that must be solved quickly.  Ice dams are the name referring to the buildup of ice on the eaves of the roof which can cause standing water to be caught on the shingles.

How do ice dams form?

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An ice dam forms as heat from the home escapes through the roof and causes the snow that is on top of the roof to melt.  As the meltwater runs down the roof, it cools when it hits the parts of the roof that are not heated from the home, usually the eaves of the roof, and refreezes, causing the buildup of more and more ice until an ice dam has formed and has completely blocked the flow of melting water from the roof.

How to avoid ice dams?

When water is left standing on the roof, it has the potential to erode shingles and leak into the home, cause great amounts of water damage to both the roof of the home and possibly the interior of the home as well. But this damage can be avoided if the homeowner will take the appropriate steps in avoiding the buildup of ice dams.

  1. Secure the attic insulation. Insulating the attic of the home will allow less heat to escape and thereby largely eliminate the staggered snowmelt that leads to ice dams.
  2. Create ventilation. Both on the roof itself and from the attic through the roof at the corners, creating and installing ventilation will allow for the warm air to escape the sides of the home while allowing for cold air to run up the length of the roof to keep the snow cold and safe.
  3. Cap any hatches on the roof. Ceiling fans, attic hatches and other such openings allow for warm air to escape in droves. Sealing or capping these openings effectively will greatly reduce the amount of melt-water that has the potential to form an ice dam.
  4. Install snow brackets. Snow clips will help to retain the snow on the roof and will discourage the formation of ice dams by holding snow in place and allowing for an even and natural melt.

Rooftop Snow Retention – Solving the Mystery (L&L)

TRA will be presenting an open snow retention lunch and learn with the Associated General Contractors of Utah on February 12th, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. This lunch and learn is open to anyone who would like to attend. The cost for AGC members is $15 and for non-members is $20 which includes lunch. Follow the link to register. <To Register Click Here>

Event Location:

AGC Headquarters
2207 South 1070 West
Salt Lake City, UT. 84119

Event Description:

In the building world there are codes and standards for everything, that is except for rooftop snow retention.  That’s right, there are no national or local codes that that govern the engineering, manufacturing, testing, or installation of snow retention devices.  This is a dilemma for building professionals trying to deal with the safety issues caused by sliding snow and ice. 

This course discusses the primary reasons snow retention is needed on a roof and the science behind each type of system.  It explains why engineering is the key to a successful system and why a lack of engineering is the primary key to a system failing.  You will also explore many of the common objections to including snow retention on a building project and why they are worth the added expense in the long run.  Finally, you will learn how a good snow retention company will help bridge the gap created by the lack of codes and standards.

Snow Guards 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 crush cars, and damages the roof, gutters, and landscape.  In some cases, snow and ice cascading off roofs have 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 warranties 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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Is Plastic Snow Guard Retention Better Than Metal?

Every once in a while a customer will ask us why they should purchase our metal snow retention rather than the plastic ones they see. We typically don’t like plastic snow guards for many reasons.

The first reason is because of the type of adhesive used to attach plastic snow guards. Through our testing, we have found that failure exists when freeze-thaw temperature is introduced to the adhesive.
The second reason is they crack and deteriorate when continuously exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light (UV). See the images below.
 
The third reason, manufacturers don’t warranty failure when the plastic snow guards pull apart from the adhesive.
Because of this, metal snow guards are best for retention!

 

plastic vs TRA

TRA Metal Clamp-on vs Plastic Guards

 

Most plastics eventually become brittle when exposed to the sun.

Because of its tough nature, metal can withstand the sun’s destructive UV rays. Over time plastic will crack and deteriorate when continuously exposed to the sun. If you already have a metal roof, it simply does not make sense to put plastic on it. Metal snow guards will ensure that your metal roof is protected.

                        plastic-snow-guards-park-valley-school-9plastic-snow-guards-park-valley-school-8

Cracked, Brittle and Broken “Plastic Snow Guards”

 

TRA’s metal snow retention systems are attached securely using a variety of durable and strong mechanical methods.

Unlike metal, plastic snow guards are usually attached to a roof using caulking, which is likely to fail for the following reasons:

  • If the roof is dirty or wet when installing this makes the adhesive not adhere properly. When have you ever seen a truly clean roof?
  • More common than not snow guards are installed at temperatures below 40 degrees.
  • Caulking cure time can be more than 30 days above 40 degrees.
  •  Over time plastic will crack & deteriorate when continuously exposed to the sun UV.

 

1 rail snow guard for metal roof

TRA C21Z Clamp-on with Ice Flags 

 

Unlike plastic, metal lasts.

Plastic snow retention manufacturers generally do not warranty the attachment, just plastic snow guard. If a plastic snow guard fails, the architect or contractor becomes liable for the damage to property /or human life. This should be a big red flag to any property owners.

Next time you are near a roof with plastic snow guards, see if any are missing and let us know!

We recommend only metal snow retention because we know it can properly protect those in and around your home. For extra protection, we engineer from the sheathing up with the fastener and provide a warranty on the entire snow retention system. Before installation, we engineer a specific layout to see that the system is exactly what you need for your specific location and weather. Contact us with any of your project details and we’ll provide you with the best snow defense system that’ll get you ready for winter.

 

Snow Guards With A Fresh Look To Color Hardware

Take a look at these pictures for a fresh new snow guard clamp-on look. Our black Xylan hardware is now available for any colored clamp-on. Would this be your new snow retention look? Tell us by a simple comment on our contact page

Color Trends…

OUR PAINTED XYLAN BLACK HARDWARE!

XYLAN BLACK HARDWARE BENEFITS

    • New specialized color option for any colored clamp-on
    • Full paint application extending to the entire bolt thread
    • They’re resistant to heat and wear
    • Improves the functionality and life span by reducing the amount of wear 
    • Adds protection from corrosion
    • Stand out with a UNIQUE bold look 

WE CAN HELP…

TRA snow guards for 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 guard 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 guard 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 Guard Retention System to fit your project. For more information call TRA Snow and Sun at 800-606-8980.                                                                                                

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The Snow Has Landed!

WOW! Look at all that snow in Atlanta. As you watch the Falcons play football from your comfy home you know you’re safe and protected from dangerous weather.
What about if you attended the game in person?  How safe are you?
Just as the world-class Falcons prepare for the possibility of an incoming storm of opponents, the stadium has also prepared for all possibilities and so should you.
The $1.5 billion Mercedes Benz Stadium is using the best, as a game winning option when it comes to retaining snow on their roof with TRA Snow Retention

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 of 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.

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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Featured Spotlight “Snow Retention – D Bracket”

 Snow Bracket D

Snow Bracket™ D

A question once asked – On the roofs of many houses, along the eave, there are…best as I can describe it… shaped thingies. I’ve seen others that look octagonal and yet others that are round. I’ve seen them on steep roofs and not-so-steep roofs. My bank even has them. They look great, but do they do anything? 

The answer is yes. What you’re talking about are called snow guards for retaining snow on the roof. When snow and ice accumulate on the roof, they are pulled by gravity and want to slide down the slope of the roof. A well-designed snow retention system is intended to hold the snow on the roof so that it can melt in place.

At TRA Snow and Sun, we engineer and manufacture over 54+ variations of snow guards, and always welcome custom pieces made just for your roofing project. Yes, 54 may seem a lot, right? And your right it is, and here’s why – every roof design can be complex and is different from material, slope, shape, size, pitch, valleys, etc.., and ground snow loads vary significantly from one area to another. This is why we make several different engineered (from the fail point of the system) snow guards tailored to each unique roof designs for every roof type, new or existing, and in many styles that differ in form and function.

trasnowandsun, snow retention, solar mounting systemsSecure Attachment

trasnowandsun, snow retention, solar mounting systemsSuperior Strength

trasnowandsun, snow retention, solar mounting systemsVariety of Material Types

 

snow clips, snow guards, snow bracket

Our first featured spotlight for this month is our unique Snow Guard Bracket D. The Snow Bracket™ D, a permanent snow retention system that is aesthetically pleasing on asphalt shingle roofs. Choose between a vast array of painted powdered colors, available in standard mill finish of steel, copper or aluminum. The Snow Guard Bracket D fastens to roof sheathing to any new construction of an asphalt shingled roof.

Asphalt shingle roofs very common in the United States and it is important you have a Snow Bracket™ that fits the roof type you are installing the product one.

  Snow Bracket™ D

snow bracket d snow guardSnow-Bracket-D Maple-leafSnow-Bracket-D Sunburst

 

Dimensions

Length: 10″
Width: 1 3/16″
Height: 3″

Materials

• Paintlok Steel: 16 ga
• Copper: 48 oz (ASTM B152)
• Stainless Steel: 16 ga (ASTM A240)

 

Colors/Finishes

• Zinc Plated
• Powder coating available in many Colors

*We can provide Paintlock brackets unpainted BUT they must be painted before installing or rusting will occur. Also, available with attachments see images to the left with Maple & Sunburst.

Custom Designs and Engineering

At TRA Snow and Sun, we engineer and lay out each project free of charge using many factors specific to your roof. We then provide you with the snow retention plan, layout and product detail. TRA Snow and Sun representatives will work with you to design the most efficient snow retention system. Fill out our Snow Retention Checklist to get started.

Testing

All Snow Brackets have been tested from the fail point of the system.

Retro-fit Snow Retention. What to do?

One of my older relatives used to say, when confronted with a dilemma, “What to do, what to do….”  It made me chuckle!

But, this phrase describes a dilemma for people confronted with snow and ice avalanching off their already installed roof.  They want to keep the snow up there

snow clips, snow guards, snow bracket

rather than down there

Snow Avalanche Off A RoofFalling Snow in Park City, UT

but what is the best solution?

First of all, retrofit is similar as well as different from new construction.  Basic questions need to be answered for new and retrofit construction.

  • What is the slope?
  • What is the snowload in the area?
  • What type of roofing product is being used?
  • What type of sheathing is under the roofing material?

For retrofit, snow retention installers don’t have the luxury of applying the snow retention devices as the roofing material is installed in a new project.  This is when “What to do, what to do…” might be heard under their breath!

How do you keep snow and ice from falling off while also maintaining a water-tight system when the roofing is already on the roof?  How hard is it to do this?

Contractors need a simple and effective solution.

For asphalt shingles, simulated shake, and other similar roofs, using TRA’s H Snow Bracket, there is no need to pull back the headlap to install a device. Butyl or caulking can be applied on the surface of the roofing product, then the bracket is installed directly into the sheathing using screws.  A clip is then placed over the screws.

Snow-Bracket-H-Short

Snow Bracket H

Easy.  Effective.

The reason this system will work on retrofit is because TRA’s engineering is done using the specific factors as mentioned above.  When installed using the engineered layout, the roof will now hold back the snow and ice that would have fallen off, damaging people or property below.

At TRA Snow and Sun, we help you find an Engineered Solution.  Call us for a free layout, provided within 2 working days.

Snow Bracket H

Designed for most roof types

Available with or without fastener cover clip

Can be powder-coated to match roofing material

Available in 16 g steel, 48 oz copper, 26 g Cor-Ten, 16 ga stainless steel, .063″ aluminum

Finishes – Electro-galvanized, hot-dipped galvanized, mill finish aluminum, copper or Cor-Ten

Power-coating available in many colors.

Why Decorate? It’s Not Even Christmas!

If you drive by the TRA Snow and Sun manufacturing and office facility at 1657 S. 580 E. in American Fork, Utah, the first thing you will probably notice is the blue metal panel roof.  We like the all-American colors we chose for our company – RED, WHITE and BLUE and we like our building!HPIM0345

Like many manufacturing facilities, we have a metal roof on the production portion and concrete tile over the office section, and at 4500 feet altitude and snow/ice blessing Utah in the winter, we also needed to install snow retention.  We installed snow fences on the metal panels and Snow Bracket B’s on the concrete tile roof over the office, but a little roof decoration was needed!

We chose to enhance the look of the snow retention on our roof and, luckily, TRA Snow and Sun has a way to do that.  Note the MAPLE LEAVES on the snow guards.  These decorations do not impede the function of the snow retention in any way and add that enhanced look that some customers desire.

Maple leaf on TRA roof cropped

We really like them and think they add a nice feature to our roof.  Maybe we should have chosen the BEAR or the MOOSE, but we started making those later.

moose snow guard standing seambear clamp on snow guardtree clamp on snow guard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think?  Should we have used the TREE instead?

Take the survey and let us know which of our decorative enhancements you like best.  Should we make others?