It’s summertime, but there’s no better time to be aware of the danger of sliding snowfall to your roof. Knowing now can save you later.
Shedding the snow throughout the winter can be detrimental to your roof and dangerous to anyone near your roof.
Metal roofs and other roofs besides metal roofs often have compacted snow falling off them during colder months that can be dangerous to both metal roofs and the ground around them.
A roof avalanche from slate roofs in a neighborhood can cause extensive damage to your property and damage to yourself with the sudden release of snow that has not had the chance to melt completely.
Not only does the sliding and scraping cause damage to your roof and anything waiting below on your property, but the resultant dams can also cause damage.
Have you heard of an ice dam?
If not, we can be pretty sure that you have at least seen one. They’re common in Utah on roofs that don’t have snow guards.
An ice dam is a buildup of compacted snow that occurs as snow is pushed down the roof, but does not quite make it off of the roof. It totters there, a constant warning to anyone down below that the slightest sliding motion could result in intense, crushing weight falling off past the gutters.
As all that compounds, the snow starts to melt and then refreeze.
You can see that the dam extends farther than the roof and as it builds up, it puts even more pressure on the edge of your roof.
To stop dams from developing and to snow the snow load from scraping and pulling at your roof, you must stop the movement.
Snow guards, in case you don’t know, are protection to keep snow from damaging your roof.
A remarkable, simple technology, snow guards retain snow in an installed system across the roof of your house that has worked perfectly for European homes and has migrated recently to the American roof.
Interestingly, once you stop the movement of ice and snow you will also find that the snow acts as an insulator for your home.
When your attic is ventilated properly, you can assure that the snow keeps your warmth inside of your home.
It may seem counterintuitive that extra snow on your home will keep it warmer, but it’s true.
No matter your roof type, adding snow guards will provide snow retention that keeps snow on your roof and allows it to melt as the sun rises.
There are different snow guards for different roofs; some of the roof types that can use snow guards include:
Keeping snow on your roof with snow guards, whether it’s snow guards for a standing seam roof or a roof with skylights, might make you concerned for the safety of your building.
Snow guards are still relatively new to the American roofing industry. They’re not overly popular. Why should you use a snow guard system?
But really, to prevent damage, the installation of snow guard systems using the right installation guides is what works. Pedestrians, landscaping, and your roof itself are all in danger from snow damage if you don’t enact snow retaining methods through snow guards systems.
Snow guards stop the snow from falling using snow retention methods.
Although there are many snow retention products, snow guards are generally seen as the best snow retention options for your roof.
Snow guards are:
Your house can be protected with the simple installation of snow guards that break snow into small amounts and allow it to melt into water that will run off into your gutters.
This stops the potential for a standing seam roof to tear under the weight of the snow, the potential for damage to property or people, and all of your worries when it comes to snow damage. If you live somewhere with heavy snow fall, snow guards take a lot off your plate.
Finding snow guards designed for your roof is easy: businesses like TRA Snow and Sun work with contractors to design snow guards installation guides for your roof in particular.
Most roofing consultants suggest that roofs are built in a way that sheds the snow and ice off of the roof throughout the winter.
But that’s actually a bad thing. Installation of snow guards will protect your roof to a greater extent than a “safety measure” that causes more harm than actual safety. Think about it like this: if you build a roof that pushes large volumes of snow and ice off of your roof, you will probably find that as the snow and ice scrape across your roof, it will cause damage.
But with the installation of snow guards, stops installed at engineered intervals keep the snow atop your building.
It melts under the sun and doesn’t bother anyone.
As we work with you to develop a more effective snow retention plan for your roof, we will ensure that your roof is safer to be around throughout winter months, that the snow will insulate your home, and that your roof will not endure as much stress, which results in damage, next snow season.
Right now, our homes are comfortably situated in the summer heat that’s keeping the usual mountain snow at bay. But in six months, we’ll all be under the usual, familiar white covering that can cause so many problems for our roofs and homes in general. And, like it or not, snow with all its magical qualities isn’t great for you as an individual, either, unless you have snow guards for your metal roof.
Snow falling might be a beautiful sight, but if it doesn’t melt completely on your roof type with the help of snow guards or another snow guard-like retention system, keeping snow from hurting you and your family in the winter months can prove to be difficult. To prevent damage, you need to make sure the snow stops compressing on your house to avoid a sudden release of an avalanche below. Different snow guards can be used on different roofs, but all snow guards designed to help your roof will get the job done. Snow guards will keep snow from compressing and snow guards will keep your house safe.
But maybe you’re not sold on snow guards just yet. Why aren’t snow guards included in every home design then? Why do you need snow guards? Are snow guards expensive?
Let’s make this more personal, so you can see the benefits for you and your home of installing a snow guard system on your metal roof. Picture three feet of snow and ice sitting on the metal 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 and shivering at the temperature outside.
You let this happen because you trust your metal roof. Metal roofs are prepared to protect against a roof avalanche, you’ve been told. The codes that were followed when the roofing contractor installed roof will protect you and your son from being hurt by snow that might fall off the roof, right?
Whether you’re working with a metal roof, slate roofs, a steel roof, or a standing seam metal roof, you’ll be protected from extensive damage when it comes to snow. That’s the trust you have in your contractor and your community. There are ordinances and codes keeping you safe.
That’s your government’s job and the job of any individual whose resources you purchased for a price while building your home. They sold you a great product, and, as part of the job and your construction project, they made sure that each shingle was safe. Right? They followed the codes.
Except there aren’t any codes referring to house protection from snow or installation of snow systems on your roof. Thousands of codes have been developed for construction all over the country. However, roof snow retention to keep dangerous snowfall from affecting your daily life has never been addressed. As a result, individuals who trusted the people building their house have neglected installation of snow protection for their roofs and suffered the consequences every year.
Why do we stand by and allow millions of dollars of property damage and even deaths to occur every year from sliding snow when adding snow guards to your building could easily solve the problem? Codes governing products, installation guides, 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. Your roof isn’t tested and tried against falling snow or the issues that are caused when snow can melt and cause problems when you don’t have snow guards in place.
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 guards 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? Installation of snow systems to stop sliding snow on slate and other roofs aren’t regulated. But you, as a homeowner, can control the installation that will protect you this upcoming winter.
Architects, roof consultants, builders, and roofing contractors make a lot of assumptions concerning snow and ice, and, as they are not guided by a consistent system process, they often fail. Our trial and error process hasn’t worked perfectly.
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 standard 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. Is this what our customers deserve for their roof systems?
Since the government isn’t protecting your roof, it’s up to various industries who have installed these systems in the winter for years. There is another industry that one would think ought to have taken a lead in this life-threatening concern. The insurance industry is often expected to pay for failures in adequate systems. In the state of Utah, children have been killed from snow and ice falling off roofs. Snow avalanches have caused death, vehicle damage, and roof and gutter damage. Since there’s no regulatory process that demands a house have protection against snowfall installed, insurance companies refuse to pay for these damages because they’re labeled as an “act of God”.
It is true that we don’t have control over snow movement on roofs. Small amounts of snow, when left on your roof for long periods of time, can create pressure so great it can tear through even the best roof. But refusing to acknowledge that a simple project with a verified contractor can improve the quality of your roof’s protection from snow is an outdated idea.
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:
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 and snow guards installed on different sheathing types and thicknesses, snow load, roof slopes, and the number of snow guards needed per roofing square.
Then snow guards are placed according to the layout charts from eave to the ridge, which eliminates all snow and ice movement. This protocol of snow guards placement results in placement of snow retention devices from eave to ridge, never just along the edge.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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>
2207 South 1070 West
Salt Lake City, UT. 84119
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.
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.
The Snow Bracket™ D – Apex is a permanent snow retention system that is aesthetically pleasing on any new asphalt shingled, simulated slate /or simulated shake 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 on.
Variety of Material Types
• Paintlok Steel: 16 ga
• Copper: 48 oz (ASTM B152)
• Stainless Steel: 16 ga (ASTM A240)
• 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.
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.
All Snow Brackets have been tested from the fail point of the system.
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:
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.
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.
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)
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
Unlike metal, plastic snow guards are usually attached to a roof using caulking, which is likely to fail for the following reasons:
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.
There are several factors that one must evaluate when determining if a particular building requires a snow guard retention system. 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.
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.
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 TRA Snow and Sun at 801-756-8666.
Terry Anderson, owner of TRA Snow and Sun, chairing a meeting in Washington, DC and webinar of the ASTM Committee for roof snow retention standards. Did you know there are currently NO roof snow retention standards to prevent needless deaths from snow and ice falling off a roof like what happened to a mom and her nine year old son on a skiing vacation at Kirkwood Resort in California last March? That MUST change! He is working hard to fix this issue.
TRA Snow and Sun knows that it is important to specify snow guard roof snow retention. Snow retention should 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 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 latest 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’s snow guard 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!
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.
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…
XYLAN BLACK HARDWARE BENEFITS
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.