How Roofing Codes Compare to Snow Guards

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.

The Scenario: No Snow Guards

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?

snowy suburban roofs need snow brackets

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.

The Truth

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.

Snow weighing down roof

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.

The Research that Led Us to Snow Guards

Brand new house with snow guards

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”.

death by snow roof incident

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.

The Questions to Answer When it Comes to Snow Guards

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

  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 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.

unsafe roof with snow that could lead to death

Get AIA Continuing Educational Credits

 

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 Guard 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 us at 801-756-8666.

 

UPCOMING WEBINAR: Join us for a chance to win a $50 gift card in this FREE #webinar

SAVE THE DATE – AIA/HSW SNOW RETENTION WEBINAR
Wednesday, January 27th

Office Managers & Others – Feel Free To Share!

Invited: Architects & Associates (or anyone who would be interested)
For Continuing Education Units (CEU): AIA/HSW Credit Available
Topic: Rooftop Snow Retention – Solving the Mystery with the Facts
(New Course This Year)
Format: Zoom Webinar – Provided by TRA Snow & Sun
*No Registration Fee Required.
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 pm MST (1-hour presentation followed by questions)

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
To discuss various solutions for snow and ice moving on roofs, including best design practices for roof types. Design professionals will learn how modern snow retention systems utilize engineering to retain snow efficiently to protect from rooftop avalanches. Learn about the problems and hazards associated with snow and ice moving on roofs or sliding off roofs. Discover the value of engineered snow retention systems.

LIVE SESSION PRE-REGISTRATION:
Pre-register for this event by January 27th, 2021 by https:/lnkd.in/eEWGbqm.

#AIA#HSW#architects#design#building#architecture#designers#landscapearchitects#landscapedesigners#learning#architectureanddesign#continuingeducation#aiacredit#construction#outdoordesign#webinar#event

Join us for a chance to win a $50 gift card in this FREE webinar

SAVE THE DATE – AIA/HSW SNOW RETENTION WEBINAR
Wednesday, December 2nd

Office Managers – Feel Free To Share!

Invited: Architects & Associates (or anyone who would be interested)
For Continuing Education Units (CEU): AIA/HSW Credit Available
Topic: Rooftop Snow Retention – Solving the Mystery with the Facts
(New Course This Year)
Format: Zoom Webinar – Provided by TRA Snow & Sun
*No Registration Fee Required.
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 pm MST (1-hour presentation followed by questions)

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
To discuss various solutions for snow and ice moving on roofs, including best design practices for roof types. Design professionals will learn how modern snow retention systems utilize engineering to retain snow efficiently to protect from rooftop avalanches. Learn about the problems and hazards associated with snow and ice moving on roofs or sliding off roofs. Discover the value of engineered snow retention systems.

LIVE SESSION PRE-REGISTRATION:
Pre-register for this event by December 2nd, 2020 by https:/lnkd.in/eEWGbqm.

#AIA#HSW#architects#design#building#architecture#designers#landscapearchitects#landscapedesigners#learning#architectureanddesign#continuingeducation#aiacredit#construction#outdoordesign#webinar#event

Get 1 Hour of AIA & HSW Continuing Education Credits

snow guards for copper roof
SAVE THE DATE – AIA/HSW SNOW RETENTION WEBINAR
Wednesday, October 28th

Invited: Architects & Associates
(Office Manager & Others – Feel Free To Share)
For Architects: AIA/HSW Credit Available
Topic: Rooftop Snow Retention – Solving the Mystery with the Facts
(New Course This Year)
Format: Zoom Webinar – Provided by TRA Snow & Sun
*No Registration Fee Required.
Time: 12:00 to 1:30 pm (1-hour presentation followed by questions)

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
To discuss various solutions for snow and ice moving on roofs, including best design practices for roof types. Design professionals will learn how modern snow retention systems utilize engineering to retain snow efficiently to protect from rooftop avalanches. Learn about the problems and hazards associated with snow and ice moving on roofs or sliding off roofs. Discover the value of engineered snow retention systems.

LIVE SESSION PRE-REGISTRATION:
Pre-register for this event by October 28th, 2020 by https://lnkd.in/eAMnMKp.

#architects #architecture #AIA #HSW #webinar #credits

 

 

 

 

 

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.

TRA Snow and Sun Offers AIA Continuing Education Course

roofing solutions in alpine regions, continuing education

In response to requests from architects and other construction specifiers, TRA Snow and Sun have decided to continue with the popular continuing education course.  

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 Regions
roofing solutions for alpine regions

TRA Snow and Sun, Inc., located in American Fork, Utah, offers Roof Snow Guard 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 us at 801-756-8666.

Get 8 Hours of AIA Continuing Education Credits

Join us in Salt Lake City, UT as we take part in the CE Academy to earn 6 – 8 hours of continuing education in a seminar format so you can earn multiple CE Hours (LU’s) in one day. All courses are educational in content and AIA registered. Many courses also offer continuing education hours for GBCI, GBCI for LEED Professionals, ADA (American Disabilities Act), State specific requirements, and other specialty hours.
CE Academy will manage the reporting of your credits to the AIA and email you certificates of completion after the event.
Where:
Associated General Contractors of Utah
1260 South 3600 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84104
Registration Deadline
Wednesday, October 24, 2019
Follow the link below to learn course description and learning objectives by visiting ceacademyinc.com.

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

[gview file=”https://trasnowandsun.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Anderson-Dec-2011-Interface.pdf”]

Creating Roof Snow Guard Retention Standards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Spec Logo

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!

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.