Why Use a Snow Guard System?

snow guard

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.

The solution? Snow guards.

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.

Snow Guard Types

There are different snow guards for different roofs; some of the roof types that can use snow guards include:

  • metal roof (or standing seam roofs)
  • slate roofs (with shingle systems)
  • steel roof (no matter the slope or ridge situation)
  • a roof with gutters (gutters are a great product, but stopping snowfall isn’t in their job description)
  • a roof that a roofing contractor said wouldn’t need any sort of additional protection against the snow (they were wrong)
  • and, most definitely, your roof

Why Snow Guards?

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.

But How Do Snow Guards Work?

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:

  • cheap
  • versatile
  • and easy to install for even the most uncertain customer

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.

Why Haven’t I Heard of Snow Guard Systems Before?

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.

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?

medium_3256165541

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: “What Are They?”

snow clips, snow guards, snow bracketA 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.

trasnowandsun, snow retention, solar mounting systemsSecure Attachment

trasnowandsun, snow retention, solar mounting systemsSuperior Strength

trasnowandsun, snow retention, solar mounting systemsVariety of Material Types

Snow Bracket™ D – Apex

Snow Bracket™ D – Apex

Dimensions

Length: 12″
Width: 2.25″
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.

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.

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”]

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.

 

Why Specify Snow Guard Retention?

WHY SPECIFY SNOW GUARDS FOR SNOW RETENTION?

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.

SOME REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD SPECIFY SNOW GUARDS FOR ROOF SNOW RETENTION:

  1.  Damage/Injury – People and property can be struck by snow and ice falling from the roof. Property damage and injuries, even deaths can occur when snow is not properly retained on a roof.
  2.  Limited Access – Entrances to buildings can be blocked by snow and ice that falls from a roof.
  3. Roof Damage – When snow and ice masses slide off a roof, costly damage occurs.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SNOW GUARD AS A 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.

Engineered snow retention and solar mounting solutions

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 TRA Snow and Sun at 801-756-8666.                                                                                                           

                                                                    REQUEST A QUOTE

Slogan

 

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.

Leave Your Flashing Worries Behind

Leave Your Flashing Worries Behind

TRA Snow and Sun has something that every roofer needs “flashing”. It’s a must-have for all roofers. We call it the “roofer’s duct tape”.

The primary reason any type of roofing exists is to provide a protective layer to maintain a barrier between the interior of a building and the weather. How this is accomplished can take many different forms.  When it comes to flashing, there’s nothing proven to work better than TRA Snow and Sun’s flexible aluminum or copper flashing. It adheres to the wall or other roofing structure or tile, is extremely flexible, and adds a professional finish to all roofing projects while being extremely effective at sealing out water and preventing leaks.

VersaFlash and TileSeal are flexible rolled flashing that attach to the surface of the roof with butyl adhesive. Our flashing works like magic for many roofs especially around hard to flash areas! VersaFlash and TileSeal are extremely easy to use on the work site. You can use it in areas like around roof-to-wall abutments, around chimneys and pretty much everywhere else. Plus, it’s competitively priced.

Simply put, TRA Snow & Sun flashing is easy to use, flexible and will save you time and money without sacrificing an inch in quality. There are many reasons you’ll love our Aluminum and Copper VersaFlash and TileSeal Flashing — but once you choose it, you’ll never roof without it again.

TRA Snow and Sun is your number one source for solar mounting, snow retention, flexible ventilation, and flashing material. We offer competitive prices and guarantee our products. Try a FREE SAMPLE of our VersaFlash! Give us a call today at 801-756-8666 for more details, and check out all of our flashing products.

 

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.                                                                                                

                                                                    REQUEST A QUOTE

Slogan