What Are Snow Guards And Do They Work?
The function of a snow guard is to prevent snow or ice from avalanching off the roof and onto landscaping or pedestrians below. They allow the snow to be held on the roof until it gradually melts off. Typically, snow guards are utilized on homes or businesses with extremely steep roofs or roofs constructed of slate, wood or metal. The snow can bond together in wet snow conditions allowing a portion of snow to remain hanging from a roof. The snow will then freeze overnight. The thawing beneath the roof will then cause the entire sheet of snow or ice to slide off the roof.
On roofs constructed of asphalt shingles, snow guards are typically not needed. Choosing the type of snow guard that will be installed depends on the type of roof that is on the home or business. Aluminum is a favorable material in gutter installations because it has a low corrosiveness and is environmental friendly. Metal roofs come in various metallic options including aluminum, copper and steel. Using the same metal material for the snow guards that is used for the roof will prevent corrosion altogether. When competing metal materials are used in construction, an electrolyte bridge will form as water flows across the alloys. An excerpt from www.metalroofsnowguards.com details what happens in the galvanic process.
“During evaporation water becomes concentrated and water films become more conductive, causing the initially benign water to create a dynamic galvanic effect which causes rust. This phenomenon normally begins to occur when water gets trapped in a crevice, such as under a screw or between the base of a metal guard and the metal roof. Even water lying against the face of the metal guard and the metal roof for an extended period time can initiate the deterioration process.”
Their suggestion is to use a Lexan plastic snow guard to retain strength over the colder winter months and to be more aesthetically pleasing. They point out how corrosion is especially concerning near coastal areas where salty air can enhance the galvanic process and weaken the guard. In our opinion however, copper would be better choice for roofing, gutter and snow guard material in this type of environment. See out previous blog topic on why copper turns green to see the abilities that copper has over other materials.
What will determine whether a residential home or business will require snow guards is the roofing material. Lots of businesses use metal roofs due to the longevity of the material. There are some environmental benefits to using aluminum or stainless steel as a roofing material. See our blog on green guttering and how the choices effect the surrounding environment. If gutters are installed on a roof using metal or granite shingles, it is recommended to get snow guards installed. The gutters will act as a catch for the snow and ice, compounding the problem more.
When it comes to choosing a snow guard, it appears longevity of the guard and safety are a concern. Although we do not install snow guards, we do have another suggestion that will work even better than snow guards where a gutter system has been installed.
In our last article, we talked about using leaf guards as a snow guard as well. To accomplish this, a specific type of leaf guard will need to be installed. The guard allows a heat tape to run through the guard melting the snow and ice and keeping the gutter system functioning as it should. By adding heat tape to the first couple feet of a roof, the snow will not overwhelm the gutter guard. Another possibility is to have the snow removed from the roof. For more information or to schedule a free quote, call 845-223-6111 or visit www.brothersgutters.com.