Snow guards are devices that attach to a roof’s structure to prevent potentially dangerous and uncontrollable avalanching of snow from your roof’s surface.
The purpose of installing snow guards and snow retention systems is to reduce snow movement and allow for a controlled breakdown and melting of snow masses from your roof. These systems are not intended to completely stop snow movement, but to slow it down, and break it down in smaller, safer quantities. “Snow Guards can be compared to speed bumps. Speed bumps are not designed to stop you, only slow you down. The larger the parking lot, the more speed bumps you will encounter,” says Joseph Salvatore, Architectural & Technical Specifications Manager at Fabral Metal Wall and Roof Systems, “the same theory can be applied to roofing and snow guards.”
Avalanching snow from your roof can cause damage to objects and people below your roof surface like:
- Parked cars
- Adjacent or lower roofing
Snow guards do not need to be installed on all roof types. Snow retention systems should almost always be installed on a metal roof because snow easily slides right off of this material causing this avalanching, as well as, ice dams on the edge of your roof or gutter system. When it comes to more textured surfaces like shingles, snow guards are not always necessary, but will still aid in the controlled movement of snow from your roof’s surface. Snow guards are, however, necessary on commercial or industry facilities that generate high pedestrian traffic as a precaution.
There are a number of different snow retention options from color and material to type of system. What system you choose for your roof depends on a number of factors including the material of your roof, and it’s pitch. “You don’t want to put guards on any roof with a pitch less than 2 ½ : 12,” said Salvatore, “anything less is a flat roof,” meaning the snow will fall controllably on it’s own as it does not have the momentum a steep pitched roof would.
The positioning of the snow guards will also depend and differ based on the characteristics of your roof. However, it is important in all roof situations to make sure anything you put on a roof is above the outside wall. “Go two or three feet up from the eave,” said Salvatore, “the twenty five feet above the snow guard is what you need to be worried about, not the two or three feet below it. That is what the gutters are for.” Ironically, the wrong placement of these retention systems can actually create ice dams and problems instead of solving them.
The Brothers that just do Gutters will now be offering snow guard installations for the up coming season!
Here is an example of snow avalanching: