As I’ve come to learn, people have many questions when it comes to managing rooftop snow. As I’ve also come to learn, the answers to those questions aren’t as cut-and-dry as you would think, with many variables playing into the mix. With every project being different in terms of roof type, location, snow load, eave length, roof slope, snow management needs or expectations, etc., etc., etc.
This is why education is so important and plays a key role in the design and build of a project – whether it be it in the residential, commercial, medical, education or any other sector of the building and construction industry.
I’m hopeful that reading this will educate and answer many of the questions we’re often asked. If you ever have a question, please don’t ever hesitate to let us know. We are always happy to help – and remember, that’s what we’re here for!
OK….I’m ready if you are. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get right down to business.
1. How many snow guards do I need for my project?
How many snow guards you’ll need for your project depends on several project-specific factors. These factors include roof type, slope, rafter length, building orientation and snow load. We’re happy to work up a layout and pricing for you, or you can also sign up to start using our Online Project Calculator.
By using the calculator, you’ll get immediate layout and pricing information. Our calculator employs the most up-to-date snow load information and allows you to compare products and view estimates at any time that’s convenient for you. 2:00 AM? No worries, just log in and get to work!
2. Do snow guards keep all the snow and ice on the surface of the roof?
(Image above from Gillespie Contracting, Glenmoore, PA)
They don’t. And they’re not supposed to. Snow guards are specifically designed to prevent entire roof loads of snow from dumping or avalanching all at once. Small amounts of snow and ice will still melt off in a manageable fashion, protecting pedestrians and property below. If you’re a building owner, facilities manager or property manager, you’ll appreciate mitigating liability with such an easy fix.
3. Will the installation of snow guards prevent icicles from forming?
Inadequate insulation, air leaks and improper ventilation can cause a build-up of water between the snow and the roof surface, resulting in the formation of icicles. Snow guards will not prevent icicles from forming. Adequate ventilation is essential to proper roof function, allowing fresh air into the attic, and forcing stale, moist air out.
If the ventilation isn’t adequate, you can expect common problems like mold, mildew, rust, soggy decking, heavy icicles, ice dams and water damage to your ceiling. It’s critical to properly ventilate (and insulate) attic spaces to avoid these pitfalls.
4. Who should install snow guards?
You obviously aren’t going to hire the crew from This Old House to install your snow guards. Imagine our excitement when they aired a segment where they installed our PP115’s on membrane roofing!
You can see it HERE (forward to 16:45)
We suggest installation by a trained professional, such as a roofing contractor or gutter installation company. We don’t normally recommend who to use, as there is no way for us to be aware of every contractor and the services they provide. After all, there are well over 100,000 known roofing companies in the U.S. alone – employing 300,000+ contractors. Those numbers grow an estimated 5.8% per year!
5. When should snow that’s accumulated on the roof be removed?
If too much wet, heavy snow falls onto a roof that already has a marginal accumulation of snow and ice, it can cause snow guards to yield. Although this is obviously far more desirable than a roof collapse, it’s also preventable if you and/or the building owner are proactive.
If there’s any chance you’ve installed snow guards on projects where snow may have accumulated beyond the given regional snowfall amounts, unusual amounts of ice have formed, or drifting has occurred, PLEASE make the building owner aware that they need to remove the snow and ice as a precautionary measure.
Alpine SnowGuards are designed to help keep snow and ice from avalanching off the roof all at once causing damage or harm to structures, landscaping, vehicles, and people below. When more snow than expected accumulates on the roof, it should be removed, if it can be done so safely and without risk of injury, to avoid damage to the roof, the building structure and anything below.
It’s important to be aware of the health hazards of moving such heavy snow. Overexertion can cause a range of health problems, including back injuries and heart attacks, so those who aren’t able to safely clear their roofs should call a contractor who has experience in roof snow removal.
Again, please consider the projects where you have installed snow guards. If those projects have an accumulated snow or ice mass it should be removed prior to any further accumulation.
And now, 4 Alpine-specific questions for your continued education and reading pleasure:
1. Are Alpine SnowGuards available in different colors to match my roof?
Yes! For our pad-style snow guards and color insert strips, we offer pre-painted Kynar stock using the Firestone Una-Clad™color system. We also offer exterior powder-coating color options using the RAL TIGER Drylac® exterior powder coating system.
2. Can I install Alpine SnowGuards on an existing roof?
Absolutely! We have a wide variety of snow guard options that were designed specifically for installation on existing (retrofit) roofs.
3. What roof types are Alpine SnowGuards compatible with?
We manufacture snow guards for all roof types—metal, shingle, tile, slate, membrane, solar panels, ledge systems and everything in between. You can learn more by visiting our Roof Type page, then select the roof type for your project – you’ll find many options that will fit for your needs. We are also your source for CUSTOM snow guards, having designed too many custom projects over the years to count – our engineering and technical teams are rich with talent. AND…. our lead-times will make you very happy!
4. Where can I purchase Alpine SnowGuards?
Our snow guards are available direct (firstname.lastname@example.org / 888.766.4273), as well as through hundreds of distribution partners throughout the U.S. and Canada.
We look forward to working with you on your next project!
We keep snow in its place
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Alpine SnowGuards designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facilities in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, developers, and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do. Alpine SnowGuards can help a building qualify for LEED® credits.