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 extremely important, and plays a key role in the design and build of a project – whether it be it in the residential, retail, commercial, medical, educational, industrial, institutional, government, military, or any other sector of the building and construction industry.
I’m hopeful that reading this will help dispel some of those myths, and answer many of the questions we’re often asked.
OK….I’m ready if you are. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get right down to business.
1. How many snow guards will I need for my project?
This depends on several factors including roof slope, rafter length, building orientation and snow load. You can sign up to start using our Online Project Calculator, which we’ve made 2 phases of upgrades to over the past several months. By using the calculator, you can get linear feet and per-piece pricing, receive free recommended layouts employing the most up-to-date snow load information, compare products and view printable estimates (to name just a few of the many functions that are now available to you via the calculator).
2. What should I know about the placement of snow guards?
Snow guards should be placed on all roof surfaces to protect against snow damage below. It’s especially important to install them above entryways, walkways, gathering areas, landscaping, parking areas, ground-mounted mechanicals, lower roofs, valleys, crickets, gutters and roof vents.
3. Do snow guards keep all the snow and ice on the surface of the roof?
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.
4. 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 and ice dams. It’s critical to properly ventilate (and insulate) attic spaces to avoid these pitfalls.
5. Who should install snow guards?
We suggest installation be done by a trained professional, such as a roofing contractor or gutter installation company. We don’t make recommendations on who to use – the only reason for that is there’s 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 265,000+ contractors. Those numbers grow an estimated 5.8% per year!
6. When should snow that’s accumulated on the roof be removed?
If 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 is 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 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. Over exertion during snow removal 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, some Alpine-specific questions for your reading pleasure:
Are Alpine SnowGuards available in different colors to match my roof?
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.
What roof types are Alpine SnowGuards compatible with?
We manufacture snow guards for all roof types—metal, shingle, tile, slate, membrane, solar panels and everything in between. You can learn more by visiting our Roof Type page, then select the roof type of your project – you will find many options that will fit for your needs. We are also your source for CUSTOM snow guards, having designed many custom projects over the years – our engineering team is rich with talent, and our lead-time will astound you!
Where can I purchase Alpine SnowGuards?
Our snow guards are available directly from Alpine SnowGuards, as well as through hundreds of building supply stores and distributors throughout the U.S. and Canada. If you’re looking for a distributor near you, please give us a call 1-888-766-4273 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.