Buyers Guide for Snow Guards
Are you preparing your home for the winter season and find yourself concerned about the potential for sliding snow and ice from your roof? Snow guards are an essential addition to your roof that help prevent snow and ice from shedding and causing damage to property or injury to people and pets.
Purchasing a snow retention system for the first time can feel a bit overwhelming. It's not as simple to purchase snow guards as some might believe. Today's market offers a wide variety of snow guard options. When buying snow guards for your roof, you need to take into account a number of criteria, such as your snow load, roof slope, and roof style. This buyer's guide will help you make an informed decision when purchasing snow guards for your roof.
Why Snow Guards?
Snow guards, also known as snow brakes, snow stops, or snow rails, are small devices installed on roofs to hold back or slow down sliding snow and ice. They serve several important purposes:
1. Preventing Injury: Falling snow and ice can pose a serious danger to people and property. Snow guards help prevent sudden avalanches, protecting pedestrians and structures below.
2. Preserving Gutters: Snow and ice sliding off the roof can damage gutters and eaves, leading to costly repairs. Snow guards can help prevent this.
3. Preventing Ice Dams: Snow guards can help distribute snow evenly on the roof, reducing the likelihood of ice dams forming.
4. Preserving Landscaping: Snow guards prevent large masses of snow from burying gardens, walkways, and landscaping.
Types of Snow Guards
There are various types of snow guards available, including:
1. Pad Style Individual Snow Guards (ex: SnoBlox Deuce, SnowCatcher, IceJax 2): These are small individual metal or polycarbonate rectangular guards that are mounted in the flat of the panel and feature a face that sits perpendicular to the roof slope and faces up the slope towards the peak. This style of snow guard offers two options for installation. Mechanical attachment that may be carried out year-round and adhesive attachment that doesn't penetrate the roof. Snow guards should never be installed with screws on a standing seam metal roof. Pad style snow guards are mounted in staggered formations for greater weight distribution.
2. Bracket Style Snow Guards (ex: SnoCleat PBR, SnoCleat RCT): These are individual metal snow guards featuring screw down brackets or non-penetrating clamps that are attached to the roof and hold snow and ice in place. These guards feature small sections of the ColorBar system that acts as the face of the guard. Bracket Style Snow Guards, like Pad style snow guards, are mounted in staggered formations for greater weight distribution.
3. Bar Style Snow Rails: Also known as snow fences, these are horizontally mounted galvanized steel, aluminum, or stainless steel bars that are attached to the roof, providing a physical barrier against snow and ice. These systems can be accessorized to work with a variety of today’s most popular roofing styles. Bar Style Snow Rails are mounted in continuous straight row formations.
Factors to Consider
When shopping for snow guards, consider the following factors:
1. Roof Type: The type of snow guard that you need depends greatly on your roof's material and slope. Some of the most common roofing styles are listed below:
2. Climate: The amount and type of snow your region receives will influence the design and quantity of snow guards required. This number is expressed as your ground snow load. For countries using the imperial system of measurement, this number is shown as “pounds per square foot” or “PSF”. For countries using the metric system of measurement, this number is shown as kilopascal or kPa. When calculating a site's design roof snow load, the ground snow load, also known as PG, is taken into account. This figure is calculated from historical data collected at various weather stations across the United States. This number can, normally, be found on your building plans or by contacting your local building inspector. The ASCE 7 (chapter 7 - Fig 7.2.1, ASCE 7-16) or the ATC website will typically also include information on this number.
3. Aesthetics: Snow guards come in various colors and styles. Choose one that complements your roof's appearance. Most polycarbonate guards are clear in appearance, casting little shadow, and blending in with your roof. Metal guards and rail systems can be purchased in mill or custom powder coated finishes. When in doubt, take a drive around your neighborhood and check out what others in your area have installed for inspiration.
4. Installation: Some snow guards are easier to install than others. If you're not experienced in roof work, consider hiring a professional for installation. If you decide to hire a professional, any licensed general or roofing contractor should be able to install these guards for you. Our products come with simple to follow instructions that are also available online before you place your order.
5. Quality: Invest in high-quality snow guards made from sustainable and durable materials to ensure longevity. Not all plastics and metals are created equally. We pride ourselves in using only materials that are manufactured here in the USA.
6. Cost: Prices vary based on style and quality. Obtain multiple quotes and compare prices. Make sure to compare apples to apples when making your final decision. It is also important to compare manufacturers’ warranty information. A product that a company is willing to stand behind may be worth more to you than saving a few cents per guard or per foot of rail system. It is also important to make sure that you are purchasing from reputable companies that specialize in snow guards. It is becoming more common for injection molders to knock-off products without offering any knowledge or support to their customers for them. BUYER BEWARE!
How many snow guards will I need?
The style of snow guard, roof pitch, length of roof, distance between the eave and ridge, snow load, and other variables all play a role in determining how many snow guards you need. Proper installation is critical to the effectiveness of snow guards. Whether you are installing your snow retention system by yourself or hiring a professional, make sure that you are taking a moment to visit our snow guard spacing tool or read over our spacing guidelines for your desired system. A proper layout will extend the full length of the roof section that you are looking to protect and will often require multiple rows going up the slope to evenly distribute the weight of the snow and ice over the entire roof surface, not just at the bottom. Snow guards should not be subject to impact. Their purpose is not to act as a road block for sliding snow and ice. Snow guards are meant to hold the snow and ice in place to avoid movement, allowing the snow and ice to melt in place and drain safely into your gutters. If you are looking for help with your layout, we have quote request forms for both our individual snow guards and rail systems.
Snow guards are a valuable addition to your roof, providing protection against snow and ice-related issues. Before making a purchase, carefully assess your roofing needs, consult with professionals, and choose the right style and quantity of snow guards. With proper installation, you can enjoy a safer and more secure winter season.