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This “About Us” page is dedicated to my dad, Jack McMullen who we all love and miss!
The Mastermind Behind it All!
Polycarbonate snow guards are amazingly simple, remarkably effective and incredibly strong, with over three decades of field experience to prove it!
When someone mentions snow retention I think of my dad, the late Jack McMullen. A graduate from Duquesne University and a builder since 1965, he specialized in sales and erection of Clear Span Metal Buildings. During that period he saw a lot of damaged gutters, cars & landscaping caused by sliding snow and ice. Early on he recognized the need for a safe, effective product that would not rust and get brittle in the cold and when he could not find one, he invented one. In 1976, he invented the very first, clear, polycarbonate snow guard, called the Snojax I and in 1979, he was granted a U.S. Patent for the first clear, plastic injection molded “corrosion proof snow guard”.
Snow Guard Product Development Timeline
Metal roofing was so new to the industry, that not many people had considered the dangers of sliding snow and ice, so in 1982, I joined my father for the drive of my life. We drove from one side of the country to the other, educating architects, engineers, designers and contractors about the significant dangers associated with winter precipitation and metal roofing.
In 1984, standing seam, free floating roofs became very popular. These roofing panels have a natural thermal tendency to expand and contract based on various weather conditions. We immediately saw the need to redesign our original Snojax snow guard so that they could be adhesively mounted and would not compromise the integrity of these types of panels. We designed a prototype, originally called Icejax™ which was actually a version of the Snojax I, with a special plate that was fusion bonded on the feet to provide an interchangeable bonding surface. We knew that this method of attachment would eliminate potential roof leaks, seam impairments, panel damage, warranty violations, maintenance issues and call backs. The next step was to find a suitable, long lasting, UV stabilized bonding agent! It took us a year, but in 1985 we discovered an adhesive new to the market, called Surebond SB-190. Also during that time, we “tweaked” the design of the Icejax™, purchased another injection mold, and changed the name to Snojax II.
We hired Pittsburgh Testing Labs to perform various laboratory testing on our “adhesive mounted” snow guard and we found the results far exceeded our wildest expectations. Before introducing this new product to the industry we did our own field testing and analysis, installing them on the roofs of our existing customers. Once we received positive feedback from those customers, we were glad to introduce another first... a polycarbonate snow guard designed for standing seam, free floating roofs. Because of its unique design, it earned its own U.S. Patent for being the first adhesive mounted, polycarbonate snow guard. The metal roofing industry embraced it with open arms.
In 2000, we introduced two uniquely designed patented SnoBlox™ models, the “Ace” and the “Deuce”. These models were invented to eliminate the confusion associated with minor rib straddling. They have a large, flat, forward mounted face with a narrow base that fits in between closely spaced minor ribs. The SnoBlox also features the industry’s first waffled base design that truly enhances the bonding power of the glue.
In 2002, we pioneered the way for the industry’s first patented stack and chimney saver products called the Ventsaver FB-151™ and the Ventsaver P-383™. This product became essential for us to stock because we had so many customers that were misapplying snow guards in an effort to try to protect their roof vents and chimneys. This product was the perfect solution to that problem.
In late 2004, after many requests for a high quality snow bar holding system, we did extensive research and teamed up with the originator of the bar system that crimps on to a standing seam panel. The Snobar™ and Colorbar™ products are extremely strong and time proven systems. They are made from aluminum, galvanized or stainless steel and unlike any other bar system on the market today, Snobar™ is the only system to boast an unmatched ice stopping system that keeps snow and ice from going under and or ramping up and over the bar!
In 2005, we had requests for several other styles and sizes of snow guards. We decided to revive the Icejax™ name and introduced two different size models called the Icejax I and the Icejax II. These new models are based on the 22-year trusted Snojax II design. We hired the internationally renowned ATI professional testing laboratory to test ALL of our snow guard models and these tests proved, once again, that the Snojax™, SnoBlox™ and Icejax™ brands are the strongest snow guards in the world and the best bonding snow guards on the market!
We had more requests for a metal snow guard. The only items we could find on the metal snow guard market were too tiny to work or cheap cast guards that we determined would get brittle and break in the cold. One year later we found the maker of the SnowCatcher™! This large, mild steel snow guard is available in mill finish or in 8 standard powder coated paint colors. Because we have not found a bonding agent that is adequate for metal to metal attachment, this guard is intended for screw down mounting only. The profile is similar to our popular SnoBlox™ design and will fit most screw or nail down metal panels on the market.
In 2007 we began carrying #14 screws for screw down applications. We also had a number of requests to make our snow guards available on a wholesale B2B level, so we did just that! We offered our Icejax™ and SnoBlox™ models with low minimum purchasing quantities at a wholesale price level for qualified resellers. This is a great opportunity for many businesses to increase their profit margins while providing the industry with an amazingly simple, strong and effective roofing accessory that enhances safety and eliminates building and property damage, made by the originators. We also began carrying the metal SnowCatcher model, our first metal pad-style snow guard, in 2007.
In 2009 we released the Decorative SnowCatcher line, which included the Mustang, Fleur-De-Lis, Sun Burst and Maple Leaf SnowCatcher models. With the release of the 304 grade stainless steel Decorative SnowCatchers, we also partnered with a local powder coater to offer the choice of 50 durable TGIC Polyester powder coat colors. We also release the snow guard industry's FIRST recycled snow guard made from 100% post consumer polycarbonate. This version of the trusted SnoBlox Deuce model is made with "green" materials. Now you can be "green" and still know you are using a trusted and proven snow guard model even though the materials are comprised mostly of recycled 5 gallon water bottles and compact discs. In 2009 we also partnered with a local machine shop to produce the SlateGuard for tile roofs. The pre-assembled, sturdy 304 stainless steel SlateGuard is an ideal retrofit or new construction solution for slate, asphalt shingle and composite tile roofs. Slots easily engage roof nails. Unique rolled tabs insure the SnoBlox Deuce is held firmly on the strap and a sturdy rivet prevents lift out. Available with the choice of clear or 8 stock SnoBlox Deuce snow guards.
In 2010 we released the SnowBreaker, a revolutionary device we designed to split apart falling snow and ice. As the snow and ice slides on the roof, this cost effective product minimizes the danger by slicing the frozen precipitation into small pieces so it can safely come off the roof. The forward cutting edge and the tucked back rear support form a triangular shape that acts like a fin to split up the frozen precipitation. We also offer the SnowBreaker with a "Peel and Stick" 3M tape for convenient year round installation. In 2010 we were also pleased to announce the release of Roof Clamp, a clamp for roof accessory attachment on metal roofing. With the clamp installers can secure Satellite Dishes or Roof Walks, Conduit or HVAC lines. Attach signs or awnings. The aluminum Roof Clamp utilizes a Stainless Steel oval tipped screw that does not pierce or penetrate the panel; therefore it will not void the manufacturer warranty.
Now that you know WHO we are, we would like to take the time to tell you WHY we are the leading supplier of plastic snow guards. With so many new snow guard companies flooding the marketplace, choosing a qualified supplier can be difficult. There are several important factors to consider when selecting the proper snow guard for metal roofing applications. The most important features to consider are the height, width and shape of a snow guard or rail system. This determines its ability to hold back layers of heavy ice and snow. A pad style guard should have a flat, forward mounted face that measures at least 3 inches across and stands no less than 2.5 inches high. It must be mounted in the lowest portion of the roofing panel where the snow and ice actually moves, not on a high seam above the problem area. Snow guards mounted on a high seam will cease to be effective once the snow and ice compacts on the panel and becomes lower than the guard. A bar or rail system should always have a flat face or square tube with a clamp mounted on every seam. This system also requires an ice stopper at least 3 inches wide, mounted perpendicular to the panel flat in order to be effective. Installing the correct type of ice stopping device is the key to keeping the snow and ice from going under and over the bar.
The preferred method of attachment imposing the least risk of panel damage on a standing seam floating panel roof is the adhesive mounted pad style snow guard. This mounting method does not restrict the natural thermal expansion and contraction process of floating metal roof panels and in the event of severe snow drifting conditions, it provides a release feature that eliminates the possibility of panel damage. It is very important to remember that crimp on guards or rails have no release aspect and panel damage could occur if snow loads exceed the design capabilities of the clamp. Therefore, these systems are generally more expensive and pose a risk of panel damage if under designed and should always be installed in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations!
Another noteworthy consideration is the type of material from which the snow guard is made. Clear polycarbonate is virtually invisible and will not create corrosive galvanic reactions caused by dissimilar metals exposed to outdoor elements. Unlike metal snow guards, the polycarbonate used to make all of our snow guards has an ASTM Brittleness temperature rating of 150° below zero. Because all plastics do not maintain the same characteristics when exposed to various weather conditions, the consumer should only consider using a product made from a virgin grade, UV stabilized, prime polycarbonate material. Our company uses the same type of polycarbonate, approved by NASA, and is used to make astronaut face masks.
Something else to consider, clear pad style snow guards are far less noticeable on a roof than colored ones. A color matched snow guard will act as a sundial and cast a conspicuous shadow. Think about this scenario, a person is standing in front of a building and is looking up at the roof. What do they see? They observe all the protruding objects that don’t blend with the sky, including nontransparent snow retention systems. Clear snow guards unify with the skyline and in most cases, are almost undetectable.
The most common snow retention problem that we encounter is misapplication. We have found that some newer snow guard companies, many of which are in fields unrelated to the industry and are in this business for a quick sale and are very eager to tell customers that a single row of guards along the eave will suffice. To top it off, some even suggest using untested sealants and tapes that have no UV resistance. Then there are others claiming that there is a new “miracle” cold weather adhesive. We know, for a fact, that the manufacturer of this product discourages selling this sealant for adhesive mounting of snow guards in the winter – we know this because it is made by the same manufacturer that makes our recommended adhesive and if there was such a product that worked, we would know it. The deceptive tactics used by others in relation to testing of snow guards is extremely disturbing to us. Many are using the tensile strength ratings of the plastics and or adhesives for misleading information about the holding strength of their guards. We have had the holding strength of our snow guards and adhesive professionally tested by the internationally renowned ATI Testing Lab, and proudly publish these findings in our literature and our website. We feel that these tests along with over 30 years of field experience enable us to accurately design a layout for a snow retention system that will work in any situation.
With so many choices on the market, it is safe to say that there is not one type of snow retention system that is perfect for every application. Some types of metal roofing do not have the proper seam height and are not structurally suitable for use with a clamp down system. While it is always harmless to the panel to use an adhesive mounted system, weather conditions are not always ideal for proper installation. We have designed an on-line estimator program that will hopefully help set the industry standard and will help the end user determine how many guards should be placed on a particular project. Additionally, we are soon releasing an on-line lay out program, free for registered users of our website. This program features a user friendly interface which allows the end-user to input basic variables which allows the program to generate an easy to follow placement guide. When it really comes down to it, choosing an experienced supplier and following their instructions and spacing recommendations is the key to a successful snow guard installation.
Last but not least, you must also consider a manufacturer’s warranty. When used in accordance to our instructions and recommended layout, our snow guard is warranted for a lifetime, without hidden fees and inspections. It is however, impossible to warranty workmanship; therefore the method of attachment is not part of our warranty. It’s that simple. However, we have discovered that some companies are now claiming that they offer systems that are supposedly good enough to be warranted for the life of the roof, but what they don’t tell you is that there is a costly $1500 Issuance Fee plus 8% of the full invoice cost in order to receive their “Limited Warranty”! Issuance is then conditional to receiving a “Field Inspection Report” or a written waiver which must be obtained by the contractor, from the manufacturer. If this report is “unsatisfactory” or the manufacturer determines that they must conduct further Field Inspection(s) then the contractor, which represents the “owner” is subject to additional “Re-Inspection” fees as determined by the manufacturer. Of course, this fee is promised not to exceed the original Issuance Fee. If the manufacturer determines the system was under designed, as they usually are, then the manufacturer shall have no obligations or liabilities! Sounds confusing, it is, not to mention the cost of this type of “Limited Warranty” could far exceed the original cost of the entire snow retention system! We have to ask, why charge for a warranty in the first place, if the product really works?
Today, more than 42 years later, I am proud to continue my father’s legacy with integrity. SnoBlox-Snojax is recognized in the metal construction industry as a trustworthy, nationally known supplier whose predominant business is snow retention. Our customers are our most valuable asset and we are committed to excellent customer service, “Hands on Ownership” and providing the industry with the highest quality snow guard systems available on the market, at the best possible price with an unconditional warranty! Our mission is to meet the constantly changing needs of the metal roofing industry by continuously researching, developing, professionally testing and marketing the “Best of the Best” and we plan to be of service for generations to come!By Brion P. McMullen, President & CEO