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What Metal Roof Snow Guards Are & When To Use One

Posted on December 29, 2022

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What Metal Roof Snow Guards Are & When To Use One

No doubt, watching the snowfall in the wintertime is thrilling, but depending on how much it snows, your roof may be impacted by this gorgeous sight. When it comes to winter, roof damage and personal injury are serious issues that need to be considered. Because of this, we have gathered all the information you need to know about snow guards on metal roof and the benefits they provide, to help you make more informed decisions concerning the roof of your home. Read on to learn the ways to keep you, and your family safe this winter.

What Are Snow Guards?

Snow guards are roofing components that prevent the sudden release of snow and ice from your roof. They come in different materials, such as plastic, stainless steel, and copper, to hold the snow on your metal roof. They come in a small seashell-like shape, or in the form of a long bar or fence. When snow guards are installed on your roof, they protect your roof from being damaged by snow that’s piled up into sheets.

If you have not yet installed a snow guard on your metal roof, it may increase your liability and potential for snow to damage your roof and injure pedestrians below. The main idea behind installing snow guards is to stop people from getting hurt and to protect the structural integrity of your home.

How Do Snow Guards Stop Avalanches?

To understand how snow guards work, first, we need to understand the avalanche effect. As the name suggests, snow guards stop the snow from falling off your roof in large sheets. Instead, they function by breaking and distributing the sliding snow packs evenly.

The avalanche effect is the sudden release of snow and ice from higher areas to lower ones, or from the top of your roof down to the ground. When snow piles up on your roof, it forms a cohesive and temperature-sensitive bond with your roof. With exposure to the sun and heat inside your home, the layer attached to your roof melts, causing the subsequent layers piled on top to loosen. Gravity then does its work and brings the piles of snow down quickly with the help of the metal roof’s smooth surface.

The unpredictability factor in snow sliding off your roof is cause for concern, as this quick falling, heavy snow, can damage items on the ground, or even hurt people, which is why snow guards are needed.

Should You Install Snow Guards on Your Metal Roof?

Here are some key factors you should keep in mind before making a decision.

Advantages Of Installing Snow Guards

Although there are many benefits of installing snow guards on your roof, you must decide whether you need them.

Prevent Damage To Your Home

A snowpack adds weight to your metal roof causing the roof to weaken. The sudden release of this snow and ice off your roof can damage your home. As it moves over your roof it could shatter skylights, damage valley flashing, and cause your gutters to tear off or become damaged. In addition, the sudden slide of snowpacks over the roof deforms the metal sheets, which allows for water to leak into the interior of your home.

Limit Your Liability

If snowpacks fall upon your neighbor’s property, or a pedestrian crossing the sidewalk, you will be responsible for the damage and injury. Snow guards are an economical solution that helps protect you from the liability of snow and ice falling from your roof.

Reduce Maintenance Costs

Snow guards prevent you from putting more effort into the maintenance of your roof. Snow guards do the work of breaking the giant snowpacks into pieces, and distributing them evenly over the roof. This prevents your home exterior from becoming deformed, reducing maintenance costs.

Snow guards reduce maintenance costs, extend the life of snow removal equipment, and keep equipment operating at full capacity while ensuring minimal snow removal times.

Disadvantages Of Installing Snow Guards

Although snow guards are considered the best solution for preventing damage that accumulated snow causes, they are not the best fit for all structures and properties. Let us dive into their disadvantages.

Tricky Installation

Even though snow guards are crucial to the health of your roof, their installation can be tricky and complex. Plus, it requires you to hire a professional who has a good understanding of roofing and the installation process of snow guards. Without professional help, poor workmanship could further damage the area of your roof that you are meant to protect.

Snow Guard Damage

Due to the weight of these snow loads, snow guard’s retention limit may be exceeded, causing the guards to break.

Types Of Metal Roof Snow Guards

Now that you know both the advantages and disadvantages of snow guards, and decided that you want to purchase them for your home, you may be wondering which snow guard you should purchase. There are many styles of snow guards available on the market, but depending on the specifics of your situation you can choose from these main two types:

  • Small profile
  • Snow bar
  • Snow fence

Small Profile

Small profile snow guards look like open clam shells and are installed individually along your roof. They’re best for standing seam metal roofs where you want your snow guards to have a minimal effect on the aesthetic appearance of your roof.

These are the most popular type of snow guards on the market and are made out of metal. They’re loved due to the way they attach to the roof through a mechanical fastener, and can be attached during any season. Homeowners tend to install these snow guards in a staggered pattern so that they catch falling snowpacks and break them into smaller pieces before falling off the roof.

Snow Bar

This type of snow guard is a long bar made of metal rods laid horizontally on your metal roof. Snow bars are designed to stop the downward motion of snow packs and safeguard home occupants and pedestrians.

This type of snow guard is sleek and made out of stainless steel which the roofer mechanically bolts to a bracket installed on your roof. Depending on the pitch of your roof, you may only need one of these bars to get the job done. Additionally, some manufacturers create bars that match the coloring of your roof, so you can keep the seamless appearance of the roof you love while having peace of mind that your family and home are being kept safe.

Bar Snow Guards

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Snow Fence

Fence-style snow guards are similar to snow bars. However, they’re composed of more than one rod that is columned to look like a split-rail fence. This fence is then horizontally laid, and mounted parallel to the eave of your roof. They provide strong resistance to snow movement down the roof and safeguard people from being hurt.

When To Use One

Since there is no frictional resistance on a metal roof between the roof’s surface and the snow layers, the snow load slides off unexpectedly from the top, causing sudden damage. This is also one of the reasons metal roof owners need snow guards on their roofs. If you have a metal roof and live in an area with regular snowfall, snow guards are a good investment.

This doesn’t just apply to metal roofs, if you generally live in an area where you face heavy snowfall and high wind gusts, you might be commonly troubled with heavy snow loads accumulating on your roof. If your roof is prone to ice dams, and heavy snow packs forming, it’s time to purchase some snow guards. Snow guards prevent snow and ice from quickly falling to the ground. When appropriately installed, snow guards can also protect pedestrians by shielding them from falling ice or snow.

How To Install Snow Guards

Installing snow guards on your roof requires following proper safety measures. In cases of poor workmanship, the snow guard may break, allowing the snow to damage everything in its path. While installing snow guards, check whether snow guards are correctly spaced. With fence and bar-style snow guards, a large distance between the guards increases the chance of guard breakdown.

These are the factors you must consider before, and during, the installation process:

  • Decide which type of snow guard you intend to use
  • Prepare your roof for installation
  • Use a sturdy ladder so that a roofer doesn’t slip
  • Find and measure the pitch of your roof
  • Plan the spacing between each snow guard
  • Mark the location where you want to install snow guards
  • Make sure the location is dry
  • Mount the guards based on the instructions from the manufacturer

Where To Place Snow Guards On Metal Roofs

Where you choose to place the snow guards on your metal roof will depend on the size and shape of your roof, but it’s essential to ensure that your snow guard covers as much area as possible.

Snow guards are best placed a couple of inches from the eaves of your roof, but sometimes they must be placed higher on the roofline. They are constructed to withstand harsh weather conditions, including high winds and heavy rains, so you don’t have to worry about snow guards causing water to back up on your roof.

How Much Weight Can A Snow Guard Withstand?

The answer to this question depends on various factors, such as the construction of the building and roof, roof slope, roof pitch, the material of the guards, guard thickness, and your location. The length of the snow guard is another factor to consider.

We advise calling a professional contractor to inspect your roof and help advise you on which snow guard would work best for your home.

Final Thoughts

With all the information in this blog, you now understand how essential snow guards are to protecting your home. The wrong choice of snow guards, or improper installation, can increase your chances of roof damage.

We hope our blog has added some value to your life. If you’re looking for assistance with your metal roof, or have further questions about snow guards, we are always here to help! Hepler Contracting LLC is dedicated to providing service throughout Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We handle everything from metal roofs, asphalt shingles, roof inspection, repair, and more.

If you want a professional and dedicated roofer to inspect your roof and discuss snow guards with, call us at, (412) 206-5608.

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