Snow Guards for Metal Roofing

Snow Guards for Metal Roofing

Posted on November 19, 2019 by Rachel Mercado


Metal roofing is used on a wide range of building types all over the U.S. and Canada. One of the benefits is that its smooth surface is essentially self-cleaning since rain water and wind will typically keep it clear of dust, dirt, or debris. Snow, on the other hand, will accumulate just as it would on any other roof. That’s fine until the snow starts to melt and the smooth metal surface allows the snow to slide down the slope of the roofing. If a large amount of accumulated snow releases quickly and suddenly, it can cause harm to people or vehicles below it. Additionally, the building foundation, fascia, or gutters can also be damaged by sliding snow and ice; the building foundation can suffer if an accumulation of snow and ice sits against it, or if splashing meltwater continues to contact the foundation.


The solution to this common issue is fairly straightforward, and has been in use for decades in the form of snow retention systems. This is typically achieved by placing metal snow and ice guards on the roofing parallel to the roof edge. While this is a fairly well-known and reliable solution available from metal roofing manufacturers, there are some details to be aware of for a successful installation:


Custom Design: Each roof and each location are different. The roofing profile, slope, and materials are all custom-designed and selected. So, it is logical that a snow guard system should be custom-designed to match it. Similarly, each location is different in terms of the amount of snow that is generally expected in a given winter season. For example, buildings located in areas that receive limited amounts of snow or buildings with lower sloped roofs may only need a limited system of snow guards (if any) in selected areas of concern. However, any location that receives multiple inches of snow in a single storm, and experiences prolonged cold temperatures that prevent snowmelt, will likely need more snow guard protection. This is especially true if the roof slope is steep and capable of shedding large areas of snow quickly. Metal roofing manufacturers are able to assess all of these factors and customize an engineered snow retention system for each individual metal roof. Factors taken into account include snow load, panel width, roof slope, roof length, and assembly length.


Retention Type: Manufacturers offer two types of zero-penetration snow guards: pipe-style and fence-style. The pipe-style can accommodate a wide range of roof profiles and snow conditions. The fence-style is strong enough for heavy-duty applications and is available with inserts to match the roof color. Both of these types of snow retention systems are intended to sit up perpendicularly from the smooth roofing surface to trap and hold back an accumulation of snow. There is also the option of adding separate ice clips that are spaced along the main retention system, and touch the metal roof to keep ice from sliding down below it. All of these products offer an aesthetically pleasing snow retention system to complement virtually any roof profile and design.


For non-standing seam roofs that use exposed fasteners, there are similar versions of brackets that use pre-installed butyl sealant, which is covered and protected by the bracket when it’s secured to the roof. In those cases, penetration is required, but is overcome by the butyl sealant that is protected from UV exposure, thus preventing drying and cracks. Pipe-style retention is held in place with a bracket specifically designed for this purpose, with circular holes in the vertical part of the bracket to support 1.0 inch pipes. Commonly, six points of attachment are provided in the base of the bracket for holding strength, with no messy sealants to apply and virtually no chance for leaks. Snow guard brackets with similar attachment details can be used on roofs of all types, including trapezoid-shaped roofs.


Overall, if a building with a metal roof is located in an area that receives a good bit of snow, then snow retention can be essential for maintaining roof integrity and safety. A customized system can be installed either on new roofs or retrofitted over existing roofs. To learn more specifically about connectors, brackets, and mounting snow retention on a metal roof, visit the website of the leading manufacturer of such systems known as S-5! To learn more about standing seam and other types of metal roofing, contact your local Ceco representative.