Retrofitting Fusion-Guard to Existing Slate Roofs

Last Tuesday we officially launched our newest product, Fusion-Guard, a hybrid pad/pipe-style snow guard. We’re often asked all sorts of questions about our products, especially one like Fusion-Guard. It’s new to the industry AND new all around, as it’s the only one of its kind ever brought to market. I received one such question this week, and thought it was a deserving topic to write about – after all, if one person has this question, you can bet there are more people out there wondering the very same thing.

The question pertained to the feasibility of retrofitting Fusion-Guard to existing slate roofs.

As a former slate roofer and as the author of The Slate Book as well as of the publication, Slate Roof Quarterly (no longer in circulation), I can understand the caution as it relates to slate roofs. Snow management systems on slate roofs, when not designed and installed properly, can sometimes cause more damage than they’re intended to prevent.

Probably the biggest difference between the Fusion-Guard system and traditional “pipe-style” systems, is the attachment mechanism. Traditional pipe-style systems utilize a structural base plate that’s typically the size of a piece of slate. Below are a few examples.

Alpine SnowGuards uses allowable load values for these systems that start at roughly 1,800 pounds per bracket, depending on fasteners, metals used, etc.

The Fusion-Guard system, at its core, is a pad-style snow management system. As such, each bracket (pad) has an allowable load value of 300 pounds per. To be clear, the test values for these parts exceed 1,000 pounds each, but the weak link in testing varies between existing fasteners, material type, roof deck and concentration of friction points (snow guards).

The point I’m trying to make here is this: Strength doesn’t always translate into volume of snow a system will retain.

In addition, pad-style snow guards are spread out in an array over the entire surface of the roof, like in the photo below.

Above image:

Project: Cornell University – Goldwin-Smith Hall, Ithaca, NY

Snow guards installed: PD10-CU, ASG33-BR  

Image from: Charles F. Evans Co., Inc., Elmira, NY

Pipe-style snow guards, on the other hand, are historically installed in continuous runs along the eaves. Traditional pipe-style systems require a stronger base to perform as intended.

Above image:

Project: Historic renovation of a 1916 Army Navy Association Building, Portsmouth, NH

Snow guards installed: PP125 powder-coated Signal Black

Image from & Installation by: Twin Metals, Billerica, MA

 The beauty of the Fusion-Guard system is that it can be installed with new roofing OR existing roofing. It can be retrofit to work with any type of roof. The pads will work by themselves as a traditional snow management system, or they can be retrofit as needed to function as a pipe-style system, providing the added benefits of a continuous barricade.

You have options when it comes to desired functionality:

  • Pad-style alone
  • Pipe-style supplemented with pads
  • Multiple tiers of fence-style with loads distributed more evenly over the entire roof surface. Distributing the load allows the Fusion-Guard system to retrofit existing slate roofs easily and without damage.

Feel free to leave a comment or question – I’m more than happy help. You can also email me directly at

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you would like a sample kit of Fusion-Guard sample kit sent your way, just let us know.

Until next time….

Brian Stearns

President & Founder, Alpine SnowGuards

We keep snow in its place


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Alpine SnowGuards designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facility in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, developers, solar installers and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do. Alpine SnowGuards can help a building qualify for LEED® credits.

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