This is Why We Recommend Specific Snow Guard Placement

First, and most importantly, Happy New Year to our clients, partners, friends and industry peers! We hope your time over the holidays was spent with family and friends, and was a warm, memorable and happy time for everyone. I, for one, took full advantage of the extra time to catch up on some much-needed sleep! My Son is at the age (12) where he’ll sleep until noon if we let him (we don’t often let him), and waking up at 8am felt like a luxury and an extra special holiday treat that was created for me!

I would be remiss if I didn’t include this image of my other kids….I mean >ahem< dogs, Tank (Golden) and Kiska (Black Lab). As you can see, these 2 fully enjoyed our extra time at home with them. And vice versa!

Now that you know the news from the home front, returning to work yesterday was enjoyable (truth), as I knew there would be a lot to write about, and especially, a lot to look forward to, in the coming year. Keeping you all up-to-date is important to us, and keeping people and property safe and intact, is the most important part of our jobs. After all, why else would we be in the rooftop snow management industry?

On a day-to-day basis, Alpine SnowGuards provides many recommended snow guard layouts for projects big and small, all across North America (and beyond). Our layouts always start with installing the first row of snow guards above the outer wall or outermost roof support.

Why is that? Why don’t we recommend installing snow guards above the overhang?

There are 2 reasons for this:

  1. The construction of the overhang may not have been designed to support a snow load on this typically unsupported area of the roof.

Roof snow load is defined as the weight of snow on the roof surface used in design of the building structure. It is determined based on multiple factors, including:

  • Ground snow load value
  • Importance, occupancy, and use of the building
  • Wind exposure of roof
  • Roof slope
  • Roof shape
  • Roof protrusions/obstructions
  • Thermal condition of the building

2. Snow management systems need to be installed above roof areas on buildings that have problems with ice-damming. The unheated overhang is where ice tends to accumulate, and holding snow and ice on this part of the roof will only compound your ice-damming issues.

Ice dams create several problems. First, they prevent snow from sliding off the roof. Snow and ice accumulation at the eave create an undesirable and unbalanced snow loading condition. A second, and potentially larger, problem that may arise from ice dams is water infiltration into the building interior.

You should plan to consult with an architect or engineer if you choose to place snow management systems above your overhang.

When there is no overhang present, the snow guards should be installed 12 to 14 inches up from the eave edge.

Installing snow guards just above doors or other isolated areas

We do not recommend installing snow guards just above doorways or on portions of an eave. Snow builds up behind an obstruction at an approximately 45-degree (or greater) angle, out from the obstruction. That additional weight on the snow guard (or other roof protrusions, like vent pipes) will often overload the system unless the additional weight of accumulated snow is taken into account during the initial layout of the snow guard system.

Generally speaking, the additional weight on a protrusion or obstruction is double the normal snow load. Even more weight must be accounted for if the section is near a valley, is in a drifting condition or is subject to ice accumulation.

It’s important to note that as a practice, Alpine SnowGuards will provide a recommended layout for isolated areas, however, we will not warranty these areas without written approval from your structural engineer.

We hope this overview will help in determining what is needed for your next snow guard project. And don’t forget – our Online Project Calculator has gone through 2 exciting phases of upgrades in recent months, so check it out, enter your project-specific info, and enjoy an immediate layout and project pricing (to name just a few of the many benefits our calculator provides).

Questions? Ask away – that’s what we’re here for!

Here’s to a successful, happy, prosperous and most of all, healthy, 2019!

We keep snow in its place


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Alpine SnowGuards®  designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facilities in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, developers, and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do.


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