As most of you know, Alpine SnowGuards launched a revolutionary new rooftop snow management system, Fusion-Guard, late in 2019. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially from project engineers and roofing contractors.
This is a one-of-a-kind HYBRID system designed by a roofer, for roofers
At its core, Fusion-Guard is a pad-style snow guard.
If added protection is needed or wanted at any point after the initial installation, Fusion-Guard can be retrofit with rods (below left). Or, it can simply be installed as a rod-style system to begin with (below right).
Why is this concept such a game-changer? Because for years, snow guards have been sold in one configuration OR the other. Either pad-style OR pipe-style. Pad-style systems utilize an array (or grid) pattern of individual friction points. Pipe-style systems utilize brackets or stanchions connected by pipes/rods/rails to create a lineal barrier or barricade.
The Fusion-Guard system allows the installer to select a pad-style system,
a pipe-style system, or, based on need, a combination of both
I recently spent an hour or so on the phone with an architect who’s designing a home with a roof that incorporates synthetic slate shingles. After engaging in a pleasant discussion about how many of these synthetic materials look and function well, he acknowledged that yes, they have a more slippery surface than natural slate. It’s important to note that some of these shingles, like the one he was specifying, have a waxy, Polyolefin surface that substantially reduces the surface friction as compared to natural slate.
It’s also important to note that several of the synthetic shingle manufacturer’s first products replicated the look of natural slate very well. They have since fine-tuned their formulations and even offer products that very convincingly model cedar shingles. This is a great advancement for the roofing industry, with the majority of the natural slate market understanding that snow guards are necessary to manage sliding snow and ice. In the cedar shingle market, however, snow guards have rarely been needed because natural cedar absorbs water and freezes, holding back snow and ice naturally. It’s proving to be very difficult in the new synthetic cedar market to get homeowners, roofers and architects to recognize the need for snow guards on these new roofing materials, when they hadn’t been needed in the past. Sadly, many are learning this lesson the hard way, while replacing gutters that had been ripped off after snow has come barreling off the roof in the form of a roof avalanche.
During our lengthy phone discussion, the architect and I covered pad-style snow guards and their proper layout. We also covered pipe-style snow guards and how they perform as a barricade and about how using a combination of pipes at the eaves supplemented by pads upslope will reduce the aesthetic impact of multiple rows of pipes up the roof surface (at least for points of egress). As our conversation came to a close, the architect thanked me for the education on a topic that he had little experience with.
Can you guess what happened next??? It went something like this:
Architect: Ah, I fully understand now, thank you. But this owner will never go for pipe-style snow guards on their house, so that’s out. And my goodness, we may need 3 rows of pads on all eaves, with supplemental rows necessary for rafter lengths over 15 feet? This owner will absolutely not want to see that many snow guards on their expensive new roof. So, here’s what we’ll do: We’ll do two rows of Fusion-Guard pads above the doors. If that doesn’t help, we’ll add rods to the Fusion-Guard system. If that still doesn’t help enough, we’ll consider adding more rows in a year or two, once the owners have gotten used to the look.
To be absolutely clear, at no point during this (or any other) conversation, has Alpine advocated for two rows of pad-style snow guards. Thankfully, roofers, architects, building owners and contractors who are new to these synthetic products will more often listen to reason than completely cast it aside.
Therein lies the dilemma: people are going to do what they want to do, even when
it goes against the recommendations of the snow guard manufacturer
This is one of the reasons Alpine developed the Fusion-Guard system. It seems that regardless of what we recommend, at least on projects where there has not been a previous catastrophic event, the roof is going to be installed with two rows of pad-style guards. The Fusion-Guard system allows the roofer to “fix”, by means of retrofitting the pads with rods, those projects where recommended layouts were not followed. The system also allows for easy retrofit of additional pads for areas with high snow loads, when even 3 rows wouldn’t be enough. Take a look at the retrofit installation instructions, below:
Fusion-Guard has been a “win-win” for all parties involved. Mistakes are made every day in this industry and the roofer is often left to fix those mistakes, while also absorbing the costs. With the Fusion-Guard, roofers can now do what the building owner or project professional demands, supplementing the install with a built-in fix, all without damaging the roof.
Alpine SnowGuards has been in the snow management business since 1993. Prior to that, since 1977, we were in the historic roofing business. We can assist with layout recommendations, engineering calculations and even stamped engineered layouts. Having been involved in the roofing business for over 40 years, we recognize that cost and aesthetics are both important factors when selecting a snow management system. The Fusion-Guard system addresses both of those factors and will not leave the roofer holding the bag.
Until next time….
President and 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.