What you need to know about snow retention

Frozen snow sliding off of roofs is serious business!

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Injuries and even fatalities have resulted from falling snow and ice from roofs.

In addition, snow shedding from a roof can also damage landscaping, parked vehicles, lower or adjacent roof sections and even the paint finish of the standing seam metal roof itself.

When considering snow retention solutions for any roof structure the very first step is to determine the loads that will need to be held in place by the snow retention system.

Architects then should consider what types of snow retention options will be the best solution for a particular project and they should be keenly aware of the testing parameters, results and ratings of the products they are specifying.

There are two primary types of snow retention products that are most commonly specified by architects to keep snow loads and accumulations safely in check.

The first of which are roof fences. These are horizontal components, installed laterally in a continuous manner across the expanse of the roof. They are designed to hold rooftop snow accumulations in place and keep them from sliding dangerously off the roof and causing damage or injury. These fence assemblies are usually installed at or near the eaves. Depending on the specific project conditions these devices may need to be repeated in multiple rows up the slope of the roof, but always with greater concentration near the eave area.

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A second method of snow retention is a snow guard. Snow guards are small individual devices generally spot located and installed at or near the eave. Snow guards may be repeated in specific patterns progressing up the slope of the roof, but also with greater concentration near the eaves. Both styles of snow retention devices have been known to perform well when installed properly. The primary function of all snow retention devices is to restrain movement of a bank of snow by restraining its base. Snow banks on roofs are known to densify in wedge patterns so as the layers begin to thaw and the snow bank compacts from its own weight, the densest layers i.e. those with the greatest shear and tensile strength lie at the base toward the downslope end of the snow bank. For this reason snow retention devices are usually installed in multiple rows in concentrated areas at the eave end of the roof

It is highly recommended that whichever snow retention device you specify for installation on your metal roof you select one that won’t penetrate the roof deck. There are a wide variety of effective snow retention products available that will attach directly and easily to the metal roof seam and therefore not violate the integrity of the roof system. The last thing you want to do when addressing or implementing a solution for one potential problem is to create additional problems like exposed penetrations that might eventually cause leaks and moisture build-up.

For more information on choosing or installing snow retention devices on standing seam metal roof systems please contact your Englert representative.

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