Durable Difference: Snow Guards

December 13, 2017

If you have a slate, tile or metal roof, be prepared for winter.

By installing snow guards on any of these roofs, homeowners can protect their property and themselves, said Mark Sherby, a quality control expert for The Durable Slate Company.

“They act like a safety net, helping to prevent snow and ice from sliding off the roof,” Sherby said.

Snow slides are caused as friction is lost between the snow and the slate roof. This can be due to heat loss from the building or from the sun causing the snow to melt. Water from the melting snow acts as a lubricant and allows the snow to slide down the roof.

Once dislodged, this high volume of snow and ice can end up damaging lower roofs, gutters and anything else on the ground level.

“It doesn’t take much. A chunk of snow and ice, falling only 10 feet, can do a fair bit of damage,” Sherby said.

In addition to slate roofs, homeowners with tile roofs (especially Spanish tile) or metal roofs will experience similar issues of snow and ice slides.

Like any good product, it is nothing without proper installation.

“We know how to properly install snow guards without damaging the existing slate or tile,” Sherby said. “By using an inexperienced contractor, it can lead to more problems down the road.”

The location and spacing of the snow guards is just as important. Sometimes, the entire perimeter of a building needs protected with some type of snow retention system. While in other cases, it may be enough to protect specific areas, such as walkways and entrances, lower roofs, skylights, gutters, landscaping, parking areas and mechanical units. Three rows of snow guards – a staggered pattern – will help prevent snow or ice from slipping through the gaps.

A solid, reinforced snow guard should last the life of the home, Sherby said.

“Some snow guards can be retrofitted to work with existing slate and tile roofs,” Sherby said. “Generally speaking, we don’t need to remove and reinstall slate or tile.”

For larger buildings, like churches, schools and commercial buildings, Sherby recommends installing a snow rail system. Essentially a metal rail, it can extend the entire length of the roof.

“It is a much stronger attachment and can typically handle a much higher amount of snow and ice.”

Mark Sherby works out of The Durable Slate Company’s Columbus branch. Working in the Quality Control Division, Mark has more than 15 years of experience on slate and tile roofs.