Copper snow guards Vassar Campus (C) Daniel FriedmanSnow Guard Mounting Methods
5 Snow retention system attachment methods

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Snow guard mounting approaches: five approaches to mounting snow retention systems on roofs or using snow-retention coatings, brakes, clamps, and similar devices are described here. Detailed procedures for clamping or gluing snow guards to roofs are in companion articles listed here as well.

This article series illustrates types of snow guards or snow brakes or other snow retention devices used on metal, rubber, asphalt, and slate roofs and we explain and illustrate in photographs just how and where these devices are attached to building roofs. We give the reasons for snow & ice retainer use and their history.

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5 Snow Retention System or Snow Guard Installation Mounting Methods

Snow rail or fence on a tile roof in Norway (C) Daniel FriedmanIndividual snow guard mounting methods vary depending on the roof covering material.

All snow retention systems use one of these methods to provide snow and ice retention for building roofs.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Our photo (left) illustrates structurally-mounted snow brakes or rails on a tile roof covering the Oslo Folk Museum.

As Norway experiences heavy snow fall, you will observe that the snow brakes are installed in two tiers and a close examination shows that the rail brackets are secured to the roof structure below.


Snow guard system attached to the roof structure (C) Daniel Friedman
  1. Structurally-connected snow retainer mounts: A snow retention device or its mounting bracket is fastened through the roof surface to the underlying roof sheathing or framing structure. For steel roofs the retainer mount may be welded to the roof surface.

    For slate, tile, or shingle roofs, the leak risk of this approach can be minimal as the fasteners can be covered by subsequent courses of roofing material. For metal roofs we prefer not to puncture the metal roof surface.

    Structurally-connected snow & ice guard system mounts should be used where the loads (weight) of snow and ice are very great such as on large roofs or in deep-snow areas, or where the snow rail is itself large and heavy.

    Watch out: depending on the total loads imposed by snow and ice on a roof, failures are still possible with structurally connected snow retainer systems if the screws, bolts, or their connection points are not adequately designed & installed on the roof.

Clamp on snow guards (C) Daniel Friedman
  1. Clamp-on snow retainer mounts: for standing seam metal roofs, various patented clamps secure to the raised rib portion of the standing seam and in turn provide a base for mounting snow shoes, snow guards, or snow rails or fences.

    The clamp mounting method for mounting snow guards & fences is also quite strong and has the advantage of avoiding penetrations of the roof surface. Of course clamps mount on standing seams of metal roofs, not other roof surface shapes.

    However the weight of snow and ice trying to slide down the roof - the load - is carried by the roof covering, and is transferred to the roof structure only by the metal roof mounting clamps beneath the roof surface.

    Watch out: metal roof manufacturers warn that because snow guards mounted on the standing seam of a metal roof transfer load to the metal roof covering, good roof installation will be sure during roof installation to locate metal roof mounting clamps at a location and spacing to be sure that the metal roof is well-secured to the roof deck below areas where a snow retention system may be mounted. Otherwise loads on the roof can bend or damage the metal roofing.


Glue on snow guards (C) Daniel Friedman
  1. Adhesive-bonded snow retainer mounts: a snow guard or supporting mount for a more extensive snow retainer system is glued to the surface of a metal, glass, or plastic roof surface.

    Watch out: Most snow retention system failures occur with glued-on snow guards that were not properly bonded to the roof surface.

    Depending on the care of installation and other factors, some contractors report having difficulty keeping glued mounts in place, observing them sliding down the roof before the glue has cured or dislodging from the roof surface entirely later-on.[5]

    Note that most snow retention system product manufacturers warrant their system if it is installed according to their specifications.

    The glue-on snow guard photos below show glued-on snow guards on a glass roof at a bank drive-through structure in Rhinebeck, NY in both summer (left) and winter (right). Installing snow guards over walkways or as in this case drive-through openings can reduce the chances of falling snow-and-ice-related injury to passers-by.

Adhesive bonded snow guards on glass roof Rhinebeck NY (C) Daniel Friedman Adhesive bonded snow guards on glass roof Rhinebeck NY (C) Daniel Friedman

However we also photographed this same roof on a subsequent winter during which the bottom course of glue-on snow guards were pushed off of the glass roof surface by heavy snow loads.

See SNOW GUARD GLUE ON INSTALLATION for a detailed procedure for gluing snow-guards to a glass or metal roof system.

Clamp on snow guards (C) Daniel Friedman
  1. Clip-on Snow Retainer Systems: Atas and others offer clips that mount to the horizontal rail of a snow or ice retaining fence or rail, providing an additional degree of snow and ice retention on roofs. On a metal roof one or at most two clips are mounted in the space between the standing seams. [5][6]

  2. Snow-retention coating: for metal roofs, SnowGrip[10] offers a patented abrasive-based snow-retention coating for metal roofing. The entire roof surface is coated with an abrasive material.


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