In order to install snow guards on a metal roof, it’s essential to determine the pitch of your roof. This is because the pitch of your roof will determine where and how you will place your rows of snow guards. Once you have planned your installation based on your roof pitch, mark the location where each snow guard will be glued or secured to the roof. Then, carefully prepare the roof area and secure each snow guard. Snow guards should be installed in staggered rows that go no more than halfway up the roof.
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Do You Need Snow Guards on Your Metal Roof?
Snow retention systems are one of the best ways to stop snow from sliding off a metal roof. Without snow guards, snow rails, or some form of snow fence, snow can slide off your roof in a large avalanche. A sudden snow avalanche can be dangerous to you, your family, and your pets. Snow avalanches can also bury walkways, decks, and vehicles.
- Snow guards are the most effective way to prevent snow avalanches from sliding off your roof.
- Uncontrolled snow avalanches off metal roofs can fall down on walkways, cars, people, and pets.
- You’ll increase home safety and decrease winter snow shoveling if you install snow guards.
Snow guards work by holding back large amounts of snow. After guards have been installed, snow will slide off your roof in small, controlled quantities instead of massive, icy avalanches. This will prevent you from battling giant snowdrifts sliding off your roof. Snow stoppers make winter home maintenance much easier.
Types of Snow Guards for Metal Roofs
There are three main types of metal roof snow guards: Clamp-on, Screw-on, and Glue-on. Each type has its benefits and drawbacks. However, each can be effective. Read on before deciding what type of snow guard is best for you.
Clamp-On Snow Guards
Clamp-on snow guards attach to the raised portion of a standing seam metal roof. This style requires no adhesive. Also, because the installation clamps the guards to the raised seam of your metal roof without puncturing it, it doesn’t put holes in your roof. This installation type is common on “snow rail” style guards installed near the edge of roofs.
Pros: Easy installation, no screw holes in your roof.
Cons: Only compatible with standing-seam metal roofs, can only be installed on seams.
Screw-On Snow Guards
This type of snow guard is secured directly to your metal roof with screws. They are secure, but installing them does put holes in your metal roof. If they’re not properly installed, this can lead to water leaks.
Pros: Can be installed on most types of metal roofs.
Cons: Improperly sealed screws can cause water leaks.
Glue-on Snow Guards
Finally, glue-on snow guards are secured to the roof with adhesive. This type of snow guard is easy to install on any metal roof with flat sections and does not put holes in your roof. It’s often the first choice for DIYers. However, this type of snow guard is more prone to tearing free from your roof than other styles.
Pros: Can be installed anywhere on the roof, does not add to the risk of water leaks.
Cons: Not as durable as clamped or screwed snow guards.
8 Steps for Installing Snow Guards on Standing Seam Roof
Installing metal roof snow guards can be done yourself. However, the most important part of installing snow controls on metal roofing is to properly plan the installation based on the pitch of your roof. Below, we’ll walk through exactly how to find your roof pitch and install snow guards accordingly.
When working on your roof, make sure to use a sturdy ladder and enlist help when ascending or descending the ladder. Choose a period of dry days to install snow guards on your roof. Snowy, icy, and wet conditions make working on metal roofs hazardous. Wear non-slip work boots whenever you are working on a metal roof.
- Plan your snow guard installation during a period of dry, wind-free days.
- Do not attempt to install snow guards on a wet, snowy, or icy roof.
- Wear non-slip work boots for traction on metal roofs.
If you are bringing tools up onto the roof, do not try to carry them in one hand. Load tools into a bucket tied to the end of the rope. Bring the rope up as you ascend the ladder, then haul the tools up to the roof after you have climbed to the roof.
Identify Your Roof Type
Use a sturdy ladder to ascend to your roof. Then, measure the width of your metal roof panels. 16 inches (40 cm) is a standard roof panel width. Alternatively, some metal roof panels are 24 inches (61 cm) wide. The width of your roof panels is essential for planning your snow guard installation.
- Climb to your roof and measure the width of your metal roof panels.
- Most metal roof panels are 16 inches (40 cm) or 24 inches (61 cm) wide.
- If you have 16-inch roof panels, you will put one snow guard in the center of each panel.
- If your roof panels are more than 16 inches wide, you will put 2 snow guards on each panel, about 12 inches apart.
Most standing seam metal roofs have 16-inch wide panels. If this is the case for you, plan to install individual snow guards in the center of each roof panel, between the seams. If your roof panels are wider than 16 inches, plan to install 2 snow guards per-panel. The guards should be about 12 inches apart in this case.
Find the Pitch of Your Roof
Proper snow guard installation requires that you know the pitch of your roof. The pitch of your roof is the number of inches it slopes downward for every horizontal foot it travels. Different metal roof profiles require different snow guard installation patterns. In order to calculate the pitch of your roof:
- Find the Rise of your roof: this is the vertical distance between the highest point of your roof and the lowest edge of your roof. Measure straight down from the highest point at the peak of your roof to find this number.
- Find the Run of your roof: this is the horizontal distance from the edge of the roof to the peak. Measure in a straight line along the siding of your house from the roof edge to the centerline. This is not the same as the slope of the roof.
- Calculate the Pitch: The pitch is represented as the number of inches of Rise per 12 inches of Run. So, a roof with a Rise of 80 inches and a Run of 240 inches will be represented as 4/12. This means that the roof slopes downward 4 inches every 12 inches of its run.
The pitch of your roof is important for planning your snow guard installation correctly. Steep roofs need rows of snow guards close together while shallower roofs will require you to position rows of snow guards further apart.
Plan Your Snow Guard Rows
Now that you know the pitch of your roof, you can plan your snow guard installation. Snow guards are installed in rows that start 1 foot from the lowest edge of your roof and then move higher up the roof to the midpoint of the slope. Here are the installation rules for rows of snow guards based on your roof pitch:
- 0.5/12–2/12 Roof Pitch: Install rows of snow guards 15 feet apart.
- 3/12–4/12 Roof Pitch: Install rows of snow guards 10 feet apart.
- 5/12–6/12 Roof Pitch: Install rows of snow guards 8 feet apart.
- 7/12–12/12 Roof Pitch: Install rows of snow guards 5 feet apart.
It’s essential to follow these rules for pitch when planning a snow guard installation. Snow guards placed too far apart on a steep roof won’t be sturdy enough to stop heavy snow loads from turning into snow avalanches. Placing snow guards too close together on a shallow roof will waste your time and money on needless extra guards.
Stagger Your Snow Guards
Stagger your roof guards for better snow control. Moving left to right, mark the location of the first guard 1 foot from the edge of the roof. Then, plan for the second guard to be 2 feet from the edge of the roof. Repeat this pattern (3rd guard 1 foot from edge, 4th guard 2 feet from edge) for all the guards in the first row.
- Use a marker to mark the position where each snow guard will be installed.
- Stagger snow guards so that half the guards are 1 foot from the edge of the roof and half are 2 feet from the edge.
- Mark locations for additional rows of snow guards.
- Rows of snow guards should only go midway up the slope of your roof—no higher
When planning additional rows of snow guards, mirror the staggered pattern for subsequent rows. This offset pattern helps to control snow more effectively. When planning your rows, remember, snow guards should only go halfway to the peak of the roof. There is no need to install rows higher than the midway point.
Prepare the Installation Area
Once you know where each snow guard will be installed, thoroughly clean the metal roof surface. A dirty surface or uneven surface can prevent the snow guards from forming a good seal. This is especially important when installing glue-on snow guards. Carefully follow the instructions from the manufacturer to prepare your metal roof before moving forward.
Install the Snow Guards
Using adhesive, screws, or clamps, secure each snow guard following the manufacturer’s instructions. Finding the pitch of the roof and planning your installation is the hard part. Installing the guards themselves is a straightforward process.
Allow for Curing Time
Most glue-on snow guards require several days before the adhesive has fully cured. For this reason, it’s best to install snow glue-on snow guards during warm weather. Screw-on and clamp-on snow guards can be installed in cooler temperatures.
What are the Building Code Requirements for Snow Guards on a Metal Roof?
There are currently no provisions in the building code for installing discontinuous snow guards on metal roofs. Building owners can make their own decisions based on their roof pitch and roof material. However, our guidelines for installing snow guards based on roof pitch are the best way to get safe, effective use from your snow guards.
How Should Snow Guards Be Installed on a Metal Roof?
To install snow guards on your metal roof, you should:
- Choose a period of warm, dry weather to install snow guards.
- Practice safe roof work strategies by using a sturdy ladder, enlisting help, and not carrying heavy tools up ladders.
- Measure your metal roof panels—the number of snow guards per-panel depends on their width.
- Find the pitch of your roof.
- Plan the distance between rows of snow guards based on the pitch of your roof.
- Stagger your roof guards so they act more effectively as snow cleats.
- Mark the location of each snow guard that will be installed.
- Clean the roof area where each snow guard will be placed.
- Carefully install each snow guard.
- If your snow guards are the glue-on variety, allow for drying time.
By properly planning and installing snow guards, you’ll prevent snow avalanches from sliding off your roof and creating a giant bank of snow around your house.