Why do we need to protect steel buildings from snow? Snow can accumulate on roofs of steel buildings and eventually avalanche to the surface below. The falling snow or ice can damage property, plants, and even people. To prevent snow avalanch, snow guards are installed in rows or multiples on roof surfaces to increase friction and improve snow retention.
So how do snow guards for steel buildings work? The accumulated snow and ice are stopped or slowed by the snow guard before they avalanche. Either they completely melt on the roof before falling, fall down more slowly instead of in chunks, or are sliced into smaller pieces so they fall safely.
Snow guards used to be traditionally made out of metal but metal tends to get brittle and break in the cold. Additionally, non compatible metal guards would also tend to cause erosion of the metal finish of the roof they were installed in due to rainwater. Because of this, transparent polycarbonate snow guards were invented.
Polycarbonate or plastic snow guards do not rust, are always compatible with metal roofs, and because of their transparency, do not alter the appearance of metal roofs. Plastic snow guards should be made from a virgin grade, UV stabilized, prime polycarbonate material with an adequate brittleness temperature.
With all that said, it is important to note that not one snow retention systems will work with all types of roofs. The type of metal roofing, seam height, and the snow guard’s mounting system should all be accounted for in choosing a snow retention system. The dimensions of the snow guard and the shape of its face should also be considered to ensure compatibility with the steel buildings’ roof as its height and face shape determine the amount of snow and ice it can hold back.
Furthermore, proper spacing of the snow guards is also important. Lastly, the snow load in the steel building’s locality should also be considered. This value can be calculated or obtained from the local zoning office or county building inspector, and even local building supply stores and lumber yards.
No, you might ask, “Can snow guard installation be a do-it-yourself project?” Yes it can. There are instructions on manufacturers’ websites for snow guard installations. However, it is always recommended to have an experienced professional do the work as roof installations can be tricky and dangerous. Like with all construction projects, it is better to invest in the best than be sorry later.