Frequently Asked Questions About Snow Guards
1. What are polycarbonate snow guards and why are they needed?
Our snow guards are water clear, molded of polycarbonate and mount to the flat part of a metal roofing panel. The snow and ice is suspended in place until it can melt off gradually and safely. Metal Roof Snow Guards provide the ultimate protection for pedestrians and prevent property damage caused by sliding snow and ice. Polycarbonates like Lexan® are UV stabilized and virtually unaffected by weather.
The plastic snow guard came about in 1976 when the late Jack McMullen was receiving negative feedback on metal snow guards in his own metal building business. In addition to getting brittle and breaking in the cold, most of the metal guards available in that time period were causing severe dissimilar metal reactions that ended up eroding the metal panel finish. In these cases the conductive liquid or electrolyte was rainwater. During evaporation water becomes concentrated and water films become more conductive, causing the initially benign water to create a dynamic galvanic effect which causes rust. This phenomenon normally begins to occur when water gets trapped in a crevice, such as under a screw or between the base of a metal guard and the metal roof. Even water lying against the face of the metal guard and the metal roof for an extended period of time can initiate the deterioration process. Painting the metal guards did not prove to be a reliable solution but it did slow the galvanic reaction process down somewhat. We did find however that with the painted metal snow guards, the corrosion would usually begin to form around friction points and in time would continue to eat its way through the guard and panel. The solution to this problem was the invention of UV stable Clear Lexan™ polycarbonate SNOJAX snow guards! This idea was so unique; it earned a patent in 1978 as the first noncorrosive transparent snow retention device.
Not all metal snow guards are inferior, as we mentioned earlier, it's mostly cheap cast guards, made to be a low-cost alternative. Our stainless steel SnowCatcher is an excellent metal snow guard product that has been on the market for many years! We also introduced the SnoCleat aluminum snow guards that can be screwed down or clamped to the seam.
3. What is the policy on price matching?
Our policy is very simple. We will match or beat any published or written Snow Guard price quote from an established reputable snow guard company. The main requirement is that we are matching Apples to Apples and not Apples to Raisins. The competitor’s snow guard must be of equal size to our product and made from the same 100 % Virgin Grade, UV stable, Clear, Lexan material used to manufacture our snow guards. We now have eight different sizes of clear polycarbonate snow guards so chances are we have just what you are looking for in stock and ready to ship today. We offer the highest quality polycarbonate (plastic) snow guards with the longest proven track record, period! All our guards have been independently tested and guaranteed to work! We will not be undersold by cheap inferior imitations! Price matching policy is only applicable to snow guards. Also for rock bottom prices check out our Clearance section. It changes from time to time so please check back frequently.
4. Are the dimensions, shape, and mounting methods of a snow guard system important?
The height and shape of the face of a snow guard determines its ability to hold back layers of ice and snow. A snow guard needs to be mounted in the lowest portion of a roofing panel where the snow and ice actually moves. A flat, non-pointed surface should stand at least the height of the seam, creating a connected field, to hold snow and ice stationary until it can melt off safely. On a standing seam floating type roof, the safest way to mount a snow guard is our adhesive method. Here is a link to our Adhesive Mounted Snow Guards. This mounting method does not restrict normal thermal expansion and contraction of floating metal roof panels. It also provides a release feature that prevents panel damage. This completely eliminates any potential impairment to the seams. The smooth edges of the SnoBlox-SnoJax reduce the likelihood of personal injury during installation and normal roof maintenance. Another style of snow guard for standing seam roofs is the SnoBar Clamp-on Rail System. With the rail systems, there are release factors so it is very important to obtain a proper spacing layout for your project so panel damage does not occur.
5. Should I use color-matched or clear snow guards?
This matter is one of preference. Clear snow guards are far less noticeable on a roof than colored ones. A color-matched snow guard will act as a sundial and cast a shadow with the sun all day. Also, if the snow guard is not the same material as the roof, painted at the same time with the same type of paint, the rate of fading will be different. This will make the color-matched snow guards more noticeable over time.
6. Do you recommend mounting snow guards with any type of tape?
Our SnowBreaker can be used with 3m tape with a bead of SB-190 installed around the perimeter. This is the only snow guard that we sell with tape because the face of the guard is pointed to break up snow and ice instead of holding it in place. Tapes generally have very little or no UV stabilization and tend to roll up underneath the snow guard when exposed to heavy shear loads. In our many years of marketing snow guards, we have never seen tapes last very long. The adherent properties of the tape change with outside UV exposure over time. In our opinion tapes have always been just a temporary solution for mounting a snow guard in cold weather. We only recommend the use of SureBond SB-190 clear sealant adhesive to permanently adhere to our polycarbonate snow guards. Note: There is no long-lasting adhesive available for copper or lead-coated copper and the use of Surebond SB-190 is not recommended on these kinds of roofs.
7. How do I find my roof pitch?
Using any builder's level placed downhill anywhere on the roof. Measure out 12 inches on a horizontal level plane. Measure up from the roof surface to the 12-inch mark on the level. This number is then placed over 12 (i.e. 4/12). Congratulations you have just measured the pitch of your roof.
8. How many snow guards does my roof require?
The correct spacing of a snow guard system is as important as the proper selection of materials that go into the design of a building. Use the Quick Spacing Guide for general project spacing layout guidelines. Always consult an architect or engineer for proper spacing requirements for your project.
9. I just want to protect a doorway or vent pipe, any suggestions?
We market a snow guard product made just for roof stack, vent pipe, chimney, and mast protection called VentSaver. Now just protecting just a doorway is a much trickier proposition and we don't recommend it. Even though we don’t recommend it, in some areas of the country where the snow doesn't frequently freeze together it is possible to retain snow on partial roof sections. This should only be attempted with an adhesive mounted guard that provides a release factor to prevent roof damage. In potentially cold climate areas that have snow and ice accumulate and freeze for several days at a time, the disproportionate loading that is created extends well beyond the secluded area of guards. This imbalanced type of load is usually detrimental to any type of snow retention device. The general rule of thumb is that snow and ice guards should be equally staggered over the entire roof so the loading is distributed uniformly. Most engineers agree it is better to have equal loading versus unequal loading on a building structure.
10. What is the curing time of the SureBond EverSeal SB-190?
When used with our Glue Down Snow Guards, the SureBond EverSeal SB-190 requires at least 672 hours (28 days) of cure time with temperatures of 50° Fahrenheit or above to adequately cure prior to being subject to a snow load. The curing process does not have to take place all at one time however it is essential that a cumulative total of at least 672 hours of 50° F. is attained. The adhesive is not ruined in cold weather, instead, it just enters a dormant stage until temperatures rise above 50° F. In many instances the delay caused by cold weather can actually double or triple the 28-day curing period.
11. What about cold weather adhesives?
Since 1985, we have spent thousands of dollars testing tapes, sealants, and adhesives and in our opinion, the only adhesive that works is the SureBond SB-190. The only minor drawback is the specific time and temperature requirements that prevent wintertime installation. To our knowledge, there are no miracle “cold weather” adhesives, tapes, or sealants that work.
12. Is snow guard installation a do-it-yourself project?
Snow Guard installation is a reasonably straightforward process, see our installation page for details on the 3 easy steps. Unless you are familiar with walking on steel roofs, we recommend finding an experienced local metal roofing contractor. Since we are the manufacturer, we do not install snow guards nor do we make specific contractor recommendations. If you decide to tackle the job yourself, it may be worthwhile investing in a RidgePro Anchor Solution to help prevent yourself from falling off the roof.
13. How do I calculate my Snow Load?
Please call your local zoning office or county building inspector. Your local building supply store or lumber yard may also know the local snow load values.
14. How does the SB-190 adhesive work, what's the warranty?
Glue Down Applications:
A chemical reaction takes place between the polycarbonate and the solvent base of the SB-190. Over 28 days the SB-190 actually chemically welds itself to the snow guard. Not all plastics can withstand this type of chemical welding without losing integrity, but we have found that after many years of selling the SB-190 product, it does not affect the high-quality polycarbonate we use. Visit our test results page to see the holding power of the SB-190 on our snow guards.
Screw Down Applications:
SureBond SB-190 is "NOT" recommended as a sealant for use with mechanically fastened snow guards. As mentioned in our installation instructions, a screw-down application of snow guards should have 100 percent clear silicone, such as our NovaFlex sealant, uniformly covering the entire underside before placement. The screws should then be snug tightened to about 50 percent compression of the washer.
The user must always determine the suitability of the products for their intended use as we do not stand behind the method of attachment for our snow retention systems due to the lack of control over workmanship. We also recommend that a manufacturer's spacing layout is used for appropriate placement of the snow guards for maximum protection, assured satisfaction, and validation of the snow guard warranty.
15. Still need a little more help?
Contact Us or Please call us at 1-866-423-2569 or 717-697-1900 and we would be glad to answer your questions.