Plastic Roof Snow Guards: What You Need to Know

Plastic roof snow guards 101

One of the dangers associated with winter conditions here in Minnesota is falling ice or snow from the top of buildings. When snow or ice builds up over the course of multiple winter storms, it can get compacted inside roof gutters. It can then break off in random chunks as it melts, causing snowslides that present a huge safety hazard for people walking below! Snow and ice retention can also damage the home itself. Help snow to melt off safely to prevent injury or property damage by installing plastic roof snow guards. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a plastic roof snow guard?

A plastic roof snow guard is a device that helps to break up snow and ice into smaller sections to prevent snow retention that can cause dangerous snowslides. Compacted snow and ice can damage roofing and create a safety hazard to people walking below. Breaking snow into smaller sections prevents buildup and accelerates the melting process so that snow melts off safely and efficiently. Install plastic roof snow guards to prevent injury and potential damage to your roof or property.

Why plastic roof snow guards, not metal?

There a few different reasons why plastic is a more preferable material for snow guards than metal. For one, during the evaporation process, water becomes more concentrated, producing a galvanic effect which causes rust to form. Over time, rust will make the roof erode and deteriorate more quickly, requiring frequent costly repairs and replacements of roofing components.

Secondly, when exposed to extreme cold temperatures like those we experience during Minnesota winters, metal can become brittle and break. If your metal roof snow guard breaks, it can cause exactly the problem it’s intended to prevent—a dangerous snowslide.

Finally, metal roof guards do not blend in to the design of the house and can be a cosmetic drawback.

Does the layout matter?

Absolutely! Layout and spacing are essential for the plastic roof snow guards to do their job. The most common mistakes people make with snow guards are not using enough and mounting them only by the eaves.

The ideal layout of plastic roof snow guards features multiple staggered rows of guards up and down the rooftop. Placing guards only along the eaves of the roof allows an overload of snow to build up along the lower section of the roof. This allows too much room for snow to build up velocity sliding down from upper sections of the roof. Staggering the guards distributes the buildup of snow and ice across the whole roof, more effectively breaking up snow retention and thereby preventing structural damage due to unbalanced loading.

Experts can determine the ideal placement of rows and spacing for your roof based on factors such as pitch, panel valley width, snow load design, and run length (distance from peak to eaves).

When in doubt, hire an expert to design and install your plastic roof snow guards. You don’t want to have to replace the whole system next season after it fails and causes property damage.