The first snowfall of the season is often bittersweet. There’s an initial excitement as you watch the snow fall slowly, but that quickly turns to dread as the snow accumulates and there’s no sign of it stopping. As the snow covers the roads, becomes a burden on sidewalks, and settles on rooftops, it not only becomes a hindrance, but also a potential dangerous liability.
While snow plows take care of the roads, and snow blowers adjust the sidewalks - the most forgotten aspect of snow clearance is often rooftops. This is highly problematic when the snow starts to thaw and has potential to fall off the roof.
Some building managers believe that posting advisories of falling ice and snow from above is an acceptable solution to the problem. Others, may see this ‘solution’ as an open invitation to a lawsuit - something that should definitely be avoided.
One way to avoid potential liability is by acknowledging the issue with snow and ice falling from the roof and implementing snow guards.
A snow guard is a device or system that retains snow pack on a roof. The purpose of a snow guard is to facilitate the evacuation of the rooftop snow in a “predictable and controlled” fashion. In other words -- evaporation (sublimation) and thaw, rather than by a sudden and dangerous rooftop avalanche.
When it comes to choosing a snow guard, a one size fits most isn’t necessarily applicable since each roof will have a different need. This will depend on the type of roof, the size and slope, and the amount of snowfall it will receive. For instance, some roofs may benefit from the ColorGard bar/rail snow guard system while others could use the X-Gard 2.0 two pipe system.
So when selecting a snow guard, you need to be certain the snow guard is compatible with your roof AND environment. Always contact an experienced snow guard manufacturer or distributor to review roof specific tested systems and develop a calculated layout.
Close scrutiny needs to be paid to assure the snow guards you may be considering have been throughly roof specific tested by an independent third-party lab, has a strong warranty and is recommended by the roof manufacturer it will be attached to.
Although we predominantly focused on snow guards protecting pedestrians from rooftop avalanche conditions, snow guards also boast a variety of other benefits such as:
● Protects landscaping
● Protects building and roof elements
● Limits your liability
● Protects building occupants and pedestrians
● Reduces maintenance costs.
It’s important to remember that for building owners & managers, if snow falls off the roof of your establishment and injures a pedestrian below, you can be liable. Mitigate the risk by installing a snow guard today.