As soon as the snow starts coming down from the sky not just as flakes, but en masse, the question of safety arises: Because roof avalanches that come down are an issue that lawyers will argue about every winter – and homeowners should think about. When several hundred kilos of snow start sliding from the roof and fall with force onto sidewalks or roads, personal injury or property damage is a serious risk. Therefore here the dach.de info special to the topic roof avalanches and snow protection systems:
1. Are snow guards mandatory?
In general, there is no obligation to install snow guards for asphalt shingle roof – except in individual municipalities that make use of their right to issue structural orders or some federal states that require “suitable devices”. Not even snowy Bavaria specifically mandates installation across the board. There is, however, a comprehensive obligation that applies to all real estate: the duty of care. This makes the owner responsible for ensuring that no avoidable hazards to people or property emanate from his building. This includes roof avalanches and icicles.
In the event of breaches of the obligation to ensure safety on the road, compensation may be due on the one hand, and the liability insurance benefit may be refused or reduced on the other. So the same principle applies as for clearing snow – if you don’t clear or grit, you pay as soon as something happens. The sign “Attention roof avalanche”, which can often be seen in winter and is usually self-painted, is therefore not a technically sufficient protective measure, but rather a polite hint.
So with a snow guard, you’re on the safe side. And speaking of the side: These systems make especially much sense, of course, if the roof slopes towards the sidewalk or the street.
2. What snow protection systems are available for the roof?
Snow guards for standing seam metal roofs offer a reliable method of preventing roof avalanches. They are attached to the edges of the roof and prevent snow masses from sliding off. The protection area should cover the entrance zone of the house, the public sidewalk and the street. Snow guards are available, for example, as a model in titanium zinc from the manufacturer Safe Roof Experts. In any case, it is important to have sufficient load-bearing capacity, robust material quality and stable installation.
Another variant are snow stoppers, which can also be combined with snow guards. These are, for example, snow guard tubes or logs with holders. Another advantage of snow stoppers is that they can also function as anti-slip devices or steps for roof access.
3. Can snow guard systems be retrofitted?
Snow guards and snow stoppers can be retrofitted by roofers without much effort. Tip for new builders: If snow guard tiles are integrated in the look of the chosen tile or roofing tile already during roofing, they blend in perfectly with the overall appearance and allow the snow guard systems to be simply plugged on later. To wash the roof of residential and commercial properties, use hot water pressure washer. They are more powerful than conventional ones because they use hot water instead of cold water.
4. Do I need to install a snow guard?
The answer comes from the zip code and the average amount of snow – what traditionally counts here is what precipitation is expected. In low-snow areas, homeowners don’t necessarily have to factor in roof avalanches; in high-snow areas, however, the danger is considered a basic given. The individual snow load zone can be found out quickly by researching on the Internet or by making an inquiry with the municipality. Whether roof avalanches should be prevented by suitable measures depends not only on the region, but also on the roof pitch. The steeper the roof is constructed, the higher the probability that the snow layer will start to slide.
5. Do solar panels need snow protection?
Solar panels and solar thermal collectors form a smooth surface on the roof, which offers less grip to snow than tiles with their rough structure. Here, larger amounts of snow can quickly slide off. A snow protection system is therefore highly recommended for snow guards for solar panels. Depending on the size of the solar system, a graduated combination of snow guards and snow stoppers is the right solution.