Snow and ice on the roof – when is protection necessary

Snow guards for metal roof

Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by

A snow and ice protection system on the roof is necessary in some cases because wet snow, in particular, can reach enormous weights: While even powdered snow can reach weights of up to 40 kilograms per cubic meter, a cubic meter of wet snow weighs up to 500 kilograms. Therefore, sophisticated snow protection is needed not only in areas with heavy snowfall to protect people and objects. Appropriate measures are also required nationwide in the relevant building codes and model building codes of the federal states.

Why is a snow guard necessary?

Effective snow and ice protection for the roof prevents tricky situations: Snow sliding off the roof can be dangerous due to its weight, especially for passers-by and residents. This is due to the fact that snow loads usually fall without warning and only very few walkers pay attention. Parked cars can also be damaged in this way.

It is not only the risk of injury that is important here, but also the liability of the homeowner: if the roof is not adequately secured, the homeowner must pay for any injuries and property damage that occur.

Snow guards and other roof protection systems

The most common products for ice and snow protection are snow guard grids, snow guard pipes and snow guard hooks. Basically, these different systems ensure that the snow on the roof does not cause any damage and that avalanches cannot form.

Snow guard grids and pipes basically work according to the same principle: they catch the snow on the roof before it can avalanche. They are usually located relatively far down on the roof, so that most of the snow is stopped. In addition, it does not get into the gutter, where the mass and weight could lead to a damaged or even falling gutter. Blockages or overflowing are also prevented with this protection. Snow guard pipes can also hold very large amounts of snow without any problems and provide reliable protection. Grids and pipes are equal in their functionality depending on the static design. Here you can therefore decide which system you prefer.

Snow guards for metal roof also offer extensive protection against ice and snow falling from the roof. Here, the function is primarily to prevent the snow from accumulating and sliding down like an avalanche: The snow is forced by the individual hooks to spread evenly on the roof. In this way, there are no point loads on the roof and the snow can thaw in a controlled manner. The advantage of this system over catchment grids is that accumulation at the eaves or other points of the roof is avoided and the load is distributed evenly on the roof. This is particularly useful for older roofs.

Appearance and installation

For many homeowners, in addition to the protective function, the appearance of the protection systems is also decisive. Most snow guards for shingle roof and systems for ice and snow protection for the roof are offered to match the roof covering. The majority of models are galvanised and powder-coated, so that the color can be chosen individually.

A roofer must always be commissioned for installation. This person will choose a suitable model with you, because the large number of suppliers makes it difficult to find a reputable dealer with a reasonable price-performance ratio. In addition, work on the roof must always be adequately secured: a roofer has the necessary safety harnesses and the appropriate clothing to carry out the work safely. Furthermore, do-it-yourselfers do not have the necessary expertise to install roof avalanche protection – if it is not installed properly, the snow cannot be intercepted and roof avalanches are again the result. In the worst case, the incorrectly installed components also slide off the roof with it, causing even greater damage.

The snow guard and the snow and ice protection for the roof are usually installed directly with the roofing during new construction or renovation. This saves renewed costs for the installation of the scaffolding and the repeated hiring of the specialist. Subsequent installations are also possible, but are somewhat more cost-intensive.

Before the installation, the roofer checks the condition of the roof and the roof covering: sometimes damage has already been caused by frost or thawed snow, which must be removed before the actual work can be carried out. As a rule, snow guards are installed in several rows. This guarantees optimum stability even in the event of very heavy snowfall. While the snow guard tubes and grids are usually only installed as individual models, snow guard hooks must be attached to approximately every second roof tile or roof tile to ensure functionality. Sometimes, grids or wooden or plastic tubes are also inserted into the hooks in order to be able to intercept larger amounts of snow.

In addition to safety, don’t forget to keep your metal roofing snow guards clean. For your roof to be clean and to last you a long time you need to use a portable pressure washer. It will perfectly cope with their tasks, as well you can wash the walls of the house, car, bike, patio.

Who needs a snow guard or a protection system for ice and snow on the roof?

Whether you should have a snow guard or another protection system for your roof installed on your house depends on various factors. Basically, the ordinance of the province and the municipality applies – in areas with heavy snowfall, the municipalities regulate the installation of protective measures with regulations. If these are not complied with, fines may be imposed. Furthermore, the necessity of such measures also depends on the slope of the roof – the more pointed the roof, the more likely snow avalanches are. Some municipalities therefore only prescribe roof avalanche protection from a roof pitch of more than 45 degrees.

You can discuss whether you should or even must install a snow guard or other protection system against snow and ice for your roof in your individual case with a roofer. He can calculate the average snow load on the roof in your region with the help of a current snow zone map and also refer to DIN 1055-5: This standard takes into account, among other things, the roof pitch for calculating the snow load. He can also obtain the necessary information from the responsible municipality – so you can be sure to find out whether a snow guard is obligatory for your house.


The various systems for snow and ice protection for the roof basically have the function of preventing snow masses from falling in a jerky manner. This protects passers-by as well as cars and the occupants of the house from injury and property damage. In some communities and regions where snowfall is particularly heavy, these protection systems are even mandatory – anyone who does not comply with these regulations can be held liable for accidents. A basic distinction is made between snow guards, snow pipes and snow hooks: these systems are mounted on the roof by an experienced professional from a guild company and thus ensure that the snow neither clogs the gutter nor falls in large quantities onto the street.

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