Answers to FAQs You May Have about Snow and Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is made to sustain any kinds of weather.  Of course they perform well in rain, but what about snow?  If you question the performance of a metal roof in a cold weather climate, just look around when you take a drive.  Metal roofing is everywhere.

Is it ok if Snow Accumulates on a Metal Roof?

Weight from most heavy snows will not damage a metal roof. The builder or engineer will design the structure underneath the surface to accommodate the average heaviest snowfall capacity.  There are building codes in place so a roof will support both a light fluffy snowfall, or a heavy dense wet one.

If Snow Accumulation Occurs, Is That a Problem?

Generally, only the heaviest snows can cause problems.  Sometimes, a wet, heavy snow will fall, and once the system leaves the area, the temperatures drop.  If this is the case, it may turn to ice pretty quick, and ice is heavier than snow.  Metal roofing is slippery, resulting in snow sliding off the surface to the ground so not all snow will remain on the roof.  But that’s another topic to be addressed.

If Snow Needs to be Removed, How Should I do it?

Beware: Snow removal can be dangerous (on any roof… not just a metal roof). Light amounts can be removed with a snow rake if you can reach your roof from the ground. If the snow accumulation is heavy or if the roof cannot be reached from the ground, talk to a roofing contractor to have the snow removed for you.  If you use a rake on a metal roof though, you have to be sure it is made of materials that will not scratch the painted surface of the metal roof.

Is Snow Falling from My Roof Dangerous, and How do I Prevent it?

Snow that slides off of your metal roof onto the ground could potentially cause harm if it all slides off in a one large chunk. If you observe a relatively large section of snow that has accumulated in one particular area, be on alert.  It may suddenly drop at any time.

A snow avalanche is not uncommon with metal roofing.  But this can be avoided by installing snow guard systems.  Typically, snow guards are either rails or small pieces attached to the roof that stop sliding snow and allows it to accumulate along the eaves.

How do Snow Guards Work?  Is there anything else that can be done?

Snow guards prevent snow from falling off the roof in one large clump.  The also allow snow to melt off your roof gradually.  Two styles are available through All American Steel.  They are the Rail System, typically attached using clamps to the standing seams, and the pad style, which are small “pads” that are attached to the roof directly, by either an adhesive or directly screwed to the surface.

Some roofing installers may put in heating devices like heating cables to melt the snow quickly and efficiently. Your roofing installation expert can help you decide which device is right for your roof.

It’s always important to keep your gutters clear throughout the winter, to ensure that melting snow can drain properly. Remember when we mentioned Ice previously?  Ice accumulation can occur along the gutters.  This can be a result of poor insulation, or problematic along the eaves.  A result could be the formation of dangerous icicles.

Can I DIY Install a Snow Guard on My Metal Roof?

Have a snow guard installed by a professional roofer. Do not attempt to DIY your snow guard.  Roofing can be easily damaged by people who are not specially trained to work with the tools and materials.

Could My Metal Roof Rust, And Do So, During Winter?

Metal roofing should not rust in winter. The concern should be more about corrosion.  If two different types of metal touch one another, corrosion can be the result. The corrosion can cause the rusting. The best way to avoid this problem is to have your metal roof installed or maintained by a professional contractor. A good roofing contractor will know which types of metal screws should not be used on your roof, as certain types of metal don’t play well together.

Tell me about Ice Dams.

Have you ever noticed how ice dams form at a roof’s eave? This happens when heat loss through the roof melts snow on its surface. The meltwater then flows to the eave overhang, where it is likely to refreeze. This ongoing thaw-freeze cycle causes ice to build up and create a dam that prevents water from properly draining off the roof. Consequently, pooled water can back up and go under the roofing system, and when it freezes, eventually will cause cracks, leaks, or other issues.

Can you replace a roof in the winter?

It’s not very common to see roofing crews working in the winter up here in the north, but you can install metal roofing year-round. Asphalt shingles generally can’t be installed at temperatures below 45 degrees, because it causes them to become brittle and break during installation.  Steel on the other hand great solution for those living in the cold where a roof replacement is imperative.

Bar Style Snow Guard
Snow Guard Rail Clamps

A bar style snow guard features a horizontal metal bar that runs the span length of the roof’s eaves.  Acting as a barrier to snow and ice, the bar stops the snow in its tracks from a major avalanche. Bar style snow guards, such as ColorGard by S5! are the most popular type of snow retention system, having superior performance.  Learn more about bar style snow guards here.


Pad Style Snow Guard

Pad style snow guards are small devices made of plastic, metal, or stainless steel that are installed in multiple rows across a roof. They are not a continuous set of snow guards running across a roof.  They are installed either by being adhesively mounted to the roof panel, or by being mechanically fastened down with screws penetrating through the panel surface. Learn more about Pad Style Snow Guard Systems Here.

Pad Style Snow Guard System
Time to Order Snow Guards?

If you live in an area prone to frequent snowfall and have a metal roof, we strongly recommend you consider adding snow guards. All American Steel offers snow retention systems that can be easily installed on a standing seam or exposed fastener metal roof.

Contact the team at All American Steel today on our website or by calling 608-377-7200 and get an estimate on materials for both an exposed fastener system and standing seam / concealed fastener system.  We can do the design work, renderings, materials lists, provide the materials, and handle delivery to the jobsite.  You can also visit our display at the All American Do it Center home improvement stores in Tomah, Sparta, or Richland Center Wisconsin.