by Dymon Brady
TPO Winter Hazards
With winter approaching, this is the perfect time to evaluate your roof and it’s performance throughout the snowy months. You may feel that your TPO roof is frustrating to manage during the winter, due to constant snow storms, and as a result, snow sliding on and from your roof. Often this snow can be mixed with ice, causing an incredible hazard to any people or objects below.
In Salt Lake City, as with other areas with moderate snowfall, normal snow levels do not slide on textured roofing systems. As a result, systems such as:
tar and gravel
do not generally experience problems with dangerous heaps of snow falling from their roof.
However, any roof installed with a metal or membrane roofing system becomes slick in the winter and can experience problems with snow sliding, even on flat roofs. Any roof with a slope of 2/12 or less is considered a low-slope or flat roof. These roofs are commonly installed with quality roofing membranes such as TPO. Most of these roofs still have a slight pitch, allowing snow to slide on their slick surfaces.
TPO Snow Retention System Dilemma
For TPO roofs, even with a low slope of 1/12, it is recommended to install a snow retention system in areas with moderate to heavy snowfall. If the snow is allowed to flow with the slope of the roof, it could build up in one area, causing damage to your roof and drainage system, or slip off the roof onto walkways or vehicles below. However, snow clips and fences are not usually as effective because TPO membrane is a flat roof system. This means that, without proper precautions, the moisture could sit around the fasteners that hold the snow fences on and cause leaks.
This can be a problem, especially since there has not been an established solution for holding snow onto TPO roofs. In the past, people have screwed down 2” X 4” planks over the TPO, but these make-shift snow retention systems were not solid. They did not hold the snow well, and in some cases the snow would even go up and over the wood.
As we witnessed this dilemma each winter at Brady Roofing, we decided to design a snow fence system specifically for TPO roofs. Our system is a TPO clad metal snow fence that can be screwed into the TPO roofing system. It is stripped in with a membrane such as TPO so it becomes sealed. It is solid, and considerably stronger than any alternative systems I am aware of. Brady Roofing’s TPO Snow Fence is 2 ½ inches tall and will hold heavy amounts of snow, putting your mind at ease. It is generally installed in a single row around the drip edge. On a commercial roof, it may be necessary to install multiple rows.
I presented our design to the Versico representative and design team. Subsequently, they have been referring companies looking for snow fence details to us. They have referred our system as being “Versico approved”. Up until now, there has been no answer to keeping snow on roofs installed with TPO membranes. We are honored that our system has been considered a recommended and approved option for home and building owners.
Our TPO Snow Fence system is available to install yourself, or we can install it for you. Keep in mind, that like any snow retention system, I have seen this system installed wrong. If installed incorrectly, it will be unable to hold snow, and may even cause damage to the roof. When installed correctly, it has been very successful and beneficial.
Some claim that a snow retention system on a flat roof is unnecessary and dangerous, stating that if too much snow piles up on a flat roof, the roof could become unstable and collapse. However, if a roof was engineered for asphalt based roofing systems, it will have no problem handling normal snow levels because TPO weighs less than asphalt. In extreme winters seek the help of a professional to remove snow from any roof system.
Our TPO Snow Fence system should prevent the need to go up on your roof throughout the winter, but if you do feel the need to get on your roof, be aware that because of the deceptively low slope of most flat roofs, they can be very slick and dangerous. Before walking around on your flat roof, be sure to shovel it first and then dry it with a towel, or install walk pads throughout your roof that will minimize any risk involved.
If you are interested in our TPO Snow Fence system, contact us for a free estimate, or explore our website to learn more about our Flat Roofing Resources.Share This: