The Critical Role of Snow Dogs

No, we’re not talking about huskies pulling sleds across the Yukon. In the roofing industry, snow dogs (also called snow guards, snow birds, or snow brakes) are an important snow management tool to install on sloped metal, shingle, cedar, and slate roofs.

What is a snow dog?

Snow dogs are angled brackets that we attach permanently to your roof. These guards protect your roof from the hazards of winter precipitation by helping snow and ice melt entirely and then drift off the roof in batches rather than all at once.

Because the weight of the snow and ice is distributed evenly and broken into small pieces during melt-off, snow dogs help you avoid a roof avalanche, which is when snow and ice are released all at once. These avalanches can damage the gutters, lower roof area, and skylights—and the people and objects below.

Type of snow dogs

Snow dogs come in copper, stainless steel, bronze, galvanized iron, and clear polycarbonate. You can choose from a variety of ornamental castings and stamped patterns for a historical, elegant look befitting many of the slate, metal, and wood roofs on which they are installed. The number of these devices required to protect your roof depends on the roof’s slope, size, and material.

There are specific types of snow guards that are best suited for slate roofs. These are loop-the-loop, alpine, and fence (continuous rod) styles as well as tubular devices which offer optimal protection.

Why install these devices on your roof?

Installing snow dogs protects your property, family, and visitors. They are typically installed above doorways, porches, and walkways where falling ice and snow can be hazardous to people and property.

The devices prevent ice dams from forming at the edge of your roof; prevent damage to your gutters, tiles, or shingles; and help you avoid expensive property & casualty insurance claims due to harm to people or damage to vehicles or landscape structures.

It is critical that snow guards are installed properly, with the correct support brackets and fasteners, to avoid damaging your existing roofing materials, especially slate and tile roofs. If you have an existing slate roof, we remove the slates, attach the guards via hooks (on the slates or on slate nails), and replace the slates. For new roof installations, we can install them on slate nails.

Contact Slate Roof Professionals for snow dog installation

Because we work on homes in northern NJ, Rockland and Westchester counties where winter snowfall can be heavy, we see firsthand the benefits of installing snow dogs on sloped roofs. However, installing these devices on slate roofs must follow specific guidelines laid out by the Slate Roofing Contractors Association of North America. These guidelines recommend a certain number of years of experience installing and maintaining slate and tile roofs.

Contact Slate Roof Professionals to discuss a plan for installing the appropriate number of snow dogs on your slate roof to maintain safe conditions—and the integrity of your beautiful slate roof.