Protect Your Team and Your Facility with S-5! Snow Retention Systems

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S-5! snow retention systems allow businesses and home owners to protect their building and its occupants by reducing the chances of accidents and damage caused by falling snow and other related issues.

Learn about the variety of S-5! snow guard and snow retention systems available from Unistrut Service Company and how they protect your building, grounds, and staff. Plus, we’ll show you how to calculate your project needs using S-5! Snow Retention Systems.

As always, help is just a phone call away. Contact us for more information about snow retention systems or to request a quote.

Dangers of rooftop snow

Snow that accumulates on rooftops poses a threat to people and objects below. When snow accumulations begin to melt, it can cause a sudden and unexpected release of snow from the roof.

This dramatic avalanche poses a serious threat to property and passers-by by dumping tons of snow onto anything in its path. This heavy mass of falling snow can damage landscape, gutters, adjacent roofs, and vehicles, and can cause injury or even death.

S-5! snow retention systems dramatically reduce the risks associated with rooftop avalanches, slowing and blocking this snow accumulation from sliding off the roof.

What about snow buckling?

Moist snow may undergo “compression buckling.” This is when a blanket of snow is stopped by the snow retention device, but then the blanket folds up over itself and over the rail, where pieces of it then break away and fall over the edge. S-5! snow retention systems can be used to combat this problem.

When the blanket of snow on the roof is dense and wet (not solidified), it may tend to undergo compression buckling, pushing a “loop” of formed snow upward from the roof surface as the heavy mass compresses toward the eave, where it is restrained by snow guards. This loop can fold over the snow retention device in the downslope direction, often breaking. In many cases, this snow can fall from the roof, causing injury or damage.

Compression buckling tends to happen more when snow blankets are thin. When the thickness of the blanket increases, it gains compressive strength. This tendency is related to both the vector force (and mass) and the compressive strength of the snow.

Therefore, the following variables are at play in snow buckling:

Slope: Buckling is more common with steeper slopes as vector forces increase.

Thickness of snow blanket: Thicker blankets generally have greater compressive strength and lower mass, and are therefore less likely to buckle.

Moisture: Greater moisture content increases mass, which in turn increases the likelihood of buckling.

Temperature: Warmer temperatures decrease compressive strength, and this increases the probability of buckling.

Length of snow blanket: Longer blankets have an increased vector and a correspondingly increased probability of buckling.

Contrary to popular myths, the height of the snow retention device plays no role in the probability of a snow blanket to buckle, and heavier accumulations decrease the probability.

Surprisingly, a thin blanket of snow poses a greater risk of buckling than thicker blankets.

This is analogous to compression buckling of a steel column, except that the properties of the snow are less predictable. The problem is noted when the snow blanket is minimal in thickness and very wet (lacking in body and compressive strength).

Two things decrease the likelihood of the snow buckling:

  1. Reducing the unsupported length of the column (snow blanket) by adding rows of snow retention.
  2. Increasing the sectional size of the column (snow blanket), i.e., increasing the snow depth, which is impossible to control. When the snow blanket increases in depth, it is less likely to buckle.

Our experience has shown us that the most effective approach for adding rows of snow retention is to add a second row some 8’-10’ above the first. If the blanket buckles above the upper row, the “loop” is usually still contained above the lower row.

S-5! Snow Retention Systems

Roof avalanches and snow buckling don’t need to pose a threat to your people or property. Unistrut Service Company is a leading provider of S-5! Snow Retention Systems, designed to work beautifully with metal roofing and standing seam roofs.

Not only does Unistrut Service Company offer these S-5! products, we also provide design and engineering services to help you invest in a snow retention system specifically engineered for your rooftops.

ColorGard: ColorGard is the only snow retention system good enough to be warranted for the life of the roof. Unlike other snow guards that yellow and fail over time, ColorGard’s unsurpassed holding strength controls snow migration with a perfect color-match that lasts the life of the roof.

DualGard: DualGard™ is the most versatile and reliable 1-inch, two-pipe snow retention system on the market for all standing seam roof applications. DualGard utilizes two patented S-5! mini clamps for extra strength versus other two-pipe systems. All DualGard components can be used with VersaGard™ and VersaGard™ V, offering a complete snow retention system for exposed fasten roofs.

SnoFence: Offered in aluminum or brass, our snow fences are designed to manage snow migration on standing seam metal roofing. Their clean lines, cylindrical shapes and high-tech appearance make these snow guards the favorite choice of architects and roof designers.

SnoRail: SnoRail retention systems dramatically reduce the risks associated with rooftop avalanches, maintaining the clean lines of the roof and lasting as long as the roof itself. SnoRail can be designed and engineered on a site-specific basis.Our SnoRail utilizes one Sno-Rod™ positioned just above the panel seams for maximum strength and minimal clutter.

VersaGard: VersaGard is compatible with almost any trapezoidal, exposed-fastened profile. No messy sealants to apply. No chance for leaks. VersaGard comes with factory-applied butyl sealant already in the base, and the S-5! patented reservoir conceals the sealant from UV exposure, preventing drying and cracks.

X-Gard 1.0: X-Gard 1.0 is our one-pipe system spanning up to 48″ seams. X-Gard can be painted, powder coated, or anodized and is designed to preserve the coveted aesthetics of any metal roof.

X-Gard 2.0: X-Gard 2.0 is our two-pipe system spanning up to 48″ seams. Like our one-pipe system, X-Gard has greater holding strength, better aesthetics, and longer service life than any other engineered pipe system on the market.

S-5! Versaclip: S-5! VersaClip makes installation easy, as it simply slides on the ColorGard crossmember. It can be used with all S-5! clamps (one per clamp), and is optional with CorruBracket. VersaClip is not needed with VersaBracket. VersaClip is also handy when installing ColorGard askew, such as is required in the valleys between intersecting rooflines.

Why you shouldn’t wait until winter to install your snow guard system

S-5! snow guard systems can make a massive difference in protecting people, landscapes, gutters, adjacent roofs, and vehicles, but your system can’t help you deal with the snow if the snow is already sitting on your roof.

Waiting until winter to install a snow retention system will pose two major issues. First, you shouldn’t wait for snowfall to invest in something that will protect your building and its occupants from that snowfall.

Second, waiting until winter can make installation more difficult. Not only will you need to spend time to clear off any snow or ice to install a snow retention system, but these conditions can make traversing the roof more dangerous.

Buying and installing an S-5! snow retention system in the summer helps you avoid these issues and ensures that you’ll be ready for any heavy snowfall come winter time.

Once you decide to invest in S-5! snow guarding, it’s time to determine what components you’ll need to complete your snow retention system.


The S-5! online snow retention system calculator can help you ensure that you have everything you need to complete your system so that it can be installed in plenty of time before winter. To use the calculator, you’ll need provide a few pieces of information:

  • Roof design snow load
  • Panel width
  • Roof slope
  • Roof length
  • Assembly length

This calculator will also recommend the best S-5! clamp to secure your system. The most commonly used clamps for this application are the S-5-S clamp, the S-5-U clamp, the S-5-T clamp and the S-5-V clamp.

Placing snow retention rows

When determining where to place snow retention rows, the first thing you want to ask yourself is, “how much snow do you really want to fall off the roof?” The Metal Construction Association has a document to help you answer these questions. Metal Roof Design for Cold Climates lays out important processes of thawing and densification on rooftops for consideration. Adding rows of snow retention systems will help stop snow in its tracks. For more information on this topic, see Buckling of Snow.

We can help

For pricing information or to learn more about S-5! snow retention systems, Contact Unistrut Service Company today.