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Snow sliding off roof

Posted by justducky22 (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 27, 11 at 10:22

So this past winter we had a ton of snow (we are in upstate NY). Our garage roof is metal and very steep (A-frame) and after enough snow collects on it and the sun shines on that side it will eventually avalanche off. The problem is, our neighbors fence is right next to the garage (like within 2 ft.) and when this happens it goes right on top of the fence. It actually crushed the fence one of the last times it happened. I went over to offer to have it fixed in the spring but they told me not to worry about it, that it happens all the time (they have lived there for over 20 yrs.). We have lived there for 2 winters and the first winter was not that bad so it did not happen but this past winter was really bad. We came home yesterday to see that they are putting up a brand new vinyl fence and they asked us to find something to help with the snow sliding off the roof. I have poked around online a little but still have not seen anything. I don't even really know where to look or what I am looking for. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Snow sliding off roof

How high is the fence? Is it possible for the winter to put some sort of temporary extension from your roof bridging over their fence so the snow will not drop ontop of it?

The metal roof is doing just what it's supposed to do.

Is there a reson that they need a fence 2 ft from your garage. does anyone walk in that space? Another option is to have there fence stop and start at the ends of your garage, so the garage will act as the closure for the fence next to it. You can eliminate the section of fence where the snow ants to fall and they can still have a closed in yard.

Just my 0.02.

RE: Snow sliding off roof

There are snow guards that hold the snow on roofs so it doesn't avalanche like that. The drawback is that with extremely heavy snowfall, you have to shovel the roof to get rid of the weight. And an A-frame can't be shoveled safely, and I've never seen snow guards used on an A-frame.

However, their putting a VINYL fence in a known avalanche area is plain stupid. Suggest to them that they erect a sturdy deflector in the fall to divert the snow over the fence where it's less damaging. Because you can't safely prevent the sliding.

Here is a link that might be useful: Snow Guards

Adding: This might work.

These might do it, and can be retrofitted. Check with some roofing contractors to see examples of this on an A-frame roof. If you have a standing seam roof, they clamp across the seams and provide support to the snow load to keep it from slipping off in one chunk. It still leaves you with the weight problem, so it might not be possible on your garage.

If it's safe to install, ask the neighbors to contribute, because falling snow is NOT something you can really control, and they don't have to have the fence right under the garage roof.

Here is a link that might be useful: Snow rail system

RE: Snow sliding off roof

I agree with sdello. Talk to your neighbors about running the fence to the corners of your garage. If that means it would be infringing on your property, you could have that recognized by your township to leagally give them permission to do so. They would have to be willing to let you on their property foe maintenance on your garage on that side should it ever need it, but this sounds like a peaceful solution. Out here any outbuildings such as a gargage needs to be 5' in off of the property line. Sounds like yours is only 2' but if older, granfathered in from new property line requirements.

RE: Snow sliding off roof

"I've never seen snow guards used on an A-frame. "

A-frames are designed to shed snow, not allow it to pile up excessively and load the building.

Make sure your roof will support the snow weight if you do anything to keep it on the roof.

RE: Snow sliding off roof

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. No, we do not use the space in between the garage & fence. I have no idea why they are putting up a new vinyl fence...they siad they wanted the fence to "look better". My husband basically said to me last night "oh they have lived here for over 20 yrs. and are just worried about it now? Oh well who told them to put up a new fancy fence anyway. It's not like they didn't know this would happen". I am just trying to keep the peace here. Maybe I will suggest that they go under the roof overhang with the fence. Who knows how that will go. They are pretty balck & white when it comes to who's property is who's. Will also ask about the extension over the fence. Thanks again everyone!

RE: Snow sliding off roof

Now, no one wants to be "that guy", but.....I'd contact an attorney and get stuff documented. For them to build a vinyl (!) fence, having lived there for 2 decades and knowing about the snow, then ask you to do something about the snow from *your* roof makes me think that next year, when their fence is wrecked, they're going to come after you because they asked you to remedy the situation and you didn't. Now, even if they did, they have no legal recourse, but better to be prepared.

Or remind them that the fence will not look a whole lot better when it's smooshed and shattered after the first big snow. And that you have no obligation to do anything. Thank you and good night, sir.

Last suggestion: What about a hedgerow? That provides a visually appealing barrier that should be able to withstand the snow?

RE: Snow sliding off roof

Thanks, badgergrrl. I did speak to my insurance agent this afternoon and he said DO NOT install anything on the roof that will keep the snow from sliding off...for obvious reasons but also because the garage itself is so old (1900). The roof is a newer metal roof and according to him it is doing it's job. He basically told me the same thing, that we are not obligated to do anything. I don't really think we need to take it as far as contacting an attorney. The hedge row would not work because the reason for the fence is they have a dog. If they have delt with it for 20+ years why the change now? They did not care when the other fence was crushed and it's not like it was in bad shape...just really frustrating. I am getting the sinking feeling that they are trying to take advantage of us.

RE: Snow sliding off roof

You know, I think I would do some documenting. I might write them a friendly letter laying out the history of the situation and what you understand your legal obligations to be and the choices you would prefer them to exercise, expressing regret over the situation that is not of your making, and concern for the well-being of their fence. Ask them to advise you of their expectations if the snow damages their fence. Send it registered mail, or email it so you have a paper trail.

At the very least I would ask your insurance agent to ensure that your visit to him was documented.

Also double check where the lot lines are.

You are wise to be thinking about this in the summer! But your sense that they are taking advantage of you is interesting. What do you suppose is the angle - did they maybe get an insurance pay-out from your snow crushing the fence, and maybe they hope to get another one? If that's the case, you need not break a sweat, I suppose. It is up to the insurance agency to protect itself against these kinds of abuses, and they will find you if they need info.

The only other thing I can see you doing is to use the hedgerow idea to protect the fence, but it won't work right away. You can plant a row of sturdy shrubs in the 2 foot space that will eventually be big enough to ease the weight of the snow off the fence. But in the long run you'd have to prune that from their side of the fence.


RE: Snow sliding off roof

are there neighbors on the other side? Or others on the block with whom you are friendly? Without being too gossipy, see if you can get any backstory from the past 20 years of the fence saga. That'll give you a better idea about the taking advantage possibility. Although, I'm of the mind that one's gut is usually right.....

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