Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Snow Guards and Other Winter Topics

Posted by: Rick

The “front” of our cabin faces north(ish). I quote the word “front” because our use of “front” and “back” when describing the cabin is highly ambiguous. By the plans we used to build it, the front is where we have the screened-in porch and a set of steps leading down to the yard. And, the back is on the opposite side, of course. However, the driveway is at the back, along with the outbuildings and the door we use to go in/out about 90% of the time. So, that entrance is often called the front. And, the front is called the back. But, sometimes we call the back the front. So, it can be very confusing.

We’ve always used the front landing for a wine fridge 

Anyway, in the past we did not use the front steps to access the yard. It became impossible to use after the first snow or two because snow would avalanche off the metal roof and pile up on the stairs and landing at the top of the stairs. Since this side of the cabin faces north, we got very little melting, so the snow would continue to pile up all winter. Sometimes, one could even climb it up to the roof. The snow pile on the landing was used more for storage of wine (we just pushed the bottles into the wall of snow), than access to the yard.

Now that we have a fenced in yard area, it is really nice to be able to let the dogs out/in via the front door. So, we really needed fix the snow avalanche problem.

Lynne, illustrating the height of the front snow bank

Because several feet of heavy, wet snow would sit on the landing and steps for many months at a time, the railings and steps had begun to rot. They were actually dangerous to use. So, we had a contractor (actually, the guy who was the general contractor for the cabin build), replace the steps and railings. (The steps are done, but the railings are custom built and not yet installed as I write this.) And, we had him put snow guards on the roof to keep the snow from avalanching. 

Snow guards are small attachments to a metal roof that stick up a couple of inches and hold the snow on the roof instead of allowing it to slide.

We also had him put some on the back of the cabin above the new deck to keep the snow there from also sliding down and covering the deck. 

So far, they seem to be working great. We did not put snow guards where the solar panels are since I want the snow to slide away from them. I actually have to get on a ladder and use a snow rake to pull the snow off the roof below the panels.

Here, there are no snow guards. Note the snow overhanging the gutters. I climb the ladder to scrape snow off the roof and solar panels here.

Here, there are snow guards on the roof. Notice how disciplined the snow is.

We may not have really gotten any avalanching like previous years anyway.

We had gutters installed on the front and back, and the gutters were acting a bit like a snow guard in that the snow did not tend to slide off in huge chunks. Instead the gutters held it back. But, it would cover the gutter and start to hang off over the eve, and then form icicles as well as drip into ice pools on the ground or the steps or the deck. Very dangerous. And, not good for the gutters.


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  • Thank you for many years of wonderful reading.  I wish you both all the best.…

    Posted to: ‘Off-the-Grid is Now Off-the-Air’ by Alica Humphryson on 03/06/2018

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