Protect Your Farm Building From Snow Load in Winter

Farm building structures are essential to farming operations. They provide shelter, storage space, and weather protection. With some forethought and planning, you can construct sturdy, safe, and functional farm buildings that will last longer when tested, even in areas prone to heavy snowfall. The safety of farm buildings should not be overlooked during the winter, especially with the possibility of snow loads, which can cause a farm building’s roof to collapse.


A farm building snow load is the downward force on a building’s roof caused by snow and ice accumulation. When heavy snow meets strong winds, even the most well-engineered structures can collapse. Whether you keep livestock or agricultural machinery in your barns, a roof collapse will undoubtedly occur.


How Snow Load can Damage your Buildings 


If the snow load exceeds the weight, the roof or the entire building structure may fail. If the snow load exceeds the weight that the building was designed to bear, or if the building was poorly designed or constructed, the roof of the entry building will be damaged. It doesn’t take a blizzard to cause a slew of issues. It is critical to protect a farm building completely. A domino effect can result from an imbalance of drifting snow.


Plan for snow loads before you build


It is always a good idea to plan for snow loads before constructing a farm building. Even with some minimum loads, if the roof isn’t properly built to withstand the weight of snow, your entire farm building could collapse. Modifying a building to meet your area’s desired or estimated snow loads, on the other hand, can be time-consuming and costly.


Understanding Snow Load and Property Damage


As previously stated, snow loads are the downward force on the roof caused by the weight of snow, and it is critical to understand the cause and likelihood of property damage. It doesn’t take a blizzard to wreck havoc on your outbuildings. When drifting snow causes one component of a roof to fail, a domino effect can occur. If the snow load exceeds the weight that the building was designed to withstand, or if the building was built incorrectly, the roof or the entire structure may collapse. If you understand the cause of the snow load and the likelihood of damage, you will be able to make the necessary arrangements before the damage occurs.


Calculate how much snow your building roof can handle.

When heavy snow meets strong winds, even the best-engineered farm structures can collapse. That is why it is critical to assess your roof load and have adequate insurance in case of a disaster. It’s a good idea to always calculate your roof load and keep heavy snow from collapsing your building’s roof. Calculating the roof load on your building is a difficult task that requires a great deal of experience. The following formula from the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service can be used to make a rough estimate of roof snow load.


Calculated Roof Loading (lb/ft2) = Depth (ft) x Density (lb/ft2 /ft depth). The approximate density (lb/ft2 /ft depth) is:


  • 5-20 for light snow
  • 20-40 for packed snow
  • 40-58 for packed snow with ice
  • 58 for ice

For example, if a roof has 4 feet of light snow on it, the roof load is estimated to be 80 pounds per square foot (4 ft depth X 20 lb/ft2/ft depth density = 80 lb/ft2).


It’s always a good idea to know the roof load limits for your farm building and outbuildings ahead of time. If necessary, rebuild or strengthen them to withstand worst-case snow loads and meet local building codes.


Removing Snow from Farm buildings

Some major roof failures can be avoided by removing snow carefully. Always hire a professional snow removal service to handle the job. Because of the combination of heights and ice, this is more dangerous maintenance work. When standing on the roof, use caution, wear a safety harness, and use securing ladders. Remember to use a snow rake. It is best to avoid chipping or picking at ice because this can cause damage to the roof.

If you are comfortable working from the height of your outbuilding, we recommend that you first take the steps listed below.


Review your farm outbuilding plans for structural details

Verifying inspection records with the county is one method for determining how much weight your farm’s structures can withstand. If the structure passed inspection, you can be certain that it met the minimal snow load criteria for your area when it was built.


Monitor your roof signs of structural distress


In the winter, keep an eye on the roof of your farm building, especially if it is heavily loaded. Look for signs of heavy snow loads, such as bowed trusses, sagging, misaligned, or creaking trusses.


Wooden buildings, like metal buildings, never show any sign or warning before collapsing.



Confirm your Insurance checklist


During a heavy-snow winter, a few minutes of insurance checking can provide reassurance. Before a winter storm hits, contact your insurance company and confirm your policies. This will give you peace of mind!


Read your insurance policy carefully and make sure that it covers full building failure due to snow load. Ensure that the insurance policy covers actual replacement costs and includes costs for equipment and animals stored in the building. Check to see if valuable farm equipment stored in a barn is covered by your farm personal property endorsement.



Author bio

Luraine Saladam

Lurian writes for topics like Home Improvement, Kitchen decor, Garden or travel-related topics additionally; he has a passion for the metal building industry for more than ten years, Dean has become an experienced building specialist in this industry. His goal is to help people with his vast knowledge to assist them with his best suggestions about different Metal Buildings such as Metal garages, Church Buildings, barns, Metal Carports, utility buildings, and commercial structures.

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