Portable Shelters and Heavy Snow Loading: The Top 5 Things to Consider
As winter approaches, you may be getting ready for the more challenging weather conditions it brings. Depending on where you are in Canada, that may mean a lot of snow and ice!
Whether you’ve got a Slip Tube custom shelter or some other type of commercial shelter or shed, there are a few important things to consider when it comes to heavy snow loading.
What is Heavy Snow Loading?
The term ‘snow load’ refers to the downward force exerted on the roof of a building by the weight of snow and ice. The more snow and ice there is accumulated on top of a portable shed or portable shelter, the heavier the load is and the greater the force is.
When the weight of the snow load is greater than the weight the structure was designed to handle, the roof or even the entire structure can fail. This is even more likely if the shelter or shed was not designed and constructed properly. So, what can you do to ensure that your structure will survive the winter?
The Top 5 Ways to Ensure Your Structure Can Handle Heavy Snow Loading
If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and wind, then you should be thinking about how to protect your structures. These factors are especially useful to consider before building a new portable shelter or shed.
Site-Specific Engineering Matters
The design and construction of a structure should depend on the location in which it is being built. Sounds obvious, right? Yet, it is all too common to see “pre-engineered” structures available on the market.
We’ve talked before about things to beware of when buying custom shelters, and structures that promise they can withstand Canadian winter (particularly overseas products) are one example of those. That’s because there is no one type of Canadian winter – the winter weather conditions vary greatly between eastern Canada and Vancouver, and everything in between.
Due Diligence on Your Part
No matter what kind of portable shelter you have, whether it’s a commercial greenhouse or a custom shelter for industrial storage, you can’t just have it built and forget about it. In cold months, you need to pay attention to the weather and make sure that snow gets cleared off the structure.
It’s important to remember that no matter how much bracing there is or how close the arches are, your structure can still fail in extreme weather if you don’t prevent heavy snow loading. If a heavy snowfall is followed by rain and then freezes, for example, you’ll have a heavy mass on the roof that you need to get down.
At Slip Tube, we build our custom shelters with enough of an arc to naturally enable the shedding of snow and ice. Even if this is the case, you still need to keep an eye on the structure.
Heating of Portable Shelters
If you are in a harsh climate with heavy snowfall, you may want to consider heating the building, depending on how it’s built. This involves a careful balance between structural design and the building’s intended use.
If your commercial shelter will have people working inside it, for example, it may make sense to heat it, which reduces the risks of heavy snow loading by causing the snow to melt off before it can accumulate too much. On the other hand, if your portable shed is meant to store sawdust, heating may not be viable.
Insulation of Portable Shelters
Like heating, adding insulation to your structure can help regulate the temperature and reduce the likelihood of heavy snow loading.
At Slip Tube, the insulation we use is made of two 96% reflective layers of film bonded to two internal layers of heavy gauge polyethylene bubbles. This reflective technology can be a cost-effective way to preserve some heat. The R value varies depending on application, but a single layer of the insulation ranges from R-4 to R-5.
Consider Where the Snow Will Go
It’s easy to remember that excess snow will need to be cleared off your structure, but it’s also worth considering where it will go! For example, you don’t want to remove huge amounts of snow from the roof only to find that you’ve blocked a door or other important area.
At Slip Tube, we address heavy snow loading by ensuring that we don’t build one structure right next to another without a gutter. When we do build structures with a gutter in between, we also suggest installing trace heating in the gutter itself to ensure that snow melts and drains away.
How Slip Tube Addresses Heavy Snow Loading
Now that you have an idea of what to watch out for when it comes to avoiding the dangers of heavy snow loading on your portable shelters, learn how we go above and beyond to provide durable, affordable shelters and sheds.
Consulting Engineers to Ensure Sound, Location-Specific Design
One advantage of having a custom shelter designed by Slip Tube is that we partner with an engineering firm that can design buildings for any snow load requirements. Different municipalities (or counties in the US) have different per-square-foot snow loading requirements that are usually higher than what’s expected to fall for a safety margin. We can build structures that meet any requirements by modifying the placement of arches and adding shoulder and diagonal bracing.
Our partner engineers can also provide engineer drawings required for permits, though we always consult with the engineer even when permits aren’t needed so that we design a structure that will withstand extreme weather.
Different, Customizable Building Shapes
Slip Tube offers two different shapes when it comes to our structures. The Gothic design is peaked and provides better natural snow shedding capabilities due to a steeper roof slope. These can be built up to 32 feet wide. Our other design is a Round building, which can also be built for heavy snow loading if this type of structure is better suited to your overall needs.
Durable and Affordable Solutions for Winter
If you’re looking for a storage option in an area where the whole yard gets covered in snow every winter, but you don’t want to invest in an expensive building, Slip Tube is an ideal solution for you. We design structures that help you save on covered storage and still give you the height clearance you need to use machinery like forklifts.
Our carefully designed structures are your best bet for preventing damage to any materials you’re storing throughout the winter. We have experience designing structures for areas with very high snow loads and even installing on frozen ground, so you’re in good hands with us! Contact us today to learn how we can help.