How Do Different Loads Affect a Structure?

In construction, loads are the forces that are applied to a structure and can cause deformation, displacement or stress. It’s important for construction teams to consider the different types of loads on a structure and how they should be managed for the project to be successful and so it’s able to last long into the future.

Let’s take a look at the different types of loads and the impact each one could have on your structure:

  • Live loads: Live loads feature moving or variable loads, meaning loads that do not stay the same over time. These loads change based on how the building is used, and the building capacity. Examples of such loads include people, furniture and storage.
  • Dead loads: Dead loads are permanent loads that will always act on the structure. This includes the weight of the structure itself, such as the walls, roof, floors and other permanent features and fixtures in a building. All of these loads can be calculated by measuring the weights of the cubical contents of the materials that were used when building the structure. This is an important part of engineering—dead load will factor into how a building is made and where support must be provided.
  • Wind loads: Wind load refers to the stress placed on a building when wind acts on the surfaces of walls, roofs and pitched roofs. It exerts a certain pressure on these structural components that could disturb its stability if not properly protected against. Wind load will vary based on where the structure is located, how tall it is and how long the wind lasts.
  • Seismic load: This term refers to loads that are internal forces acting on the structure when ground movements occur from earthquakes. Seismic loads are not always a necessary consideration, but if you live in an area where seismic activity is possible, it is something the engineer for the building will certainly want to take into account in building designs and inspections.
  • Snow loads: Again, this type of load is only a consideration in certain geographic areas. A person living in south Florida does not have to worry about snow load, but it will be a key consideration for someone in northern Wisconsin. The amount of snow load on a structure depends on factors such as the roofing materials, the shape and size of the roof’s structure, how well insulated the structure is and the duration and frequency of snow in the area.

Load should always be a key consideration during the design process. Architects and engineers must calculate the possible loads the building faces and build in enough support and mitigation to ensure long-term structural stability. A failure to do so could result in weakened structure and a greater chance of catastrophe, either during construction itself or years down the road.

For more information about how different types of loads affect a structure and how to protect against them, reach out to the team at EMC2 Inc. today with any questions you have.