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Barn Blog

January 21, 2014

Reinforcing a Pole Barn Roof for Winter

Excessive snow loads on a roof can occur as a result of blowing and drifting. Blowing snow can lead to differential loading, with a large amount of snow on one part of the roof and little or no snow in another area. Snow drifts can increase the weight load on one section of a roof significantly beyond what it would be if the snow were evenly distributed. This can cause reaction or movement of the roof's structural members. Be sure to remove the snow regularly to prevent the weight from getting to a point where it could weaken the roof.
Rain storms and ice buildup during the winter months can also increase the weight on a roof. Ice is heavier than snow and can contribute to structural weakness. Cold winter night temperatures can freeze snow that melted during the day around roof drains and scuppers, which can lead to excessive weight from snow and ice in those areas. You should carefully monitor and maintain your drains and scuppers during the winter. 
Problems with a roof's structure can lead to warning signs, such as leaks, cracks in the walls or ceiling, and sagging of structural roof elements on the ceiling. These signs will be more visible during times when heavy snow has accumulated on the roof. You should inspect your pole barn's roof at least once a year for any signs of damage or weakness. If your pole barn shows any signs of damage from overloading, consult a professional to have the roof repaired before the problem becomes worse.
To protect your pole barn's roof from damage due to snow weight, you should reinforce it prior to a storm. To reinforce your pole barn's roof, you can add an "X" to support the "A" frame. To do this, place two diagonal pieces of wood between the trusses. This will prevent a domino effect, which can occur when the weight of snow on the pole barn's roof pushes the trusses together.
You can also strengthen your pole barn's roof by bracing between the studs. Measure the distance between the studs running from the rafters to the joists, and cut 2x4s in enough pieces so that you have twice as many as the number of joists. Place one of the 2x4s between two studs horizontally one-third of the distance from the top of the stud, and screw through the studs into the 2x4 using 3-inch screws. Place the next 2x4 between the next two studs with its top face level with the bottom face of the first piece. Continue installing braces between all the studs, and then install braces one-third of the way from the bottom. When you have finished, you should have two braces between each stud, with a third of the stud above the top brace, a third between the two braces, and a third beneath the second brace.
Your pole barn is an important investment. Taking steps now to prevent damage to the roof this winter can keep it in excellent condition for years to come.

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