What is Load ?

Definition of Load in Construction
The weight or force on a joint, connection, beam, column, etc.

Load is the biggest engineering factor when designing any structural element. The load can be a live load or a dead load.

The live load is the ever changing loads imposed by occupants, snow, water, ice, etc. that are constantly changing on the structure.

Dead load is the actual weight of the systems used to form the structure as well as any other type of constant loading that will be non – changing on the structure.

Special applications such as libraries introduce a heavy live load and the location of file systems cause heavy live loads on the structure. In today’s technology and lack of paper files, the loading of files has been somewhat reduced. Other types of load can be imposed on a structure such as hydrostatic loads, snow loads, equipment loads, etc., each specific load must be addressed when designing any structural system.

Changing loads are most commonly the catalyst of structural problems. If a structure shifts in any way, the foundations settle, elements of the framing fail, etc., then the imposed design loads on the structure change from design to however the systems are distributing the new loading arrangement. This is why a changing snow load can cause failures or the impact of hurricane force winds which cause forces not anticipated.

Changing loads patterns will cause design issues within all structures. This is the reason that a factor of safety is included in all structural calculations. However, if the shifting is substantial enough, the factor of safety calculation may not have properly represented all the loads now imposed on the structure. Load is an important factor and an essential element in structural design.