The Pro-Line Building Blog

How to Protect Your Pole Barn from Winter Weather

Posted by Bill Maschmeier on Mar 27, 2019 2:14:00 PM


Known for their versatility and durability, pole barns make an extraordinary asset for almost any use. While pole barns require relatively little maintenance compared to other building types, they should be protected against the harsh winter weather that comes with living in Iowa and the rest of the Midwest. Just a little preparation can dramatically increase the lifespan of pole barns and maximize their utility. Below are four simple strategies to protect your pole barn from the elements and extend its lifespan. 


Year-Round Maintenance

The best way to protect any building, including pole barns, is simply conducting year-round maintenance. Small problems, such as occasional leaks, unsealed doors and windows, and dents in the siding, can grow over time into serious structural damage. While small problems are relatively easy and cheap to repair, larger structural damage is far more expensive and time consuming, potentially putting the building out of commission for an extended period. 


Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams can cause significant structural damage to pole barns during winter weather. Ice dams form when the snow on a pole barn’s roof begins to melt, causing water to build up and re-freeze along the roof’s margins. This ice buildup can slowly creep up the roof, where it can seep back under the shingles and cause serious leaks. These leaks can lead to rust, peeling paint, sagging drywall, and stains around windows and doors.

Since ice dams occur when the ice in the center of the roof melts before the ice on the roof’s margins, the most effective way to prevent ice dams is to ensure that the entire roof remains cold. Ice often melts in the center of the roof due to internal heating. Attic bypasses, attic insulation, and roof and soffit vents can help keep the entire roof a consistent temperature and prevent ice dams.  


Manage Snow Load

Large snow buildup can place hundreds or even thousands of pounds of extra weight on a pole barn. While the building codes in each region require buildings to withstand that region’s snow loads, a particularly large snowstorm and extended snow buildup can structurally damage your pole barn. Snow buildup can also cause a roof avalanche, which can happen suddenly and damage gutters, landscaping, and people on its way down.

The simplest way to protect pole barns from snow buildup is to periodically use a roof rake to remove excessive snow. The aim of a roof rake is not to remove all snow—just enough to protect the structure of the building. Since the roof and the area surrounding the barn will be extremely slick following a snow storm, people should be extremely cautious when removing snow. Additionally, snow bars attached directly to the barn’s roof can prevent snow avalanches from sliding off the building too quickly and damaging the gutters.  


Structurally Prepare for Snow Loads

When designing and a constructing pole barn, special attention should be given to the building codes that specify what snow loads the building should withstand. However, building codes change over time, so an older pole barn may need to be reinforced because it’s no longer up to current legal standards and the changing environment.

The elements of a pole barn most structurally important for withstanding heavy snow loads are the purlins, trusses, truss carriers, posts, and footers. The design of a pole barn should use these elements strategically to increase the pole barn’s durability during heavy snow storms. Specifically, the pole barn should use machine-stressed lumber, effective truss construction, appropriate purlin spacing, and a drainage system that moves melted snow away from the barn. While reinforcing a pole barn is possible, it is often expensive, time consuming, and complicated, so pole barns should be built to withstand even severe snow storms. 


A Contractor That’s Right for You 

The professionals at Pro-Line work closely with clients to build exactly what they envision while ensuring the building is well constructed and prepared for winter weather. With Pro-Line’s local sales consultants, estimators, project managers, and crews, you will receive individualized attention every step of the way, from the design through construction to the finishing touches. Contact Pro-Line today to learn more about pole barn designs that will suit your needs and withstand even the harshest winter weather. 

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Topics: Agricultural & Storage, Equine, Hobby Shop