What’s the Definition of ‘Live Load’?

A blue steel mezzanine structure with railings and stairs inside a warehouse.

In modular construction, the structural integrity of buildings is one of the most important considerations. To make sure a structure is safe, engineers focus on understanding the different types of loads that a building might bear. Live loads are one such type. In this article, we will define ‘live load’, show some examples of it, and contrast it with ‘dead load.’

What Does ‘Live Load’ Mean?

The term ‘live load’ refers to the temporary or moving forces that a structure bears during its lifetime. These loads can change in magnitude and location over time, depending on how the building is used, or who or what occupies it. For example, occupancy, or the people and their furniture and equipment, can affect the live load of a building. Engineers must account for the fact that the weight of people can vary at separate parts of the building at different times.

What’s a ‘Dead Load’, Then?

A dead load is, in contrast, the permanent or static weight of the structure itself. This includes materials and any fixed parts of installations, such as doors, roofs, flooring, etc.

Examples of Live Loads

  • Occupancy Loads: This includes people, furniture, and equipment. A residential building, for example, will have different occupancy loads than a commercial office space.
  • Environmental Loads: Accumulated snow, rain, and even wind fall under this category.
  • Dynamic Loads: This includes moving machinery, vehicles on a bridge, and elevators. They can create extra stress on the structure because of their movement.

Live loads are important in modular building design because they account for the forces that change throughout the structure’s use. Because this can vary so much, engineers must pay careful attention to what might happen to buildings under various conditions.

The Bottom Line

In any building, understanding live loads and managing them correctly is of the highest importance. In the modular construction industry, it is always necessary to incorporate accurate live load calculations into the design process so that structures remain both strong and safe.

Ready to optimize your space while ensuring structural safety? Contact Allied Modular today to get a free quote on our reliable and custom modular buildings and mezzanines.

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