What is a Dead Load? The Ultimate Guide

Modular mezzanine structure with storage boxes and equipment on the ground level in an industrial facility.

What enables a mezzanine to safely support its own structure along with all permanent fixtures? The answer lies in the accurate calculation of the ‘dead load’. In any construction project, it’s important for engineers to know the different types of loads that will weigh on a building’s structure, and one of the most important loads is the dead load. In this article, we’ll cover what a dead load is, some examples of them, the differences between dead loads and live loads, and more.

What is a Dead Load?

A dead load refers to the weight of all the permanent parts of a building. It is called “dead” because these parts do not move and are unchanging throughout the building’s life. This includes the structure itself and its materials, such as walls, floors, and ceiling, as well as fixtures that may be within it, such as plumbing, lighting, and HVAC equipment. In short, dead loads are the immovable parts of a building that remain constant over time.

What are Some Examples of Dead Loads?

Categories of Dead Loads Examples
Structural components Walls, floors, roofs, ceilings, beams, columns
Permanent fixtures Plumbing fixtures (sinks, toilets, bathtubs), lighting fixtures, built-in cabinets, kitchen cabinets
Mechanical systems HVAC units, ductwork, radiators, ventilation fans
Electrical systems Switches, outlets, circuit breakers, wiring
Flooring and finishes Carpet, tiles, hardwood flooring, wall finishes

(Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.)

What’s the Difference Between a Dead Load and a Live Load?

As we have discussed, the more permanent aspects of a building are considered dead loads. ‘Live load’, on the other hand, refers to the weight of temporary or movable objects within the building. This includes occupants, furniture, equipment, and any other movable items.

For example, consider a conference room. The live load in a conference room would consist of the weight of chairs, tables, and the occupants using the room. In contrast, the dead load of the room would consist of the walls, ceiling, and any fixtures.

To demonstrate the differences further, here are a few examples of each type of load:

Live Loads Dead Loads
Occupants (people) Walls
Furniture (chairs, tables, etc.) Floors
Office equipment (computers, etc.) Ceilings
Machinery Roof structures
Movable partitions Fixed installations (plumbing, electrical systems)
Seasonal decorations Built-in cabinets and shelves
Vehicles (in parking structures) Structural beams and columns
Temporary storage Staircases and elevators

The Bottom Line

Understanding and accurately calculating dead loads is an important aspect of building safe and stable structures, particularly in mezzanine construction. At Allied Modular, we take pride in our expertise and precision in load calculations, which ensures that our mezzanines meet the highest standards of safety and reliability.

Considering a mezzanine project? Contact Allied Modular for expert advice and get a free quote on a customized solution.

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