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Old 02-15-2015, 10:07 AM   #1
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Snow load

Hello from the Boston area where we are buried under over 60 inches of snow and had another 18" fell last night.

Our AS is safely sitting on it's (outside) parking pad and we carefully winterized it last fall. But now it's sitting with a lot of snow on the roof. We have been clearing snow off the roof areas of our house, but haven't tried to clear it off the AS for fear of scratching it.

So my question is, is there some amount of snow that will cave in the AS? I'm talking snow here, not ice.

Since the AS isn't heated nothing on the roof is melting and the rounded shape is keeping some of it from sticking a little bit, but we keep getting more and more snow and this is our first winter owning it, and I'm wondering if we should try to remove some of it. Note that if I do pull it off, it will end up increasing the snow height around the sides of the AS. We already have snow chest high everywhere. . . .

On a funny note, the area under the AS is clear and the snow is so deep that it's created a closed space underneath. The neighborhood rabbits are using it as a shelter. We can see the tracks running up to the edge and then the slide that they use to get under it. I can't wait to see the "debris" in the spring!

Sally
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Old 02-15-2015, 10:43 AM   #2
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Sally,

I frankly have no idea what the snow load limit of a Airstream roof (and supporting sides) might be, but it's likely to be a pretty high number.

I offer that based on the idea that I can carefully walk my 200+ pounds across the ribs in the roof - that's a load of 100+ pounds under each foot, and am pretty sure that that number (more than 100+ pounds / square foot) is higher than the Uniform Building Code snow load load requirements in many (though not all) places.

that's not to say that an Airstream body won't flex under load. it will, because it's designed to.

that said, I'd also guess that keeping that snow load uniform across the roof by not removing just some of it would be better.

ymmv.
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Old 02-15-2015, 10:44 AM   #3
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Many will tell you not to worry but we do take our snow off the roof once it reaches about the depth you're talking about - we have never had damage to the roof caused by snow but we have had cracks in our air conditioner shroud (at the fasteners) and also the roof vents. It is very possible that the snow isn't the only culprit here - I think minus 40 temperatures can make the vents and shroud very brittle and then it doesn't take a lot of weight to crack it (I now also put on plywood covers over the vents for winter).

I take the snow off our roof with one of those pavement sealer brooms that has the broom portion mounted backwards so that it grabs the snow like a rake. I can tell you that it is a lot easier to remove fresh snow than snow that has gone through a couple of thaw/freeze/pack cycles.


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Old 02-15-2015, 11:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jm2 View Post
I offer that based on the idea that I can carefully walk my 200+ pounds across the ribs in the roof - that's a load of 100+ pounds under each foot, and am pretty sure that that number (more than 100+ pounds / square foot) is higher than the Uniform Building Code snow load load requirements in many (though not all) places.
Apples and oranges. You standing directly atop the ribs is not the same as snow loaded not only on top of the ribs but on the skin between the ribs.

Your weight may not bend the ribs, but it sure as all get-out would dent the skin if you stepped off the ribs. The skin is not supporting your weight at all, so you can't assume that the Airstream's roof will support 100+ pounds per square foot. The load on the ribs is not measured in pounds per square foot, it would be measured as pounds per linear foot of rib. Only the load on the skin is measured in pounds per square foot, and it's nowhere near as sturdy as your post makes it seem.

If it was me (and full disclosure, it's NOT me because I have an Interstate and live on the Gulf Coast) I would clear snow accumulation early and often. The buildup of snow dams at your awnings in particular can cause seams to leak in a thaw that otherwise wouldn't, just like a snow dam in your gutter at home can cause your roof to leak. Anywhere but near the awnings, the snow should slide right off as it starts to melt.
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Old 02-15-2015, 11:25 AM   #5
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Roof vents

I'm wondering, if we clear it now won't we risk cracking the vents because they are so cold and brittle? The snow pack on the grass protects it from the cold. Could it be the same for those vents - given the current situation?

There is really no way to tell where the vents are under all that snow, so that we can be careful not to hit them. The AC is a little bit of a bump, but I'm less worried about it since it has a cloth cover at least.

This amount of snow is unprecedented, even for New England.
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Old 02-15-2015, 11:36 AM   #6
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Obviously striking an AC vent, plastic skylight or vent cover when it is extremely cold could possibly crack them. Although UV exposure over time really is the major cause of deterioration of these items. In their weakened state from years of sun exposure, it doesn't take much of a blow to cause these to crack or shatter.

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Old 02-15-2015, 11:41 AM   #7
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Just curious, but how would your insurance handle snow damage to your Airstream?
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:00 PM   #8
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I wouldn't worry about it till after this round of snow is over - once you start taking it off the roof the natural progression is to take it off a bit at a time (gentle is good) starting from the sides and working towards the centre of the roof - eventually you will see or know you are close to the vents - at that point you will also recognize the need to be even more gentle in how you proceed.

The snowstorms you folks have been having all along the North East Coast and into our Atlantic Provinces this winter sure have been making the headlines - even up here - but the kind of cold you have is unlikely to create any additional problems for you - if you ever get to experience minus 40 (wind chill doesn't count) for an extended period of time you will find yourself with a whole new appreciation of what cold is all about and what it can do.

Hope your winter settles down soon.


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Old 02-15-2015, 12:10 PM   #9
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Insurance

Insurance. Good question. I'm assuming it would because we have very good insurance - the kind that gives full replacement for the first 5 years, etc. I should probably get out the policy and check that.

We did go into it about a week ago when some friends came over, to show it to them. At that point it was fine inside - no leaks, etc. Also note that this is a 2014 unit, so it hasn't had years of sun exposure to weaken the vents, etc.

We have had so much snow this year that things are happening (to our house) that we've never seen before. (Bought in '93, house built in 1910.) It's really hard to know what to do about some of this stuff.
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Old 02-15-2015, 02:58 PM   #10
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" if you ever get to experience minus 40 (wind chill doesn't count) for an extended period of time you will find yourself with a whole new appreciation of what cold is all about and what it can do"

HA! I grew up in North Dakota and remember the blizzard of '66, plus a lot of -30 / -40 temps. Which makes me really ticked off that the post office here seems to think it's too cold to deliver mail, despite us breaking our backs to shovel the walk for them! My theory is that they aren't smart enough to dress for the weather. My proof of this is that they don't seem to be smart enough to learn to read addresses either!

Seriously, google the ND blizzard of '66 if you want to really understand what a blizzard is, not these little things we have here that everyone is freaking out about. Ya, we have a lot of snow. But it's not really that cold.

Sally
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Old 02-15-2015, 03:08 PM   #11
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I don't worry about it....80" in 6 days.


When it warms up it slides right off..

12 yrs of WNY Winters, no damage, no leaks and I didn't hurt myself.

Bob
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Old 02-15-2015, 03:12 PM   #12
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Thanks! That makes me feel better!
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Old 02-15-2015, 05:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Apples and oranges. You standing directly atop the ribs is not the same as snow loaded not only on top of the ribs but on the skin between the ribs.

hmm, not apples, nor oranges; it's an Airstream.

the point, without trying to go into some long, detailed, discussion, was that the shell is marvelously strong, particularly given the weight of the component materials. it's about the strength of an assembly, not the strength of the individual parts.

for that matter, half my weight on one foot that's inside a shoe or sneaker is actually more than 315 psf, given that my size 12 shoe is only about 12" long and less than an average of 4" wide.

so, Pro, you're somewhat correct, since I understated the load by 2/3!

that shoe, in this example, is more akin to a point load. a snow load is not a point load; it's spread somewhat evenly across the roof plane.

and, the fact that no one seems to have a roof load spec in the back of their manual. nor, does one find many reports on this forum, or similar places, accounts of an Airstream crashing down under the weight of snow?

some historic comments here, http://www.airforums.com/forums/f458...html#post73224 and here, http://www.airforums.com/forums/f458...tml#post333682 from a member who might be regarded for his Airstream history, and his knowledge and expertise....

and, as I'm sure folks will have guessed, I don't brush the snow off unless we're about to tow or drive....
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Old 02-15-2015, 07:57 PM   #14
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There is a thread on here somewhere where an Airstream DID collapse under a snow load, but I think it was gutted out to the shell.

I think it was a 90s model. It was a total loss.

Last winter.


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