Greenhouse Collapse!

January 31st, 2010 by david laferney Leave a reply »

If you’re thinking about building a greenhouse here’s an opportunity to learn from my misfortune.

This is bad.

hoophouse greenhouse collapse from snow load.

Only 3 inches of ice and snow did this to my hoop-house.

When I first built it, my 50 dollar green house had a design flaw to say the least.

After removing the snow from my collapse greenhouse it is almost as good as new.

Fortunately After removing the snow from my collapse greenhouse it’s almost as good as new. But, I think I can prevent this from happening again.

This isn’t a great thing to find on a winters morning, but on the other hand a minor fail like this is just the thing to help improve a design. Fortunately I got the snow off of it before any real damage was done – this time.  If I didn’t live in the (usually) sunny south it wouldn’t have taken me over a year to discover this design flaw.  So – to anyone who’s been inspired by this blog to build a greenhouse…  Sorry about that.

Here’s the thing – as long as rain or snow runs off and doesn’t accumulate which it usually doesn’t – all is well.  It’s even OK for a little bit of snow to accumulate on top, because it just falls right off of the steep sides, and no harm is done.  But once the peak starts to sag then it doesn’t run off like it needs to, and it can build up more weight making it sag even more, which allows more to collect, more weight, more sag… Until you get an ugly surprise.

So here’s what I did.  A reader recommended that I add a pvc pipe as a ridge pole on top of the ribs like this:

The greenhouse now has a ridge made of 2" pvc pipe - problem solved.

2″ ridge pipe on TOP pf ribs – fixed the problem.

Since adding the ridge the greenhouse has withstood several substantial snows with no problem whatsoever.  When I know that snow is coming I add a couple of 2×4 props under the ridge for insurance.  Problem solved.

BTW, there are many hoop houses in my area and in areas that get lots more snow that work fine and don’t collapse when it snows or when the wind blows – including a HUGE commercial operation about 10 miles away that grows hydroponic lettuce year round.  My design just needed a little refinement.

For example:

Ontario Canada

If you never fail it’s probably because you never do anything.

Ain’t gardening fun!?


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