Welcome to our Structural Engineering Blog! I’m Paul McEntee, Engineering R&D Manager at Simpson Strong-Tie. We’ll cover a variety of structural engineering topics here that I hope interest you and help with your projects and work. Social media is “uncharted territory” for a lot of us (me included!), but we here at Simpson Strong-Tie think this is a good way to connect and even start useful discussions among our peers in a way that’s easy to use and doesn’t take up too much of your time. Continue reading
While 54 inches is a good height and will get you on most amusement park rides, what about this dimension for the width of a footing? We did some tests recently — actually a lot of tests — that answered that question.
Steel Strong-Wall® narrow panels are great for resisting high seismic or wind loads, but due to their narrow widths, their resulting anchor uplift forces can be rather hefty, requiring very large pad footings. How large? For Seismic Design Categories C-F, the largest cracked concrete solution per ACI318-11 Appendix D has a width of 54 inches and an effective embedment depth of 18 inches in order to ensure the anchor remains ductile. The overall length of this footing, as seen in Figure 1, can be up to 132 inches. While purely code driven, these solutions have historically presented challenges in the field. Most concrete contractors have to dig footings this size by hand. This often leads to discussions with their engineers about finding a better solution.
Simpson Strong-Tie has been studying cast-in-place anchorage extensively in recent years. Our research has been featured in a couple of blog posts: The Anchorage to Concrete Challenge – How Do You Meet It? and Podium Anchorage – Structure Magazine. Concrete podium slab anchorage was a multi-year test program that started with grant funding from the Structural Engineers Associations of Northern California for initial concept testing at Scientific Construction Laboratories Inc. and wrapped up with full-scale detailed testing completed at the Simpson Strong-Tie Tye Gilb Laboratory in Stockton, California. This joint venture studied the performance of anchorage reinforcement into thin podium deck slabs (10-14 inch) to resist the high overturning forces of continuous rod systems on 4-5-story mid-rise construction. The testing confirmed the need to comply with Appendix D requirements to prevent plastic hinging at anchor locations. Be on the lookout for an SE Blog post on that topic in the near future. Armed with what we learned, we decided to develop tested anchor reinforcing solutions for the Steel Strong-Wall.
The newly developed anchor reinforcement solutions for grade beams are calculated in accordance with ACI318 Appendix D and tested to validate performance. Anchor reinforcement isn’t a new concept, as it’s been in ACI318 for some time. Essentially, anchor reinforcements transfer load from the anchor bolt to the reinforcing, which restrains the breakout cone from occurring. For the new grade beam details, the additional ties near the anchor are designed to resist the load from the anchor and are developed into the grade beam. The new details offer solutions with widths as narrow as 18 inches when anchor reinforcement is used.
Two details have been developed: one for the larger panels (SSW18, SSW21, SSW24) as shown in Detail 1/SSW1.1, and one for the smaller panels (SSW12, SSW15) as shown in Detail 2/SSW1.1. The difference between the two is the number of anchor reinforcement ties specified in Detail 3/SSW1.1. For SSW18, SSW21 and SSW24 panels (Detail 1/SSW1.1), the total number of reinforcement per anchor is specified. Due to their smaller sizes, the anchor reinforcement ties specified in Detail 2/SSW1.1 for the SSW12 and SSW15 panels are the total required per panel.
From the concrete podium deck anchorage test program, we discovered that the flexural and shear capacity of the slab is critical to anchor performance and must be designed to exceed the demands created by the attached structure. For grade beams, this also holds true. In wind-load applications, this demand includes the factored demand from the Steel Strong-Wall. In seismic applications, our testing and analysis showed that achieving the anchor performance expected by Appendix D design methodologies requires the concrete member design strength to resist the amplified anchor design demand from Appendix D Section D.188.8.131.52.
Validation testing was conducted to evaluate this concept. The test program consisted of a number of specimens with different configurations, including:
- Closed tie anchor reinforcement
- Non-closed tie u-stirrup anchor reinforcement
- Control specimen without anchor reinforcement
Flexural and shear reinforcement were designed to resist Appendix D amplified anchorage forces and were compared to test beams designed for non-amplified strength level forces. The results of the testing are shown in Figure 2. In the higher Seismic Design Categories (C-F), the anchor assembly must be designed to satisfy Section D.184.108.40.206 in ACI318-11 Appendix D. In accordance with D.220.127.116.11 (a), the concrete breakout strength needs to be greater than 1.2 times the nominal steel strength of the anchor, 1.2NSA. This requires a concrete breakout strength of 87 kips for a Steel Strong-Wall that uses a 1-inch high-strength anchor.
Grade beams without the anchor reinforcement detail and with flexural and shear reinforcement designed to the Appendix D amplified anchorage forces performed similar to those with closed-tie anchor reinforcement and flexural and shear reinforcements designed to the non-amplified strength level forces. Both, however, came up short of the necessary forces required by Section D.18.104.22.168 (a). From Test V852, we discovered that even though the flexural and shear reinforcement were designed with the amplified forces, the non-closed tie u-stirrups did not ensure the intended performance. From observation, the u-stirrups do not provide adequate confinement of the concrete and tend to open up under loading conditions, resulting in splitting of the beam at the top as can be seen in the photo.
Tests W785 and W841 resulted in the best performance. Both test specimens contained flexural and shear reinforcement designed for the amplified forces, as well as closed-ties. Two configurations were tested to study their performance — two piece closed-tie anchor reinforcement in W785 and a single piece closed-tie anchor reinforcement in Test W841. As seen in Figure 2, their performance was very similar, and met the requirements of Section D.22.214.171.124 (a). The closed-ties helped confine the concrete near the top of the beam, allowing the assembly to reach the expected performance load (See the photo below). It’s important to indicate the following specifics in the New Grade Beam Anchor Reinforcement Details:
- Anchor Reinforcement is #4 closed-ties
- SSWAB embedment depth is 16″ +/- ½” (as shown in Detail 3/SSW1.1). This is to ensure there is enough development length of the anchor reinforcement on both sides of the theoretical breakout surface as required by ACI318-11 D.5.2.9.
- The minimum distances from the anchor bolt plate washer to top and bottom of closed tie reinforcement are 13 inches and 5 inches respectively to ensure proper development above and below the concrete breakout cone (refer to Detail 3/SSW1.1).
- The spacing between the two vertical legs of the anchor reinforcement tie must be 10 inches apart. While this may differ from your shear reinforcement elsewhere in the grade beam, it ensures the reinforcement is located close enough to the anchor and adequate development length is provided.
- Flexural reinforcement (top and bottom) and shear reinforcement (ties throughout the grade beam length) are per the designer. Simpson Strong-Tie has provided information in Detail 3/SSW1.1 for the applicable minimum LRFD Applied Design Seismic Moment (See Figure 3) to make sure the grade beam design will at least resist the applied anchor forces. Project design loads not related to the Strong-Wall panel also should be considered and could control the grade beam design.
Simpson Strong-Tie is interested in hearing your thoughts on the new details. What is your opinion? How have the new details been received on your job sites?
This week’s blog post was written by Aram Khachadourian, R&D Engineer for Fastening Systems. Since joining Simpson Strong-Tie 14 years ago, he has designed and tested holdowns, hangers, truss connectors and anchor bolts. He has drafted numerous acceptance criteria as well as quality standards. His current focus is the development, testing and code approval of structural fasteners. Prior to his work at Simpson Strong-Tie, he spent his time designing steel buildings including strip malls, wineries and airplane hangars. Aram graduated from the University of California at Davis with a Civil Engineering degree, and is a registered professional engineer in California.
As we approach the beginning of spring, homeowners across the country are starting to turn their thoughts to the backyard and making plans to add a new deck for summer enjoyment.
As a contractor, designer, or homeowner, you want to know that this new deck will have the structural integrity to stand firm for many years and remain safe for everybody who will use it. While there are many aspects to building a safe, strong deck, today we are focusing on the attachment of the deck ledger to the structure.
Prior to 2009, numerous catastrophic deck failures attributed to improper deck ledger attachments demonstrated the need for building code guidance. A calculated solution was overly conservative because the sheathing layer, typically present between the deck ledger and the structure’s band joist, was considered to be a gap in the connection. A prescriptive approach to deck ledger attachments was finally introduced in the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC). Table R502.2.2.1 provided fastener spacings for ½”-diameter lag screws and bolts. These values were based on testing conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech and Washington State University.
The tests included a variety of band joist types, with pressure-treated Hem-Fir as the deck ledger material. The deck ledger was tested at high moisture content to represent a wet, worst-case field condition. The test assembly had a load bar spanning two joists that were attached to the deck ledger with joist hangers. The ledger was attached through the sheathing to the rim board. Only the rim board was supported by the test frame. The average ultimate load was divided by a factor-of-safety of 3 and then further divided by the load duration coefficient of 1.6 to achieve an allowable load. These values were then applied to a deck live load of 40 psf plus a deck dead load of 10 psf to derive allowable fastener on-center spacings for various joist spans.
When Simpson Strong-Tie began to rate fasteners for ledger connections, we used a similar method of testing and analysis. However, we incorporated a few changes. One of the changes we implemented was a symmetric test set-up. The original test assembly had a ledger on one end of the joists and a support member as the boundary condition on the other. We put a ledger at each end of the joists so stiffness differences in the supports would not affect the test results. We also chose a larger factor-of-safety of 3.2 (instead of 3.0) to maintain consistency with calculation of fastener allowable loads in other applications. In order to provide our customers with a broader range of construction options, we tested many typical rim board and ledger materials, and we ran tests with single and double ledgers. You can see an example of a typical test set up here:
We have tested many Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Drive® fasteners for ledger applications including the SDWS Timber screw (SDWS22DB), SDWH Timber-Hex SS screw (SDWH-SS), SDWH Timber-Hex screw (SDWH19DB), and SDS Heavy-Duty Connector screw (SDS). We also have information regarding ledgers attached to studs and ledgers fastened over gypsum board. You can find all of this information in our latest fastener catalog.
One final construction tip – deck ledgers can fail due to cross-grain tension. This occurs when the joist hangers are attached to the deck ledger near the bottom of the ledger, but the fasteners holding the ledger to the building are near the top of the ledger. To prevent cross-grain tension failure, place the joist hangers so at least half of the ledger fasteners are below the joist hanger line.
Take a look through the various ledger options in our fastener catalog, and if we don’t address your condition, let us know. As always, call us in the Engineering Department if you have questions.
Please share your feedback in the comments area below.
This week’s blog post is written by Jason Oakley. Jason is a California registered professional engineer who graduated from UCSD in 1997 with a degree in Structural Engineering and earned his MBA from Cal State Fullerton in 2013. He is a field engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie who has specialized in anchor systems for more than 12 years. He also covers concrete repair and Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) systems. His territory includes Southern California, Hawaii and Guam.
This post is the second of a two-part series on the results of research on anchorage in reinforced brick. The research was done to shed light on what tensile values can be expected for adhesive anchors. In last week’s post, we covered the test set-up. This week, we’re taking a look at our results and findings.
To briefly recap the test set up, it was conducted in September 2014, at an office building in Burbank, Calif. Slated for demolition, this building provided an opportunity for Simpson Strong-Tie to install and test 1/2-inch diameter anchors using Simpson Strong-Tie® SET-XP® anchoring adhesive in both the face and end of the 8-1/2 inch wide reinforced brick wall. A 12-ton rated pull rig at the face and end of the wall was used to pull test the anchors to failure.
Table 1 shows the results for both face and end of wall anchors. Each data set was limited to testing three anchors of the same diameter and embedment depth. The coefficient of variation (COV) showed that the spread of the data was fairly narrow (11% maximum) for the face of wall anchors, but much higher for the end of wall anchors (24%). There are a couple of things worth noting here.
Anchors 4, 5 and 6 showed that reinforced brick is capable of achieving significant capacity for anchors embedded past the grouted portion of the wall to a depth of six inches. The threaded rods were a mix of F1554 Gr. 36 (newer specification) and A307 Gr. C (older specification – likely the anchors that failed at 14,000 lbs.), which might explain the observed variation in capacity for anchors 4, 5 and 6. At what point breakout would have been achieved if higher tensile strength steel had been used is unknown but it can be estimated. What is clear is a significant reduction – probably around 60% (relative to an estimated breakout capacity of around 17,000 lbs. for an anchor embedded six inches deep far away from an edge) – can be expected for near-edge conditions, despite the presence of two #4 bars running along the edge of the wall at the window. A near-edge failure is shown in Figure 6.
At a reduced embedment depth of 4-1/2 inches, Table 1 showed that anchor location (anchors 7 through 12) had little effect on performance whether anchors were installed in the middle of the brick or in the head joint mortar. The failure modes were largely a combination of breakout and pullout as shown in Figure 7 and 8.
The end of wall anchor results shown in Table 1 revealed a significant reduction in adhesive tensile capacity and greater variation (COV) relative to face of wall results. Two possible contributing factors for such a high COV could be:
1) The bond strength between the grout and surrounding brick wythes is variable, and
2) The size and quantity of the voids present in the grout is probably inconsistent along the height of the wall – some areas are better than others – leading to further variation of the test results.
Figure 9 shows evidence of a slip plane failure for anchors 1, 2 and 3. Looking at the brick top and bottom surface, referred to as the bed, a scored surface can be seen running perpendicular to the length of the brick (and hence the wall surface) as shown in Figure 10. Perhaps the intent of scores is to help improve the bond strength between the brick and mortar. But this assumed benefit is limited to the bed line. The face and side of the brick are smooth. Consequently, the bond strength between the grout and brick is low enough, combined with lack of grout confinement between the two wythes, to have an appreciable effect on the anchor ultimate tensile capacity.
To summarize, this test program discovered that the tensile performance of 1/2-inch adhesive anchors in the face of the wall can be substantial for cases where anchors are located far enough away from a free edge. Performance is similar for anchors placed in the center of the brick or in the mortar joint, suggesting it doesn’t matter where the anchors are placed on the wall (obviously this isn’t true for anchors near a free edge). Special precautions should be taken especially for anchors located near an edge where small intermittent voids may exist in the grout. Anchor installation should ensure that sufficient quantity of adhesive has been injected into the hole. Figure 11 proves that this is possible. However, screen tubes should be considered if large voids are present, although large voids are expected to be rare in reinforced brick. End of wall anchorage applications should be designed carefully especially if significant tensile capacity is a design requirement.
Determining what the allowable load should be can be a little tricky. ICC-ES AC 58, the criteria used for adhesive anchors in masonry base material, lists several safety factors depending on whether creep and/or seismic tests have been performed. Conducting creep and seismic tests on an outdated building material like reinforced brick would be difficult because replicating 60- year-old construction accurately in the laboratory will probably be difficult. Reinforced brick has been largely replaced by grout-filled CMU as the preferred masonry building material — at least in Southern California. What safety factor should be used that would permit seismic loading of anchors in a relatively antiquated building material like reinforced brick is debatable. Perhaps AC 60, the criteria used for assessing adhesive anchor performance in unreinforced masonry elements (URM), would serve as the best guide. It requires a minimum safety factor of five against failure and limits adhesive anchors to resisting earthquake loads only. But AC 60 also requires that the average ultimate load used not exceed an axial displacement of 1/8″ and limits the allowable load to no more than 1,200 lbs.
Despite the obvious structural dissimilarity between URM and reinforced brick and additional AC 60 requirements, Table 2 shows what the allowable loads would look like for the results of this test program if a safety factor of five was chosen. These loads are based on a wall of unknown material properties (compressive strength, tensile strength and bond, etc.) for a specific building, and may not apply to other reinforced brick buildings.
Many factors were not investigated in this test program, such as shear, creep, the simulated seismic test, just to name a few. While the evidence so far suggests that an adhesive anchor in reinforced brick performs similarly to grout-filled CMU, more testing would be necessary to substantiate this claim fully. What is very clear is the tensile tests performed on the 60-year-old Burbank office building showed that reinforced brick is a material capable of resisting appreciable anchorage forces. Of course, while a major effort is made by manufacturers to provide engineers with lab tested “code values” for design use, it can’t be ignored that the material properties of any structural element can be variable. Additional factors such as material deterioration, workmanship, etc., can all have an effect on anchorage capacity. This means that it’s never a bad idea to assess anchor performance through site-specific pull tests if gauging strength accurately is important to the anchor system design.
What have your experiences been with reinforced brick? Have you called for pull tests in this material? What were the results? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.
This week’s blog post is written by Jason Oakley. Jason is a California registered professional engineer who graduated from UCSD in 1997 with a degree in Structural Engineering and earned his MBA from Cal State Fullerton in 2013. He is a field engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie who has specialized in anchor systems for more than 12 years. He also covers concrete repair and Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) systems. His territory includes Southern California, Hawaii and Guam.
This post is Part I of a two-part series. In this post, we’ll cover the test set-up and next week in Part II, we’ll take a look at our results and findings.
More than half a century ago, reinforced brick was a fairly common construction material used in buildings located in Southern California and probably elsewhere in the U.S. Reinforced brick can be found in schools, universities, and office buildings that still stand today. This material should not be confused with unreinforced brick masonry (URM) that is also composed of bricks but is structurally inferior to reinforced brick. Engineers are often called to look at existing reinforced brick structures to recommend retrofit schemes that, for example, might strengthen the out-of-plane wall anchorage between the roof (or floor) and wall to improve building performance during an earthquake. Yet, limited or no information exists on the performance of adhesive anchors in this base material. This series of posts shares the results of research on anchorage in reinforced brick in hopes of shedding light on what tensile values can be expected for adhesive anchors, including any important findings encountered during installation and testing.
In September 2014, one wall of an office building in Burbank, CA, was slated for demolition. This presented an opportunity for Simpson Strong-Tie to install and test 1/2-inch diameter anchors using Simpson Strong-Tie® SET-XP® anchoring adhesive in both the face and end of the 8-1/2 inch wide reinforced brick wall. The building is shown in Figure 1 and the wall cross section is shown in Figure 2. The bricks measured 3 inches wide by 3-1/2 inches tall by 11-1/2 inches long and the drawings required that the bricks conform to ASTM C62-50, a standard that still exists today. According to the drawings, the walls were reinforced with #4 vertical bars spaced 24 inches on center. Mortar was specified as “1 part plastic cement and 3 parts sand.” The grout used to fill the 2-1/2 inch gap between the two brick wythes is identical to the mortar except “add sufficient water to pour.” The engineer’s drawings specified two #4 bars running parallel to the edge at all wall openings including windows. Although the actual material properties of the mortar, grout, brick, and bond between these components are unknown, the results and findings of this research should serve as a reasonable but rough indicator as to the material quality and workmanship of the wall. Anchor identification numbers and locations are shown in Figures 3 and 4.
While the brick base material was mostly solid, in some cases it was necessary to inject more adhesive in the hole due to the presence of small intermittent voids in the grout that were doubtlessly air pockets trapped during the grouting process. To resolve this problem, enough adhesive was injected such that excess adhesive could be observed coming out of the hole during insertion of the ½ inch diameter all-thread rod. This condition was limited to anchors located near the window edge (anchors 13, 14 and 15) and the end of wall (anchors 1, 2 and 3). The base material was solid at all other locations. No screen tubes were used for any holes.
Figure 5 shows a 12-ton rated pull rig at the face and end of the wall used to pull test the anchors to failure. The pull rig reaction bridge has a clearance of 12 inches between supports to allow breakout as a possible failure mode. Using a reaction bridge extension increases the clear span to 18 inches. ASTM 488 requires a free span clearance of four times the embedment depth. This standard was not followed because exceeding the flexural bending capacity of the wall was a concern. In most cases a minimum clear span of at least three times the anchor embedment depth was met.
With the testing parameters in place, next week I’ll share the results of the tests.
A couple of years back, I did a blog post with a video of a bowling ball exploding. It’s a fun test to show guests who visit our connector lab. Of course, we also do a joist hanger or holdown test to demonstrate a real test used to load rate our products. The problem is some of our tests just aren’t too exciting to the general population. It’s a bit anticlimactic when the wood slowly crushes or the fasteners withdraw until the test specimen just can’t take any load. But bowling balls explode, and explode fast!
In the last couple of months, our connector test lab ran a number of built-up post compression tests. We were looking for data to compare the performance of built-up posts whose members were fastened with connectors (nails, screws, or bolts) to posts that were glued together.
Our test presses have compression capacities ranging from 100 kips to 200 kips. While we have tested some really heavy connectors, most of our tests are under 50 kips ultimate load. The built-up post testing was exciting to watch as loads got as high as 180 kips and had some very dramatic failures. More fun than the bowling balls, but a little more difficult to contain the explosions.
I have no numbers to share from this testing, as design procedures exist in the code for built-up posts. A few non-technical things we learned from doing this built-up post testing include:
- Short posts can take a lot of load
- Regular wood glue requires careful application to get good bond over the full area of a board
- We haven’t mastered glue application
- Posts can explode
- Heavy steel plates go flying when posts explode
Not scientific, but fun to watch. The videos were captured on an iPhone by R&D Lab Testing Technician Steve Ziagos. Steve also blogs about Do-It-Yourself projects on our DIY Done Right blog. Enjoy the video.
This post was co-written by Simpson Engineer Randy Shackelford and AWC Engineer Phil Line.
The 2015 International Building Code references a newly updated 2015 Edition of the American Wood Council Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic standard (SDPWS). The updated SDPWS contains new provisions for design of high aspect ratio shear walls. For wood structural panels shear walls, the term high aspect ratio is considered to apply to walls with an aspect ratio greater than 2:1.
In the 2015 SDPWS, reduction factors for high aspect ratio shear walls are no longer contained in the footnotes to Table 4.3.4 (See Figure 2). Instead, these factors are included in new provisions accounting for the reduced strength and stiffness of high aspect ratio shear walls.
Deflection Compatibility – Calculation Method
New Section 126.96.36.199.1 states that “Shear distribution to individual shear walls in a shear wall line shall provide the same calculated deflection, δsw, in each shear wall.” Using this equal deflection calculation method for distribution of shear, the unit shear assigned to each shear wall within a shear wall line varies based on its stiffness relative to that of the other shear walls in the shear wall line. Thus, a shear wall having relatively low stiffness, as is the case of a high aspect ratio shear wall within a shear wall line containing a longer shear wall, is assigned a reduced unit shear (see Figure 3).
In addition, Section 188.8.131.52 contains a new aspect ratio factor, 1.25 – 0.125h/bs, that specifically accounts for the reduced unit shear capacity of high aspect ratio shear walls. The strength reduction varies linearly from 1.00 for a 2:1 aspect ratio shear wall to 0.81 for a 3.5:1 aspect ratio shear wall. Notably, this strength reduction applies for shear walls resisting either seismic forces or wind forces. For both wind and seismic, the controlling unit shear capacity is the smaller of the values from strength criteria of 184.108.40.206 or deflection compatibility criteria or 220.127.116.11.1.
Deflection Compatibility – 2bs/h Adjustment Factor Method
The 2bs/h factor, previously addressed by footnote 1 of Table 4.3.4, is now an alternative to the equal deflection calculation method of 18.104.22.168.1 and applies to shear walls resisting either wind or seismic forces. This adjustment factor method allows the designer to distribute shear in proportion to shear wall strength provided that shear walls with high aspect ratio have strength adjusted by the 2bs/h factor. The strength reduction varies linearly from 1.00 for 2:1 aspect ratio shear walls to 0.57 for 3.5:1 aspect ratio shear walls. This adjustment factor method provides roughly similar designs to the equal deflection calculation method for a shear wall line comprised of a 1:1 aspect ratio wall segment in combination with a high aspect ratio shear wall segment.
In prior editions of SDPWS, a common misunderstanding was that the 2bs/h factor represented an actual reduction in unit shear capacity for high aspect ratio shear walls as opposed to a reduction factor to account for stiffness compatibility. The actual reduction in unit shear capacity of high aspect ratio shear walls is represented by the factor, 1.25 – 0.125h/bs, as noted previously. The 2bs/h factor is the more severe of the two factors and is not applied simultaneously with the 1.25-0.125h/bs factor.
What are the major implications for design?
- For seismic design, the 2bs/h factor method continues unchanged, but is presented as an alternative to the equal deflection method in 22.214.171.124.1 for providing deflection compatibility. The equal deflection calculation method can produce both more and less efficient designs that may result from the 2bs/h factor method depending on the relative stiffness of shear walls in the wall line. For example, design unit shear for shear wall lines comprised entirely of 3.5:1 aspect ratio shear walls can be as much as 40% greater (i.e. 0.81/0.57=1.42) than prior editions if not limited by seismic drift criteria.
- For wind design, high aspect ratio shear wall factors apply for the first time. For shear walls with 3.5:1 aspect ratio, unit shear capacity is reduced to not more than 81% of that used in prior editions. The actual reduction will vary by actual method used to account for deflection compatibility.
- The equal deflection calculation method is sensitive to many factors in the shear wall deflection calculation including hold-down slip, sheathing type and nailing, and framing moisture content. The familiar 2bs/h factor method for deflection compatibility is less sensitive to factors that affect shear wall deflection calculations and in many cases will produce more efficient designs.
As the 2015 International Building Code is adopted in various jurisdictions, designers will need to be aware of these new requirements for design of high aspect ratio shear walls. The 2015 SDPWS also contains other important revisions that designers should pay attention to. The American Wood Council provides a read-only version of the standard on their website that is available free of charge.
Please contribute your thoughts to these new requirements in the comments below.
The world has seen many increasingly catastrophic natural disasters in the past decade, including Hurricane Katrina (Category 3) striking New Orleans in 2005, 2010’s 7.0 magnitude Haiti and 8.8 magnitude Chili earthquakes, the 9.0 magnitude Japan earthquake along with the Christchurch earthquake (6.3 magnitude) in 2011, the tornado outbreak in 2011 which included an EF4 striking Tuscaloosa, AL and a multiple-vortex EF5 striking Joplin, MO. We also saw Category 2 Hurricane Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record in 2012 and the EF5 tornado striking Moore, Oklahoma in 2013.
New Orleans was approximately $2 billion ahead of Nashville in real gross domestic product in 2002, but suffered an $80 billion loss due to Hurricane Katrina. With economic factors such as business interruption, business loss and population loss, New Orleans fell significantly behind Nashville by approximately $105 billion in real gross domestic product from 2005 to 2012 as shown in Figure 1.
A June 2014 article in Engineering News-Record noted, “Economists predict it will take some $35 billion and 50 to 100 years for New Zealand to recover from the February 2011 Canterbury earthquake, which killed 185 people and devastated Christchurch, the nation’s third-largest .” (See Figure 2)
In 2008, the USGS forecasted a 99% probability that a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake would occur in California. An earthquake scenario was developed for the Southern California ShakeOut explaining the effects of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Southern California caused by a rupture of the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault. The scenario was developed by Dr. Lucy Jones of the USGS and a group of more than 300 scientists. It estimated approximately 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries and $213 billion of economic losses.
The economic losses included approximately $48 billion due to shaking damage, $65 billion due to fire damage, $96 billion due to business interruption costs and $4 billion due to traffic delays.
With this kind of devastation, building owners, building occupants, builders and designers are looking to better understand the performance expected from buildings built to minimum code requirements, and what the costs are of building to the minimum or above the minimum before and after a disaster.
After an earthquake, survivors often say they thought their building was built to code and wonder why it was so damaged or had to be demolished. Many don’t realize that building to the code minimum in earthquake country means there will be significant damage to the building and that it may need to be razed, as the cost to repair is too high. Christchurch is an example of this (see Figure 3).
Another consideration of the effects of a natural disaster is the interaction with the built environment. While it would seem that each building owner is responsible for the building(s) they own, their buildings’ performance in a natural disaster can adversely affect adjacent buildings, infrastructure and citizens, thereby greatly affecting the performance and recovery of neighbors and the community overall. Additionally, since natural resources are stressed and energy costs are increasing, most communities are making efforts to reduce their use with various sustainability or green initiatives. Buildings represent a significant amount of materials and energy. It’s been said that the most “green” building is the one already built versus one having to be re-built after a significant event.
These issues have led to discussion about the “resiliency” of a community. Webster’s Dictionary defines “resiliency” as “. . .able to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens” or “. . .able to return to an original shape after being pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.”
There are tools that consumers already use to understand the quality and risk associated with a product or service, such as consumer report ratings for various products from cars to appliances, car crash test ratings and the restaurant grading system. To offer a similar information tool for buildings, a new non-profit organization called the United States Resiliency Council (USRC) was formed. The goal of the USRC is to serve as a credible unbiased tool for local governments, building owners, lenders, insurance providers and occupants by providing information on the quality and risk associated with a building after a natural disaster. Simpson Strong-Tie is a Founding Member of the USRC along with 63 other companies and organizations such as ATC, EERI, NCSEA, SEAOC.
The USRC vision is “. . .a world in which building performance in disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and blast are more widely understood” and its mission is “. . .to be the administrative vehicle for implementing rating systems for buildings subject to natural and manmade disasters, and to educate the building industry and the general public about these risks.” Keys to the consistency and credibility of their building rating system includes certifying engineers to perform ratings and requiring a technical audit of the ratings by certified reviewers.
The rating process begins with a building evaluation by a USRC certified engineer using the Tier 1 and 2 check list procedure of ASCE 41-13, “Seismic Evaluation of Existing Buildings,” which describes a three-tiered process for seismic evaluation of existing buildings to either the Life Safety or Immediate Occupancy Performance Level. Alternately, the certified engineer may use FEMA P-58, “Seismic Performance Assessment of Buildings,” which expresses analysis results in terms of deaths, dollars and down time. Then the certified engineer converts the findings from ASCE 41 or FEMA P-58 to a USRC rating. The USRC earthquake hazard rating system describes building performance using three dimensions: Safety, Repair Cost, and Time to Regain Basic Function. Within each dimension, there are five thresholds of performance, each represented by a star as shown in Figure 4.
A three star rating means loss of life is unlikely, the building repair cost will likely be less than 20% and the time to regain basic function will likely be within weeks to months. Typical buildings built to the code minimum would likely receive a three star rating.
As discussed in a previous blog post, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti formed a Seismic Safety Task Force led by Dr. Lucy Jones which developed the “Resilience by Design” report. The report contains recommended strategies to identify and seismically strengthen vulnerable existing buildings, water infrastructure and communication framework. It included a voluntary earthquake hazard building rating using the USRC system. Los Angeles plans to lead by example by having city-owned buildings rated to better understand the quality and needs of their building stock. Importantly, the report also offered incentive recommendations such as waiving permit fees and a five-year exemption from business tax for those businesses moving into retrofitted buildings to “. . .help ensure the successful implementation of the recommendations.”
The San Francisco Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety (CAPSS) Earthquake Safety Implementation Program (ESIP) listed 50 tasks to be implemented over 30 years including a Mandatory Soft-Story Retrofit Program. This program was signed into law in the spring of 2013 as we have covered in a previous blog post.
Other cities are looking into similar strengthening strategies as L.A. and S.F. Hopefully, individuals, building owners, occupants, financiers, insurance organizations, other organizations and government officials will work together to determine the vulnerabilities in their built environment and develop strategies to address them. This will better ensure that communities not only survive coming natural disasters, but also are able to recover more quickly.
What should be the measures of a resilient community? Which organizations or efforts are working to educate and improve your community resiliency? Let us know in the comments below.
I started off doing a four-part series on how connectors, fasteners, concrete anchors and cold-formed steel products are tested and load rated. I realized that holdown testing and evaluation is quite a bit different than wood connector testing, so there was an additional post on holdowns. We have done several posts on concrete anchor testing (here and here), but I realize I never did a proper post about how we test and load rate concrete products per ICC-ES AC398 and AC399.
AC398 – Cast-in-place Cold-formed Steel Connectors in Concrete for Light-frame Construction and AC399 – Cast-in-place Proprietary Bolts in concrete for Light-frame Construction are two acceptance criteria related to cast-in-place concrete products.
Cold-formed steel connectors embedded in concrete are not considered in ACI 318 Appendix D, so it was necessary to create criteria for evaluating those types of connectors. Some examples of products covered by AC398 are the MASA mudsill anchor, CBSQ post base, and the STHD holdown.
ACI 318 Appendix D addresses the design of cast-in-place anchors. However, the design methodology is limited to several standard bolt types.
There are a number of anchor bolt products that have proprietary features that fall outside the scope of ACI 318, so AC399 fills in that gap by establishing test procedures to evaluate cast-in-place specialty anchors. Simpson Strong-Tie SB and SSTB anchor bolts are two families of anchors we have tested in accordance with AC399.
SB and SSTB anchors have a sweep geometry which increases the concrete cover at the anchored end of the bolt, allowing them to achieve higher loads with a 1¾” edge distance. The SSTB is anchored with a double bend, whereas the SB utilizes a plate washer and double nut.
AC398 (concrete connectors) and AC399 (proprietary bolts) are similar in their test and evaluation methodology. AC398 addressing both tension and shear loads, whereas AC399 is limited to tension loads. Testing requires a minimum of 5 test specimens. These are the allowable load equations for AC398 and AC399:
For comparison, here is the standard AC13 allowable load equation for joist hangers:
Allowable Load = Lowest Ultimate / 3
Without getting into Greek letter overload, what are these terms doing?
Nu (or Vu) is the average maximum tested load. Calculating averages is something I actually remember from statistics class. Everything else I have to look up when we do these calculations.
(1 – K x COV) uses K as a statistical one-sided tolerance factor used to establish the 5 percent fractile value with 90% confidence. This term is to ensure that 95% of the actual tested strengths will exceed the 5% fractile value with 90% confidence. COV is the coefficient of variation, which is a measure of how variable your test results are. For the same average ultimate load, a higher COV will result in a lower allowable load.
The K value is 3.4 for the minimum required 5 tests, and it reduces as you run more tests. As K decreases, the allowable load increases. In practice, we usually run 7 to 10 tests for each installation we are evaluating.
Rd is seismic reduction factor, 1.0 for seismic design category A or B, and 0.75 for all others. This is similar to what you would do in an Appendix D anchor calculation, where anchor capacities in higher seismic regions are reduced by 0.75.
Rs and Rc are reduction factors to account for the tested steel or concrete strength being higher than specified. There are some differences in how the two acceptance criteria apply these factors, which aren’t critical to this discussion. Φ is a strength reduction factor, which varies by failure mode and construction details. Brittle steel failure, ductile steel failure, concrete failure and the presence of supplemental reinforcement.
The α factor is used to convert LRFD values to ASD values. So α = 1.0 for LRFD and α = 1.4 for seismic and 1.6 for wind. Both criteria also allow you to calculate alpha based on a weighted average of your controlling load combinations. This has never made a lot of sense to me in practice. If you are going to work through the LRFD equations to get a different alpha value, you might as well do LRFD design.
Rse is a reduction factor for cyclic loading, which is applied to proprietary anchor bolts covered under AC399, such as the SSTB or SB anchors. A comparison of static load and cyclic load is required for qualification in Seismic Design Category C through F. Unlike the cracked reduction factor, manufacturers cannot take a default reduction if they want recognition for high seismic.
Due to the differences in AC398 and AC399 products, the load tables are a little different. AC398 products end up with 4 different loads – wind cracked, wind uncracked, seismic cracked and seismic uncracked.
AC399 products are a little simpler, having just wind and seismic values to deal with.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.
“From a seismological standpoint, Northridge was not a big earthquake.” This is first sentence of the “Resilience by Design” report by L.A. Mayor’s Seismic Safety Task Force led by Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The report is the culmination of a year-long investigation into the greatest vulnerabilities of the city from a major seismological event. This 126-page report (click here to view entire report) lays out key recommendations for reducing those vulnerabilities and increasing safety while keeping these four points in mind:
- Protecting the lives of residents
- Improving the capacity of the City to respond to earthquakes
- Preparing the City to recover quickly from earthquakes
- Protecting the economy of the City and all of Southern California
The Mayoral Seismic Safety Task Force, comprised of many professionals across many areas of expertise, took on this monumental project to investigate and strategize ways to help make the city more resilient. The Resilience by Design report recommended taking actions focused on strengthening the city’s most vulnerable building stock known to have poor performance during earthquakes, improving the aging water system, and enhancing the telecommunications system in order for the city to reduce losses and to adequately respond after a major seismic event. Let’s explore these three areas:
Strengthening the Building Stock
The report identifies two types of vulnerable buildings that have either demonstrated poor performance or collapsed during previous earthquake events. These include non-ductile reinforced concrete buildings (shown in Figure 1) and soft-story buildings. The report recommends retrofitting these types of buildings.
Los Angeles has approximately 1,400 non-ductile reinforced concrete buildings and the report focuses on those constructed prior to January 1, 1980. The proposed ordinance requires that building owners of this building type submit a report within five years of the passage of the legislation with evidence that either states a retrofit has already been completed and the requirements of the ordinance have been met, or provides the structural analysis and plans for structural alteration necessary to comply with the ordinance. The building owner would then have 25 years to complete the retrofit.
Soft-story buildings have large openings at the first level, such as tuck-under parking or large retail display windows as shown in Figure 2 and are more prone to collapse, as evidenced during the Northridge Earthquake. Under this plan, building owners of this type of construction are required to submit a report within one year of passage of the legislation. This report would need to provide the structural analysis that shows the building complies with the minimum requirements of the ordinance or contain structural analysis and plans for alternation to satisfy the minimum requirements. All retrofits would be required to be completed within five years of the ordinance passage.
It’s estimated that of the city’s 29,000 buildings, 13,000 are considered soft-story buildings and will require a retrofit. Los Angeles plans to roll out this program in phases. First, sending notices to building owners with three or more stories, then to building owners and with 16 units or more and finally, to the remaining owners. This ordinance is similar to the City of San Francisco’s 2013 mandate. For more information about San Francisco’s ordinance, view our previous blog post here.
The Resilience by Design report also proposes adoption and implementation of a voluntary earthquake hazard building rating system developed by the United States Resiliency Council (USRC). This system has three rating dimensions: safety, repair and time to regain function. It assigns a rating from 1 star to 5 stars for each category. Figures 3-5 illustrate the rating for each category. Typical buildings designed and built to the current minimum building code requirements would receive a 3-star rating. It’s thought that this rating system will give the public better understanding of the risk and damage they may expect from a building,so they can make better informed decisions. Los Angeles plans to lead by example by having city-owned facilities rated to get a better understanding of the potential issues and solutions for their building stock.
Enhancing the Water and Telecommunication Systems
If you reside in Southern California, you have undoubtedly heard about the many water main breaks throughout the region. Water is a crucial component to the infrastructure of any major metropolitan area, but the findings of this report are disturbing. The Resilience by Design report focuses on several key aspects of the water system within Los Angeles. According to Dr. Lucy Jones, access to 88% of the water supply may be gone during the largest probable earthquake and may take up to six months to repair. This will make it difficult to live and to fight potential fires. The plan calls for alternative firefighting water systems, increased water storage capacity and fortifying the century-old water supply system that crosses the San Andreas fault system. The plan also proposes the enhancement of the city’s network of water pipes.
Finally, the Resilience by Design looks to strengthen the telecommunication infrastructure for the city. The report calls for improved partnerships with providers to remove barriers to bandwidths amongst the networks following a major seismic event to keep information moving. In addition, the Mayoral Seismic Safety Task Force recommends improving and protecting important communication and power lines that cross the San Andreas fault, a crucial element to ensuring the areas hardest hit still have access to the power, which is needed for the rebuilding process.
The proposed ordinance, as detailed within the report, is now in the hands of the City Council. It is expected that they will review it, make any changes they feel are necessary and vote on the mandatory retrofit program by mid-year.
As engineers, what are your thoughts to the proposed “Resilience by Design” plan?
What ideas or tools do you use to communicate to your clients the expected level of seismic performance of their building?
Should we better communicate the importance of community resiliency (we’re all in this together!) to the public? If so, how? Let us know in the comments below.
For decades, bolts were used for pile construction to ensure a structurally sound connection. While this works on paper, these types of bolted connections are not user friendly to install in the field. The more difficult the connection is to make, the more likely it won’t be done right.
Many pile connections have stringers or beams on each side of the pile. This means the predrilled hole for the bolt must be properly aligned through all of the parts. It takes considerable strength and the skill and care of a craftsman to do this properly, often from the top of a ladder. Given the large size of many piles, the installer also has to tighten the bolt while blind to the back of the assembly. It can take a few minutes per fastener to get the job done right. These conditions have created a great need in the field for a better approach.
After much design and testing, Simpson Strong-Tie has come out with a new faster and safer solution, the SDWH Timber-Hex HDG screw. The screw has a special point, so no predrilling is required. The installation of this fastener takes a matter of seconds, not minutes. This adds up to hours of saved labor costs.
More information about the SDWH Timber-Hex HDG screw can be found in the newly released flier F-F-SDWHHDG14, which is on our website.
Loads for these screws are presented two ways. First, there are individual fastener connection values based on screw length and wood side-plate thickness. Second, loads are given for entire assembly connections. These loads are based on the testing of specific fastener layouts. Our assembly testing used piles with one or two stringers attached to each side of the pile. Here is an example of a load table for stringer-to-square pile connection loads.
Connection assembly layouts are shown in the F-F-SDWHHDG14 flier for square piles, round piles, piles with continuous stringers and piles with stringers that are spliced at the pile. Here is one example below:
We are testing additional assemblies as other connections, materials and conditions are identified.
If you have a common condition that you don’t see addressed in the flier, please let us know in the comments below. You can also always call us in the Engineering Department if you have questions.