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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

Seismic Safety Regulations and Solutions

I have a special place in my heart for old buildings. Every college design course I took was related to new design. Concrete, steel, or wood design, the design problem was invariably part of a new building. I thought structural engineers designed new buildings. When I showed up for my first day of work wearing dress pants, a button-down shirt and a tie, I was handed a flashlight, tape measure, a clipboard and a Thomas Guide map (no Google maps back then) and sent to do as-built drawings for a concrete tilt-up that we were retrofitting.

When I was designing buildings, I created a lot of as-built drawings. Figuring out how a building was put together, what the structural system was (or wasn’t!) and designing a lateral load path in these old, and often historic buildings, was immensely satisfying. Knowing that history, it should not be surprising I have done a number of blog posts related to seismic retrofits. Soft-Story Retrofits, San Francisco’s Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance, Remembering Loma Prieta, Resilient Communities, FEMA P-807, and Home Seismic Retrofit (there are probably a couple I forgot).

This week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed new seismic safety regulations . The recommendations are to retrofit soft-story wood-framed buildings within five years and older concrete buildings within 30 years. While these are only recommendations, it is encouraging to see politicians supporting policies to promote resiliency and life safety.

In San Francisco, thousands of building owners are already required by law to seismically retrofit multi-unit (at least five) soft-story, wood-frame residential structures that have two or more stories over a “soft” or “weak” story. These buildings typically have parking or commercial space on the ground floor with two or more stories above. As a result, the first floor has far more open areas of the wall than it actually has sheathed areas, making it particularly vulnerable to collapse in an earthquake.

Soft story building damaged by an earthquake

Photo credit: J.K. Nakata and the U.S. Geological Survey

San Francisco’s ordinance affects buildings permitted for construction before Jan. 1, 1978. Mandatory seismic retrofit program notices requiring that buildings be screened were sent out in September, 2013, to more than 6,000 property owners. It is anticipated that approximately 4,000 of those buildings will be required to be retrofitted by 2020.

“When we look at the demographic of these buildings, they house approximately 110,000 San Franciscans. It’s paramount that we have housing for people after a disaster. We know we will see issues in all types of buildings, but this is an opportunity for us to be able to retrofit these buildings while keeping an estimated 1100,000 San Franciscans in their homes and, by the way of retrofit, allowing them to shelter in place after a disaster,” according to Patrick Otellini, San Francisco’s chief resilience officer and director of the city’s Earthquake Safety Implementation Program. “This exponentially kick starts the city’s recovery process.”

One solution to strengthen such buildings is the Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong Frame® special moment frame. Its patented Yield-Link™ structural fuses are designed to bear the brunt of lateral forces during an earthquake, isolating damage within the frame and keeping the structural integrity of the beams and columns intact.

Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong Frame® special moment frame

Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong Frame® special moment frame

“The structural fuses connect the beams to the columns. These fuses are designed to stretch and yield when the beam twists against the column, rather than the beam itself, and because of this the beams can be designed without bracing. This allows the Strong Frame to become a part of the wood building and perform in the way it’s supposed to,” said Steve Pryor, S.E., International Director of Building Systems at Simpson Strong-Tie. “It’s also the only commercially-available frame that bolts together and has the type of ductile capacity that can work inside of a wood-frame building.”

Installation of the Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong Frame® special moment frame

Installation of the Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong Frame® special moment frame

Another key advantage of the Simpson Strong-Tie special moment frame is no field welding is required, which eliminates the risk of fire in San Francisco’s older wood-framed buildings.

To learn more about San Francisco’s retrofit ordinance, watch a new video posted on strongtie.com/softstory. For more information about the Strong Frame special moment frame, visit strongtie.com/strongframe.

Wood Shear Wall Design Example

Two weeks ago, I had the chance to present to the Young Members Group of the Structural Engineering Association of Metro Washington on the topic of Multi-Story Light-Frame Shear Wall Design. With all of the large firms in the D.C. area, it wasn’t a big surprise to find out that only about one-third of the group had experience with light-frame shear wall design.

However, while researching civil/structural engineering programs in the Midwest and Northeast last week (for our Structural Engineering/Architecture Student Scholarship program), I was disappointed to find that only about a quarter of the top engineering programs offer a wood design course. So I thought it might be helpful to post a wood shear wall design example this week.

The example is fairly basic but includes an individual full-height and perforated shear wall analysis for the same condition. The design is based on wind loading and SPF framing, both common in the Midwest/Northeast, and is based on the provisions and terms listed in the 2008 Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic (SDPWS), available for free download here, along with the recently posted 2015 version.

Multi-Story Shear Wall Example: Wind Loads with SPF Framing

Given:SE blog 1

  • 2012 IBC & 2008 SDPWS
  • 3-Story Wood Framed Shear Wall Line
  • ASD Diaphragm Shear Forces from Wind as Shown
  • Wall and Opening Dimensions as Shown

Solution:

  1. Determine total shear force in each shear wall line.
  2. Determine the Induced Unit Shear Force, v, for use with both shear wall types and the Maximum Induced Unit Shear Force, vmax, for the perforated shear wall collectors, shear transfer, and uniform uplift. Note the following:
    1. vmax requires the determination of the Shear Capacity Adjustment Factor, CO, for the perforated shear wall.
    2. The SDPWS provides two methods for determining CO, a tabulated value or a calculated value. This example uses the more precise calculated value.
    3. The perforated method requires the collectors be designed for vmax and the bottom plate to be anchored for a uniform uplift equal to vmax (as illustrated in the following figure).

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SE blog 43. Determine the Tension, T, and Compression, C, forces in the chords (assume no contribution from dead load for this example). Note the following:

    1. Reverse wind loading will require a mirror image of the T & C forces shown in the following figure.
    2. The tension forces, T, shown in the example reflect the cumulative tension forces as they are transferred down from post-to-post, as is typical with traditional holdowns. For continuous rod systems like ATS, the incremental tension forces (resulting from the unit shear, vor vmax, at that level only) must also be determined as shown in the shear wall specification table at the end of this example.

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SE blog 5 SE blog 64. Determine sheathing material and fastening pattern based on v calculated in Step 2. The table below is based on 7/16″ wood structural panel sheathing values in SDPWS Table 4.3A.

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    1. Individual Full-Height Shear Wall:

i.     v3=227 plf: Use 7/16 OSB with a 6:12 nailing pattern which has an allowable load of 336 plf

ii.     v2=409 plf: Use 7/16 OSB with a 4:12 nailing pattern which has an allowable load of 490 plf

iii.     v1=591 plf: Use 7/16 OSB with a 3:12 nailing pattern which has an allowable load of 630 plf

B. Perforated Shear Wall (apply CO factor to allowable shear capacity):

i.     v3=227 plf: Use 7/16 OSB with a 6:12 nailing pattern which has an allowable load of 255 plf

ii.     v2=409 plf: Use 7/16 OSB with a 3:12 nailing pattern which has an allowable load of 479 plf

iii.     v1=591 plf: Use 7/16 OSB on both sides of the wall with a 4:12 nailing pattern which has an allowable load of 338*2=676 plf

5. Size the posts for compression. Simpson provides some useful tables in the back of the connector catalog with allowable tension and compression loads for a variety of sizes, heights, and species of posts.

6. Select holdowns for the tensions loads and verify post sizes are sufficient. For higher aspect ratio shear walls, the post size and holdown type may significantly reduce the moment arm between center of tension and center of compression, resulting in higher tension and compression forces.

The tables below show the shear wall specification for the walls in the example in a typical format. Note that they do not include some detailing that is required for items such as the uniform uplift force on the bottom plate of all perforated shear walls, or the perforated shear walls with OSB sheathing on both sides.

SE blog 8

There are different ways to address the loads, so let us know if you would do anything differently in your designs.

Changes to 2012 IBC for Wind Design

The Greek philosopher Heraclitusis credited with saying “The only thing that is constant is change.”

If that applies to building codes, then it applies doubly to wind design using the 2012 International Building Code® (IBC).

The wind load requirements in Section 1609 of the IBC are based on ASCE 7 and refer to this document for most design information. In the 2012 IBC, the referenced version of ASCE 7 changed from the 2005 edition to the 2010 edition. In ASCE 7-10, the wind design requirements have been completely revised, including a complete design philosophy change.

SE blog 1

Wind design has changed from an allowable strength-based philosophy with a load factor of 1 in the ASD load combination to an ultimate strength design philosophy with a load factor of 1 in the strength design load combination. This means wind design has a similar basis as seismic design. So the new load combinations for wind look like this:

Strength Design: 0.9D + 1.0W
Allowable Stress Design: 0.6D + 0.6W

Because of the change in load factor and philosophy, the basic wind speed map had to be altered. In the past, one map was provided and the design return period was increased for certain occupancies by multiplying the load by an importance factor. In ASCE 7-10 there are three maps provided so now an importance factor is no longer needed. The return period of the map depends on the risk to human life, health and welfare that would result from the failure of that type of building. This was previously called the Occupancy Category, but it is now called the Risk Category.

Risk Category III and IV buildings use a basic wind speed map based on a 1,700-year return period. Risk Category II buildings use a basic wind speed map based on a 700-year return period. And Risk Category I buildings use a basic wind speed map based on a 300-year return period. Because of the higher return period, the mapped design wind speed will be much higher than when using previous maps. However, with the lower load factors, actual design loads will be the same or in many areas lower due to other changes in the way the map was developed.

wind map

Excerpted from the 2015 International Residential Code; Copyright 2014. Washington D.C.: International Code Council. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. www.iccsafe.org

SE blog 3

Another change to ASCE 7-10 for wind design is that Exposure D is no longer excluded from hurricane prone regions; so buildings exposed to large bodies of water in hurricane prone regions will have to be designed for Exposure D.

Because of the change in wind speeds, there is a change in the definitions of windborne debris regions. Due to the different wind speed design maps, the windborne debris region will be different depending on the Risk Category of the building being built. The windborne debris region is now defined as areas within hurricane-prone regions that are either within 1 mile of the coastal mean high water line where the ultimate design wind speed is 130 mph or greater; or any areas where the ultimate design wind speed is 140 mph or greater; or Hawaii. Risk Category II buildings and structures and Risk Category III buildings and structures (except health care facilities), use the 700-year Risk Category II map to define wind speeds for the purpose of determining windborne debris regions. Risk Category IV buildings and structures and Risk Category III health care facilities use the 1700-year return Category III/IV wind speed map to define wind speeds for the purpose of determining windborne debris regions.

Finally, a new simplified method for determining wind loading on ENCLOSED SIMPLE DIAPHRAGM BUILDINGS WITH h ≤ 160 ft has been added to ASCE 7-10. This is different from the simplified all heights method in the IBC, so it will be interesting to see which method becomes more widely used. Which method do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

Remembering Barclay Simpson

On Saturday evening, Barclay Simpson passed away peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his family. He was 93 years old. With Barc’s passing, Simpson Strong-Tie has lost a beloved and inspirational leader. Our country has lost a generous philanthropist, visionary and great American entrepreneur. Those of us who were fortunate enough to know and work with Barc have lost a dear friend, champion and guide.

Barc’s contributions to the construction industry, non-profit community and our employees are immeasurable. He instilled the core values — our “Secret Sauce” — that have made Simpson Strong-Tie a unique and inspiring place to work and have built our reputation as a quality, trusted manufacturer and solid corporate citizen.

Barclay Simpson

The first time I met Barc was less than a week after I started working in the R&D department. I was meeting with a product manager and Barc was walking by, so he stopped in to say hello. We introduced ourselves and chatted for a few minutes. I told him about my work experience, where I went to school, what I was working on, and he even asked where I grew up. He was genuinely interested in getting to know me, which made me feel welcome.

I later noticed that Barc usually parked at the end of the building furthest from his office. He would take a different path through the building – sometimes through engineering, other times he would walk through marketing, accounting, or even the connector test lab. Barc cared deeply for all of his employees, and the intentionally long walk gave him the opportunity to talk with folks.

He firmly believed that everybody in the company is important, and he took every opportunity to remind us. In the video, Barclay Simpson’s Nine Principles of Doing Business, Barc speaks quite passionately about dignifying the contribution of every individual at every level.

In the end of a previous blog post, I mentioned Barc’s 1974 list of Rambling Thoughts on Making One’s Fleeting Moment on This Planet a Pleasant One. In the context of that post, the thoughts of “Attitude Conquers All” and “Keep it light. It really isn’t that important” were appropriate.

Thinking of Barc and his legacy, I prefer this rambling thought from his list:

Strive to have a POSITIVE EFFECT upon those lives touched by your own.

Innovative Screws Are Replacing Bolts

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 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.

In the past several years, there has been an increase in the use of screws in applications that have traditionally been reserved for bolts and lag screws. Greater innovation in the wood screw market has caused this shift. Proprietary wood screws now offer many more benefits than commodity bolts and lag screws. Today, this post will discuss some of those benefits.

Two of the obvious drawbacks of installing bolts are preboring or predrilling a hole through the wood and ensuring that both sides of the connection are accessible. The drilled hole must be aligned properly in the wood, which is especially important for groups of bolts. When bolting a steel connector on each side of the wood, it takes a skilled hand to guide the drill from one side and hit the steel hole on the other side of the wood. Using proprietary wood screws instead of bolts can relieve the installer of this hassle. Because there is no predrilling, an installer can step up and drive in the screw. They don’t have to worry about lining up the drilled hole with the steel hole because the screws are driven into the connector on each side. This is a real benefit in many applications, such as installing ledgers and steel column cap connectors. Bolts also require washers between the head and the wood and between the nut and the wood. In an all-wood connection, the bolted connection requires a bolt, nut, and two washers or steel plates. Sometimes access from both sides is not possible or is not safe from the drilling position. Usually both the nut and the head of the bolt require a tool to tighten them, and that means using both hands where one may be blind. Proprietary wood screws are typically much faster to install and thus can reduce labor costs for the project.

Proprietary screws also are used as alternatives to lag screws in wood construction. Lag screw installation is included in the NDS, section 11.1.4. Lag screws greater than 3/8-in. diameter require a pre-drilled hole whether loaded in withdrawal or by lateral force. The required hole is a two-step hole. The hole for the shank is supposed to match the diameter and length of the shank and the part of the hole for the threaded shank depends on the specific gravity of the wood member and the relative diameter of the screw.

When comparing proprietary wood screws and commodity wood screws, it’s important to note that in the NDS, commodity wood screws have predrilling requirements that depend on the specific gravity of the wood. An installer cannot just grab a screw and drive it in. In some cases, there are two different diameters that must be predrilled, one for the shank and one for the threads, similar to lag screws.

When our engineers design a Simpson Strong-Tie screw, they go to great lengths so that the installer almost never has to predrill the wood. This is achieved by adding special drill tips, optimizing thread designs, and utilizing knurls or reamers that prepare the wood to receive the shank of the screw. For structural screws that require evaluation reports, qualification testing is performed with no predrilled holes so that the qualified loads are based on the installation instructions that require no predrilled holes.

The other factor our engineering team considers is the performance of screws in wood. Often, using a greater number of screws in place of larger diameter bolts or lag screws can increase the ductility of the failure mode, which is advantageous in certain applications, such as for seismic holdowns. The special features and manufacturing processes of proprietary wood screws can often result in allowable loads that are comparable to larger diameter bolts. These loads are typically determined through the testing and load rating requirements of ICC-ES AC 233.

As more types of screws are developed and more conditions are tested, proprietary screws will continue to replace bolts and lag screws in applications, including ledger connections, pile construction, girder truss and beam connections, steel connector installations, and many more.

Have you made the switch from commodity bolts and lag screws to proprietary wood screws?  Let us know how you are using them or tell us how we can support a new application in your market.

Truss-to-Truss and Truss-to-Everything Else Connections

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is “Who is responsible for the truss-to-(fill in the blank) connection? One such example is the truss-to-wall connection. To answer this question, it helps to recognize there are two types of connections: a truss-to-truss connection and a “truss-to-everything-else-except-a-truss” connection. The Truss Designer is responsible for the former, and the Building Designer is responsible for the latter. Pretty simple, right?  So why all the questions?

Excerpt from ANSI/TPI 1-2007 Chapter 2 on Design Responsibilities

Excerpt from ANSI/TPI 1-2007 Chapter 2 on Design Responsibilities

Some people incorrectly assume the Truss Designer is responsible for connecting the truss to everything the truss touches. Then, when the Truss Designer doesn’t specify a connection to something the truss touches (such as a wall), it prompts the question, “Hey, who is responsible for that connection? I thought the Truss Designer was!” In other cases, the person asking the question is actually challenging the answer, such as “Shouldn’t the Truss Designer be specifying the truss-to-wall connection? Why don’t they?” And finally, the question may be prompted at times when the project doesn’t have a Project Engineer (aka the Building Designer), so the question becomes, “Now who is going to specify that connection? It must be the Truss Designer, right?”

But the Truss Designer isn’t responsible for the truss-to-wall connection – and here’s why. Unless the scope of work has been expanded by contract, the Truss Designer is responsible for designing an individual component. The truss gets designed for a given set of specified loads, environmental conditions, serviceability criteria and support locations, all which are specified by the person responsible for the overall building: the Building Designer. Once designed, the truss will have a maximum download reaction and uplift reaction (if applicable) at each support location. Is that enough information to specify a truss-to-wall connection? No, it is not. First, the Truss Designer may not know what the truss is even sitting on; he or she may only know that the bearing is SPF material and 3 ½” wide. Is it a single top plate or double top plate? Is there a stud below the truss that can be connected to, or is the stud offset? Or, is the truss sitting on a header spanning across a wide window?

Sample Truss Reactions

Sample Truss Reactions

Second, even if the Truss Designer had all of the information regarding the bearing conditions, there is another problem. The Truss Designer has the reactions resulting from the loads applied to the truss. What about the reaction at the top of the wall (perpendicular to the wall) resulting from the lateral loads applied to that wall? And the shear loads acting parallel to the wall as a result of lateral loads applied to the end wall? These loads also need to be resisted by the truss-to-wall connection (hence, the F1 and F2 allowable loads that are published for hurricane ties), so the Truss Designer cannot select an adequate truss-to-wall connection based on the truss reactions alone.

Truss-to-Top Plate and Truss-to-Stud Connections

Truss-to-Top Plate and Truss-to-Stud Connections

Finally, there’s one more scenario to consider. Say a Building Department requires that truss-to-wall connections must be specified by the Truss Designer on projects that have no Engineer of Record. It wants to ensure trusses are adequately secured to the walls, and the Truss Designer may seem best equipped to determine those connections (this has actually happened in some places). The Truss Designer can find out what exactly the truss is sitting on, and can even calculate some approximate reactions for the top of the wall to conservatively take into account during the selection of the connection. Problem solved? Not entirely. That takes care of the top of the wall, but the load doesn’t stop there. So requiring the Truss Designer to specify the truss-to-wall connection only transfers the problem to the bottom of the wall. Who is going to address those connections?

Continuous Load Path

Continuous Load Path

While most people don’t think of the Truss Designer as being the person responsible for the connections at the bottom of the wall, many do think the Truss Designer should be responsible for the connections at the top of the wall. But because someone – namely, the Building Designer – still needs to ensure that a continuous load path has been satisfied by the connections in the building, does it really help to increase the scope of work of the Truss Designer to specify the truss-to-wall connection?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

How to Specify a Custom Hanger

As an engineer, it makes things easy when the buildings being designed are rectangular. This tends to make the connections occur between nice perpendicular members, and standard connectors and joist hangers can be used.

But buildings are not always rectangular and connections are not always between perpendicular members. Non-perpendicular members can have a skewed connection, where the supported member is moved side to side from perpendicular; or a sloped connection, where the supported member slopes up or down from a standard horizontal orientation; or a combination of the two.

To help with these situations, Simpson Strong-Tie offers a couple of options. The option chosen may depend on the timeframe in which the hanger is needed, the load demands on the hanger or the cost of the hanger.

If the demand load is low and an immediate solution is desired, Simpson Strong-Tie offers several adjustable hangers that can be skewed, sloped or both in the field.

LSU adjustable joist hanger

LSU adjustable joist hanger

A common adjustable joist hanger is the LSU/LSSU series, which can be sloped up or down and skewed right or left up to 45 degrees.

Remember that these hangers must be installed to the carried member prior to installation of the supported joist.

Other series of hangers are only adjustable for skew or slope.  For example, the THASR/L series is designed to accommodate connections skewed from 22½ to 75 degrees. Conversely, the new LRU ridge hanger is designed to support rafters at ridge beams with roof slopes of 0:12 to 14:12. Finally, the SUR/SUL/HSUR/HSUL series is not adjustable, but is manufactured with a skew of 45 degrees either right or left in several sizes.

THASL hanger

THASL hanger

LRU ridge connector

LRU ridge connector

HSUR hanger

HSUR hanger

If none of these pre-manufactured solutions fits your specific need, there are still options. This entails a custom-manufactured hanger. Many, but not all, joist hangers can be custom-made for specific slopes, skews, combinations of slopes and skews, and even alternate widths and alternate top flange configurations.

If this type of hanger is needed, a good place to start is the Hanger Options Matrix at the back of the Simpson Strong-Tie® Wood Construction Connectors Catalog. It is also available at strongtie.com.  An excerpt is shown below. This chart identifies which hangers can be modified, how they can be modified and to what extent they can be modified. There are two tables – one for top flange hangers and one for face mount hangers.

The Hanger Options Matrix is available in Simpson Strong-Tie(R) Wood Construction Connectors Catalog or at strongtie.com

The Hanger Options Matrix is available in Simpson Strong-Tie(R) Wood Construction Connectors Catalog or at strongtie.com

Once the user has found a hanger that can be modified to fit the actual situation, the next step is to calculate any load reductions, if applicable. The column at the far right gives the Wood Construction Connectors Catalog page number that lists any load reductions for the various options. If multiple options with reductions are specified, only the most restrictive load reduction needs to be applied, not all the reductions.

As an example, let’s say we need to hang a heavily loaded double LVL hip member from the end of an LVL ridge beam. We would look at a GLTV top flange hanger, skewed 45 degrees to the right, sloped down 45 degrees, with its top flange offset to the left. We see from the table above that all these options are permitted. If we go to page 220 (or strongtie.com), we can see what the load reductions would be for these options. The reductions are as follows:

  1. Sloped and skewed configuration for the GLTV has a maximum down load of 5,500 pounds.
  2. Offset top flange for the GLTV requires a reduction factor of 0.50 of the table roof load.
  3. BUT, skewed and offset top flange hangers have a maximum allowable load of 3,500 pounds.
  4. Offset top flange results in zero uplift load.

So the allowable load of our skewed, sloped, offset top flange GLTV would be 3,500 pounds downward and 0 pounds uplift. In this case, it was clear what the reduction was for our combination of modifications. If it is not listed specifically and you have multiple modifications with multiple reduction factors, use only the factor that results in the biggest reduction, not all of the listed reduction factors.

The next thing to do is to call out the desired hanger properly so that Simpson Strong-Tie can manufacture it to your needs. This is typically done by taking the regular product name, adding an X, and then calling out the modifications individually at the end.

For our hanger, assuming the hip is 3-1/2″ by 11-7/8″, the standard hanger would be a GLTV3.511, and the modified hanger would be called out as a GLTV3.511X, Skew R 45, Slope D 45, TF offset L.

There is one final consideration when hangers are both sloped and skewed. In this case, the top of the supported member (joist) will not be horizontal when it is cut, one side will be higher than the other. The user must decide and specify where he or she wants the upper side of the joist to fall. There are three options: high-side flush, center flush or low-side flush. We see that often users will want to specify high-side flush so that the joist ends up flush with the top of the supporting member, but that would be up to the user. This specification is added to the end of the callout name listed above. These cases are illustrated below.

A related matter occurs when the top flange of a hanger is sloped up or down. In this case the user also has to specify whether the joist is to be low-side flush, center flush, or high-side flush. But, in this case, the side is in reference to the top flange, not the joist. Specifying low-side flush will result in the top of the joist being flush with the lower side of the sloped top flange, not the low side of the joist.

If all of this seems confusing and somewhat difficult, it can be. Fortunately, Simpson Strong-Tie has developed a new web application – the Joist Hanger Selector – which automates this entire process. This app is located on strongtie.com/software.

Once you agree to the terms and conditions, choose the type of hanger you want to specify, then select the types of members being connected. This is what it would look like for our example.

jhs-input

 

This is where the user specifies any modifications required. Required loads can also be entered at this point. This is what it would look like for our example.

jhs-input2

Then, just click “CALCULATE” and the possible options will be shown. And here we see our GLTV3.511X, SK R 45, SL DN 45, TF Offset L, with a load of 3,500 pounds, just as we thought! I love it when a plan comes together.

jhs-input3

Hopefully, this web app will help you specify custom hangers with ease. Are there any other applications we could develop that would make specifying connectors easier? Let us know.

Upcoming events

The 22nd International Specialty Conference on Cold-Formed Steel Structures is coming up Nov. 5-6 at the Hilton Ballpark Hotel in St. Louis, MO. It is sponsored by the Wei-Wen Yu Center for Cold-Formed Steel Structures at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

A biannual event, this conference brings together leading scientists, researchers, educators and engineers in the field of research and design of cold-formed steel structures to discuss recent research findings and design considerations. This year’s conference features 12 technical sessions covering a wide variety of topics. For more details, visit the conference website.

Code Reports for New Specialty Cast-In-Place Inserts

This week’s blog post was written by Ryan Vuletic, Manager of Engineering/R&D for Anchor Systems. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie in 2001, he was a structural engineering consultant on projects such as state highways and bridges, Las Vegas hotels and casinos, Disney entertainment buildings and military facilities. Ryan received his B.S. in civil engineering from the University of California Irvine and MBA from the University of Southern California. He is a registered professional engineer in California.

Over the last decade, special types of cast-in-place inserts such as the Simpson Strong-Tie® Blue Banger Hanger® threaded insert have become very popular for anchoring suspended mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment, piping and conduit.These types of anchors are quickly fastened to wood formwork, or through corrugated metal deck before concrete is poured.

Blue Banger Hanger® Metal Deck Insert (BBMD)

Blue Banger Hanger® Metal Deck Insert (BBMD)

Blue Banger Hanger® Wood Form Insert (BBWF)

Blue Banger Hanger® Wood Form Insert (BBWF)



Up until now, design engineers who wanted to specify these anchors had to address the question of code-compliance since these anchors are not specifically included within ACI 318 Appendix D or the International Building Code (IBC).

This issue has now been resolved through the code report process. On October 1, 2014, Simpson Strong-Tie received the first code report (ICC-ES ESR-3707) for this type of anchor under ICC-ES AC 446. The code report:

  • Covers all sizes of the Blue Banger Hanger Wood Form Inserts (BBWF) and Metal Deck Inserts (BBMD)
  • Addresses both cracked and uncracked normal-weight concrete and sand-lightweight concrete
  • Addresses static, wind and seismic loads

AC 446 (Acceptance Criteria for Headed Cast-In Specialty Inserts in Concrete) is a relatively new approval criteria that was developed by Simpson Strong-Tie and several other anchor manufacturers. It was adopted by ICC Evaluation Service in June 2013. Anchors that are approved under these criteria will utilize ACI 318 Appendix D and are deemed to conform to Sections 1908 and 1909 of the 2012 IBC.

Testing in accordance with AC446 establishes the strength of headed cast-in specialty inserts based on the strength design provisions of ACI 318. Although the shear testing requirements of this criteria are similar to those found in AC 193/ACI 355.2, the tension tests required are performed in a unique manner. The tension tests and the seismic tension tests are conducted in a steel jig.

The tests are conducted in this fashion to validate that the specialty insert has a strength that exceeds the calculated concrete breakout strength when f’c is set at 10,000 psi (maximum compressive strength permitted per ACI 318). The test program determines the following parameters for the specialty insert:

  • Nominal tension strength
  • Nominal seismic tension strength
  • Nominal steel shear strength
  • Nominal steel shear strength for seismic loading
  • Nominal steel shear strength in the soffit of concrete on metal deck
  • Nominal steel shear strength for seismic loading in the soffit of concrete on metal deck

This new qualification procedure and code report will give designers increased confidence that they can now properly design and specify the Simpson Strong-Tie Blue Banger Hanger and comply with the requirements of the 2012 IBC. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

The Importance of Resilient Communities During Earthquakes

Imagine that it’s 4:30 a.m. and suddenly you’re awakened by strong shaking in your home. Half asleep, you hang on to your bed hoping that the shaking will stop soon. All of a sudden, the floor gives away and you fall. You think, “What just happened? How could this have possibly occurred? Am I alive?”

These could have been the thoughts of Southern California residents living in one of the many apartment buildings, which collapsed on January 17, 1994, during a 6.7 magnitude earthquake. The Northridge Earthquake brought awareness to buildings in our communities with a structural weakness known as a soft story, a condition that exists where a lower level of a multi-story structure has 20% or less strength than the floor above it. This condition is prevalent in buildings with tuck-under parking and is found in multistory structures throughout San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities (see Figure 1). These structures are highly susceptible to major damage or collapse during a large seismic event (see Figure 2).

Soft Story building

Figure 1: Multi-unit wood-frame building with first weak story.

Aftermath of an earthquake

Figure 2: Collapsed soft story tuck under parking building. Image courtesy of LA Times

Soft story retrofits help to strengthen our communities and make them more resilient to major disasters. There are several resources available to structural engineers that need to retrofit weak-story buildings. Some of these resources are mentioned in our September 18 blog post.

During the 2014 SEAOC Convention held in Indian Wells on September 10-13, speakers discussed different methods, analysis and research that address the behavior of various materials and construction types during seismic events along with approaches to retrofit historically poor performing structures. This information can be viewed from the convention’s proceedings available at www.seaoc.org.

On October 20, 2014, the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) will be hosting their 4th annual Strengthening Our Cities BAR Summit in downtown Los Angeles. This event brings together many different stakeholders in our built environment, including public officials, building owners and managers, business owners, insurance industry representatives, emergency managers and first responders, and design professionals.

Many prestigious thought leaders, including USGS Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones will be speaking at the summit, discussing such topics as tools and analysis methods for retrofitting vulnerable buildings and the Building Occupancy Resumption Program (BORP).

Expect a great day full of useful information about ways to strengthen our communities and prepare for major earthquakes as well as opportunities to network with like-minded peers. For additional information and to register, visit www.barsummit.org. We also hope you’ll visit our booth. We look forward to speaking with you there.