Section 188.8.131.52 of ASCE 7-05 (or -10) deals with overstrength (Ωo) load combinations and allows a 1.2 increase in allowable stress when using these combinations. We received a question from a customer last week asking if the 20% increase applies to Simpson Strong-Tie connectors. The simple answer is yes. When demand loads are based on amplified seismic forces, connector allowable loads may be increased by 1.2 per Section 184.108.40.206.
Since the increase may be combined with the duration of load increases permitted in the NDS, you would apply the 1.2 increase to connector allowable loads at a load duration of 1.6, which makes the overstrength factor a little less terrible.
The question got me thinking a little more about overstrength load combinations, so I wanted to discuss what they are used for. It also made me think about a sales meeting several years ago where one of our engineers was addressing a question about an application that required a design using amplified seismic forces. A salesperson asked why the forces needed to be amplified and he said, “Well, there’s this Omega subzero factor…” Never speak in Greek letters to salespeople. They call him Omega Subzero to this day.
So why does the code have amplified forces?