An Introduction to the Helical Wall Tie

What do you do when brickwork is in bad condition? Depending on what state the brickwork is in, a tear-down may be called for. However, often brickwork can be restored and strengthened using helical ties such as Simpson Strong-Tie® Heli-Tie™ wall ties and stitching ties. This post introduces these two types of helical ties, which might be just what you need for your next brick restoration project.

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Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Buildings: Seismic Retrofit

Unreinforced Masonry buildings in moderate to high seismic areas can be a disaster in waiting. These types of structures have little or no ductility capacity (reference the recent “Building Drift – Do You Check It?” blog post for a discussion on ductility) required for structures to prevent loss of life in a seismic event. Many of these buildings are in densely populated areas, have historical meaning, and can be costly to retrofit. Fortunately, there are tools available for engineers to assess and design the needed retrofits to mitigate the potential loss of life and increase the seismic resiliency of these buildings.

Image credit: International Code Council (ICC).
Image credit: International Code Council (ICC).

ASCE 31-03, Seismic Evaluation of Existing Buildings, and ASCE 41-06, Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings, are two reference standards that are referenced in the 2012 International Existing Building Code (IEBC). (It should be noted that both of these reference standards are currently being combined into one document – ASCE 41-13.) Although ASCE 31 and 41 provide assistance to engineers in determining minimum seismic retrofits for these brittle structures, it is recommended that design of the retrofits be performed by a qualified engineer with experience in working with these types of brittle structures.

Currently the 2012 IEBC has been adopted in 39 states in the U.S. and several other areas (see reference map below).

2012 IEBC Adoption Map. Image credit: International Code Council (ICC).
2012 IEBC Adoption Map. Image credit: International Code Council (ICC).

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Out-of-Plane Wall Anchorage Design

While the Simpson Strong-Tie Tye Gilb R&D lab in Stockton is a large testing facility, the world’s largest R&D lab is Mother Nature herself. Natural disasters such as earthquakes or storms put our engineering designs to the test. In this week’s blog post, I’ll be turning attention to wall anchorage for out-of-plane forces and the lessons we have learned from Mother Nature so far.

The 1979 building code incorporated many of the lessons learned from the 1971 San Fernando earthquake. In 1994, Mother Nature put the 1979 building code to the test with the January 17 Northridge earthquake. The Northridge earthquake showed that some of the increased design and detailing requirements in the 1979 building code worked well to improve performance over what was observed in 1971. However, it also revealed to researchers that acceleration at the roof level of single story warehouse buildings were three to four times the ground acceleration. The combination of higher than expected acceleration and excessive deformation of the wall anchorage assembly caused many wall anchorage failures.

Figure 1 Out-of-Plane Wall Anchorage Assembly

Several changes in the design forces used for wall anchorage and additional detailing requirements were incorporated in the 1997 Uniform Building Code. The requirements have been refined with each new building code, but overall the requirements and design forces have remained about the same under the current International Building Code. Wall anchorage design is governed by ASCE 7-05 and ASCE 7-10 Section 12.11. These provisions aim to mitigate the brittle wall anchorage failures observed in past earthquakes by increasing the design force and in Seismic Design Categories C through F, requiring:Continue Reading