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Published by: raj_ferrari on Apr 29, 2010
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How do Beam-Column Joints in RC Buildings resist Earthquakes?
Earthquake Tip 
LearningEarthquake DesignandConstruction
Why Beam-Column Joints are Special
In RC buildings, portions of
that arecommon to
at their intersections are called
beam-column joints
(Figure 1). Since their constituentmaterials have limited strengths, the joints have
limited force carrying capacity
. When forces larger than theseare applied during earthquakes, joints are severelydamaged. Repairing damaged joints is difficult, and sodamage must be avoided. Thus, beam-column jointsmust be designed to resist earthquake effects.
Earthquake Behaviour of Joints
 Under earthquake shaking, the beams adjoining a joint are subjected to moments in the same (clockwiseor counter-clockwise) direction (Figure 1). Under thesemoments, the top bars in the beam-column joint arepulled in one direction and the bottom ones in theopposite direction (Figure 2a). These forces arebalanced by bond stress developed between concreteand steel in the joint region. If the column is not wideenough or if the strength of concrete in the joint is low,there is insufficient grip of concrete on the steel bars.In such circumstances, the bar slips inside the jointregion, and beams loose their capacity to carry load.Further, under the action of the above pull-pushforces at top and bottom ends, joints undergogeometric distortion; one diagonal length of the jointelongates and the other compresses (Figure 2b). If thecolumn cross-sectional size is insufficient, the concretein the joint develops diagonal cracks.
Reinforcing the Beam-Column Joint
Diagonal cracking & crushing of concrete in jointregion should be prevented to ensure good earthquakeperformance of RC frame buildings. Using
large columnsizes
is the most effective way of achieving this. Inaddition,
closely spaced closed-loop steel ties
are requiredaround column bars (Figure 3) to hold togetherconcrete in joint region and to resist shear forces.
Intermediate column bars
also are effective in confiningthe joint concrete and resisting horizontal shear forces.Providing closed-loop ties in the joint requiressome extra effort. Indian Standard IS:13920-1993recommends continuing the transverse loops aroundthe column bars through the joint region. In practice,this is achieved by preparing the cage of thereinforcement (both
longitudinal bars
) of allbeams at a floor level to be prepared on top of thebeam formwork of that level and lowered into the cage(Figures 4a and 4b). However, this may not always bepossible particularly when the beams are long and theentire reinforcement cage becomes heavy.
Anchoring Beam Bars
The gripping of beam bars in the joint region isimproved
by using columns of reasonably largecross-sectional size. As explained in
Earthquake Tip 19
,the Indian Standard IS:13920-1993 requires buildingcolumns in seismic zones III, IV and V to be at least
wide in each direction of the cross-sectionwhen they support beams that are longer than
orwhen these columns are taller than
between floors(or beams). The American Concrete Instituterecommends a column width of at least
20 times thediameter of largest longitudinal bar used in adjoining beam
Figure 1: Beam-Column Joints are critical partsof a building
– they need to be designed 
Beam-Column Joint 
Overlap volume common to beams and columns 
Figure 2: Pull-push forces on joints cause twoproblems
 – these result in irreparable
damage in  joints under strong seismic shaking 
Gripping of bar inside oint region 
Compression Tension 
Loss of grip on beam barsin joint region:
Large column width and good concrete help in holding the beam bars 
Distortion of joint:
diagonal cracking and crushing of concrete 
Figure 3: Closed loop steel ties in beam-columnjoints
such ties with 135 
hooks resist the ill effects of distortion of joints 
Closed ties 
Beam Column 
10 times diameter of tie 135º 
Intermediate Column Bars 

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