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volume change response of precast concrete buildings

volume change response of precast concrete buildings

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Fall 2009
PCI Journal
Editor’s quick points
Precast concrete buildings usually perorm satisactorily i
PCI Design Handbook: Precast and Prestressed Concrete 
methodsare used to design or volume-change eects, but misconcep-tions still exist about their perormance.
This research was unded by PCI and Wiss, Janney, ElstnerAssociates Inc. to gain a better understanding o the volume-change response o actual precast concrete buildings and tocompare measured perormance with analytical modelsandprovide calibration i needed. The ull research report is avail-able rom PCI.
Another objective o this research is to recommend reviseddesign procedures that account or fexible connections.
Volume-changeresponseof precastconcretebuildings
Gary J. Kleinand Richard E. Lindenberg
Volume-change effects are the combined result of creep,shrinkage, and temperature strains. In standard load com-binations, elastic shortening and differential settlementare included with volume-change effects. Because elasticshortening occurs before the members are connected, itdoes not affect precast concrete structures. Differentialsettlement is not addressed in this paper.Volume-change damage is second only to chloride-induced deterioration as a leading cause of problems andfailures in parking structures.
Figures 1
showexamples of volume-change distress. The expansion jointsused to alleviate volume-change restraint are frequentlythe weak point of exposed structures, especially parkingstructures. They add significantly to construction costs andfrequently fail, resulting in unintended moisture entry andrelated deterioration.Volume changes are different from other load effects.Unlike forces from gravity and wind, volume-changeforces are self-straining forces. That is, they are created asmembers deform. The fundamental demand resulting fromvolume change is a movement, not a force, but substan-tial forces can develop where volume-change movementis restrained. The American Concrete Institute’s (ACI’s)
Building Code Requirements for Reinforced Concrete (ACI 318-08) and Commentary (ACI 318R-08)
requires thatvolume-change forces be based on “realistic assessment of such effects occurring in service.” However, ACI 318 doesnot otherwise differentiate volume-change-force effectsfrom gravity loads.Procedures for determining volume-change movement andforces in precast concrete buildings have been available inthe
PCI Design Handbook: Precast and Prestressed Con-
PCI Journal
Fall 2009
Evaluate the need for and location of expansion joints.5.Determine the expansion-joint width and movement.6.Estimate equivalent volume-change strains (reduced7.by
factors that account for creep and microcrackingof precast concrete members) for analyzing volume-change forces.Estimate fixity of column bases.8.Calculate volume-change-restraint forces based on9.frame analysis or approximate methods.Proportion members based on calculated forces.10.Also, section 3.4 of the
PCI Design Handbook 
provideshelpful advice regarding connection design for volume-change effects. “Properly detailed connections can minimizethe effects of volume change strains. Connections should bedetailed so that ductile deformation of one of the elementssuch as the connecting plate or connection bolt assemblycan take place. Neglecting the effect of this connectiondeformation will produce unrealistically high computedrestraint forces and can actually have a negative effect if connections are too strong, and inhibit necessary ductility.”
for 30 years. When developed by the PCI Committeeon Design Handbook in 1977,
the methods were believedto provide realistic estimates of volume-change forces. The
PCI Design Handbook 
provides a procedure for evaluatingvolume-change movements and forces:Determine the maximum seasonal temperature change.1.Determine the annual average ambient relative humidity.2.Determine the volume-change strains caused by creep3.and shrinkage as influenced by the following:concrete type (normalweight or lightweight)
curing conditions
age at erection
volume-to-surface ratio
relative humidity
concrete strength and level of prestress
Determine the design temperature strain.4.
Figure 1.
Volume-change distress is evident at this rigid spandrel-beam connection.
Fall 2009
PCI Journal
When the
PCI Design Handbook 
methods are used, precastconcrete buildings usually perform satisfactorily. In hispaper summarizing a 1971 symposium on design for ef-fects of creep, shrinkage, and temperature, Robert Philleo
supports the notion that “it makes no difference what youdo as long as you do something.” In that sense, the
PCI Design Handbook 
procedures have been successful.Nonetheless, questions and concerns regarding volume-change response of precast concrete buildings remain, asdescribed in the following paragraphs.
Design for volume-change forces
Treating volume change as an external force can lead toirrational decisions, as described in the following scenario.Based on
PCI Design Handbook 
procedures, a designercalculates the volume-change forces using educated assump-tions about the material properties, volume-change strain,force-reduction coefficients, member sizes, and reinforce-ment ratios. According to the ACI 318 requirements, thevolume-change forces are then factored and combined withgravity loads to determine the needed reinforcement.If, for example, the bending forces in corner columns due tovolume-change effects are greater than expected, the design-er then adds longitudinal column reinforcement, or worse,increases the column size. Performance is not enhancedby this increase in strength. In fact, volume-change forceswill only increase, escalating the likelihood of wide cracks,column shear failures, connection failures, and the like.However, in practice, designers generally do not calculatevolume-change forces, even though they are included inthe basic load combinations of ACI 318 and the Struc-tural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the American Societyof Civil Engineers (ASCE)’s
Minimum Design Loadsfor Buildings and Other Structures
(ASCE/SEI 7-05)
 Rather, designers rely on rules of thumb and successfulpast practices. When volume-change forces are calculated,hand calculations and two-dimensional frame analyses aregenerally used.
Accuracy of volume-change strainsand forces
Design for volume-change effects is complicated by the ex-treme variability of concrete strain and the resulting forces.Furthermore, there are few actual data on volume-changeeffects in precast concrete buildings. Due to the wide scat-ter in material properties, thermal exposure, and structuralresponse, it is not possible to predict volume-change forceswith accuracy comparable with the prediction of gravity-load forces. At the same time, using conservative assump-tions leading to upper-bound estimates of volume-changeforce leads to highly impractical and costly designs.Iqbal
measured thermal movements in several precastconcrete parking structures.
Figure 3
, developed fromthis study, is a plot of the ratio of actual to predicted jointmovement. Although actual movements are generally lessthan predicted, the data are widely scattered. These dataconfirm the unpredictability of volume-change response.
Volume-change responseof precast concrete buildings
Developments in connection details have changed thevolume-change response of precast concrete buildings.In particular, pretopped double-tees (or wall panels) withsemiflexible flange-to-flange connections respond dif-ferently from a monolithic structure. Semiflexible flangeconnections permit small volume-change movementsthat reduce both volume-change forces and movementat expansion joints. None of the available procedures forestimating volume-change effects account for the behaviorof precast concrete structures with flexible connections.This paper summarizes the findings of the authors’ recentstudy conducted for PCI on the volume-change responseof precast concrete buildings.
This research was designed
Figure 2.
Spandrel connection distress shown by the arrow is caused by unin-tended volume-change restraint rom a grade-level barrier.

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