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# Serviceability Limits in Steel Reinforced Concrete Members

Crack Width
Cracking in reinforced concrete beams generally start at loads well below service level. As the loads increases above the cracking load, both the number and width of cracks increase, and at service load level a maximum width of crack of about 0.0016in is typical in concrete beams reinforced with Grade 60ksi (414MPa) steel (ACI 318-02 clause R10.6.4). The 1995 ACI 318 Code (Clause 10.6) specifies that to assure protection of reinforcement against corrosion, and for aesthetic reasons, many fine hairline cracks are preferable to a few wide cracks. One variable of importance affecting the width of cracks is the stress in the reinforcement at service load f s . The tensile steel stress, f s , at specified load is computed based on elastic cracked-section analysis as the unfactored moment divided by the product of steel area and internal moment arm (refer to page 4 for more details). Alternatively, and it is permitted that f s may be taken equal to 60 percent of specified yield strength ( 0.6 f y ) according to ACI 318-02 Code clause 10.6.4 and CSA A23.3-04 Clause 10.6.1. In most practical situations, this is a conservative assumption as the actual steel stress at specified load levels will be below this value. The Gergely-Lutz expression could be used in the calculation of the maximum crack width (as given in the ACI 318-95 old code):

w = Cβ f s

3

dc A

where w = the maximum crack width β = ratio of distances to the neutral axis from the extreme tension fibre to that from the centroid of the main reinforcement (= h2 h1 in Figure A). The ACI 318-95 Code allows that an approximate value of 1.2 could used for β. f s = stress in steel at specified load calculated by elastic cracked section theory (straight line theory) d c = is the distance from extreme tension fibre to the centre of the longitudinal bar located closest thereto. A = Ae n = effective tension area of concrete surrounding the main tension reinforcement and having the same centroid as that reinforcement, divided by the number of bars (shown cross-hatched in Figure A) • For a slab: A = 2d c s • For a beam with one layer of steel, all bars of equal size and a cover of 50mm or less to the main reinforcement: A = 2d b n c w • For a beam with two layers of steel: A = 2(h − d )b n = 2d b n w s w d s = distance from the extreme tension fibre t the centroid of the flexural reinforcement (note the difference between d c and d s as shown in Figure 6-12) n = number of bars, taken as total area of tension reinforcement ( AS ) divided by area of largest bar used when bars are of different sizes C = a numerical constant determined from statistical analysis of experimental data. C = 11 × 10 −6 mm 2 / N ENCI 633 Winter 2009 – Dr. R. El-Hacha Page 1 of 9

Control of the maximum crack width can be thus obtained by setting an upper limit on the parameter z. The Gergely-Lutz expression is given in another format in the 1995 ACI 318 code by the quantity z and in the CSA A23.A.3-04 Code (Clause 10. The recommendation ACI Committee 224 recommends tolerable crack widths for reinforced concrete based on the exposure condition. R. b) two layers of reinforcement The acceptable width of flexural cracks in service depends mostly on the conditions of exposure and should be established in view of possibility of corrosion of the reinforcement.1) : 3 w × 10 −3 z = fs d c A × 10 − 3 = Cβ ENCI 633 Winter 2009 – Dr. d h Ae = 2 (h .fc kd N. El-Hacha Page 2 of 9 .6.d) bw h1 h2 ds ds A = Ae / n n = number of bars dc fs / n bw Figure A: Parameters for crack width computation Figure B: Effective tension area for a reinforced concrete beam: a) one layer of reinforcement.

exp.6. limiting crack widths of 0.) ⎨25 kN/mm (ext. on the basis of experience with existing structures.33mm) For epoxy coated bars multiply “ z ” by 1. With these approximations. The Code further assumes.6.2.4mm) z = 25 kN/mm for exterior exposure (corresponding to a crack width of 0.exp. d c in mm N = number of bars effective concrete area surrounding tension bars = 2dc b dc 2dc Figure C: Crack control (CSA A23.3-04 Clause 10.1) ENCI 633 Winter 2009 – Dr.33 mm (0. β is assumed to have a value of 1.3-04 (Clause 10. 10-6) z = 30 kN/mm for interior exposure (corresponding to a crack width of 0.6 f y (MPa). −3 f s 3 d c A × 10 A = 2d c b N 2⎛ N ≥ 2bd c ⎜ ⎜ ⎝ =Z≤ ⎧ 30 kN/mm (int. El-Hacha Page 3 of 9 .2 On this basis.013 in) for interior and exterior exposure.1) in terms of the quantity “z” given below: z = fs where 3 d c A × 10 −3 (CSA A23.40 mm (0. b.3-04 Eq. R.33 for exterior exposure. the crack width limitation is specified in CSA A23.2 11 × 10 0.) ⎩ b f s × 10 Z −3 ⎞ 3 ⎟ ⎟ ⎠ f s ≈ 0. z = × 10 −3 = 25 kN/mm 11 × 10 −6 × 1. z = −6 × 1. the right hand side of the equation reduces to: 0.For general design use.016 in) and 0.40 × 10 −3 = 30 kN/mm for interior exposure. respectively.2.

6 f ). Note that factor 0. the CSA A23. In most practical situations.6. this is a conservative y assumption as the actual steel stress at specified load levels will be below this value. The calculated tensile stress in reinforcement at service (specified) load shall be computed based on elastic crackedsection analysis as the unfactored moment developed in the beam due to service load ( M ) divided by the product of the steel area and the internal moment arm (Figure D).6 has been carried forward from earlier version of A23.38 represents the average load factor ( α D + α L 2 . where 0. R. in lieu of such detailed computations. a • The force in the tension steel: T = A f s s s • Based on equilibrium of the external and internal bending moments: ⎛ ⎛ y⎞ y⎞ M = T ⎜d − ⎟ = A fs ⎜d − ⎟ ⎟ ⎟ a s⎜ s ⎜ 3⎠ 3⎠ ⎝ ⎝ where y is the neutral axis depth of the cracked section M a • The stress is steel: f s = y A ⎛d − ⎞ ⎟ ⎜ s⎝ 3⎠ Figure D: Stress and strain distribution in a cracked reinforced concrete beam at service load Alternatively.3-04 Clause 10.85 1.38 ).85 represents the resistance factor for the reinforcement and 1. ( ) ENCI 633 Winter 2009 – Dr.3 and is approximately ( 0.1 permits the use of 60% of the specified yield strength as an estimate of stress in steel under service loads ( f s = 0. El-Hacha Page 4 of 9 .Stress at Service Load Note that the crack control is checked under service loads.