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Thursday, March 26, 2015

functions of different components of a typical expansion joint?

What are the functions of different components of a typical expansion joint?

In a typical expansion joint, it normally contains the following components: joint sealant, joint filler, dowel bar, PVC dowel sleeve, bond breaker tape and cradle bent.




Joint sealant: it seals the joint width and prevents water and dirt from entering the joint and causing dowel bar corrosion and unexpected joint stress resulting from restrained movement.

Joint filler: it is compressible so that the joint can expand freely without constraint. Someone may doubt that even without its presence, the joint can still expand freely. In fact, its presence is necessary because it serves the purpose of space occupation such that even if dirt and rubbish are intruded in the joint, there is no space left for their accommodation.

Dowel bar: This is a major component of the joint. It serves to guide the direction of movement of concrete expansion. Therefore, incorrect direction of placement of dowel bar will induce stresses in the joint during thermal expansion. On the other hand, it links the two adjacent structures by transferring loads across the joints.

PVC dowel sleeve: It serves to facilitate the movement of dowel bar. On one side of the joint, the dowel bar is encased in concrete. On the other side, however, the PVC dowel sleeve is bonded directly to concrete so that movement of dowel bar can take place. One may notice that the detailing of normal expansion joints in Highways Standard Drawing is in such a way that part of PVC dowel sleeve is also extended to the other part of the joint where the dowel bar is directly adhered to concrete. In this case, it appears that this arrangement prevents the movement of joint. If this is the case, why should designers purposely put up such arrangement? In fact, the rationale behind this is to avoid water from getting into contact with dowel bar in case the joint sealant fails. As PVC is a flexible material, it only minutely hinders the movement of joint only under this design.

Bond breaker tape: As the majority of joint sealant is applied in liquid form during construction, the bond breaker tape helps to prevent flowing of sealant liquid inside the joint.

Cradle bar: It helps to uphold the dowel bar in position during construction.

In the design of elastomeric bearings, why are steel plates inserted inside the bearings?

In the design of elastomeric bearings, why are steel plates inserted inside the bearings?




For elastomeric bearing to function as a soft spring, the bearing should be allowed for bulging laterally and the compression stiffness can be increased by limiting the amount of lateral bulging. To increase the compression stiffness of elastomeric bearings, metal plates are inserted. After the addition of steel plates, the freedom to bulge is restricted and the deflection is reduced when compared with bearings without any steel plates under the same load. Tensile stresses are induced in these steel plates during their action in limiting the bulging of the elastomer. This in turn would limit the thickness of the steel plates.


However, the presence of metal plates does not affect the shear stiffness of the elastomeric bearings.

What are the three major types of reinforcement used in prestressing?

What are the three major types of reinforcement used in prestressing?



(i) Spalling reinforcement
Spalling stresses are established behind the loaded area of anchor blocks and this causes breaking away of surface concrete. These stresses are induced by strain incompatibility with Poisson’s effects or by the shape of stress trajectories.

(ii) Equilibrium reinforcement
Equilibrium reinforcement is required where there are several anchorages in which prestressing loads are applied sequentially.

(iii) Bursting Reinforcement
Tensile stresses are induced during prestressing operation and the maximum bursting stress occurs  where the stress trajectories are concave towards the line of action of the load. Reinforcement is needed to resist these lateral tensile forces.

Is stainless steel really stainless in construction application?

Is stainless steel really stainless in construction application?

Stainless steel refers to alloy steels with more than 10.5% of chromium and consists of several groups like austenitic, ferritic, martensitic etc. Austenitic stainless steel is normally used in structural applications because of its high corrosion resistance. Austenitic and ferritic types of stainless steel cover about 95% of stainless steel applications. Stainless steel is not stainless although it is corrosion resistant under a wide range of conditions.

A passive layer of chromium oxide is formed on stainless steel’s surface which renders it corrosion resistant. This chromium oxide layer acts as a stiff physical barrier to guard against corrosion and makes it chemically stable. Moreover, when this layer is damaged, it can perform self repairing where there is a sufficient supply of oxygen. However, stainless steel will still corrode by pitting in marine environment where chloride attack occurs. Therefore, appropriate grades and types of stainless steel have to be selected in polluted and marine environment to minimize the problem of corrosion. Reference is made to Euro
Inox and the Steel Construction Institute (2002).

Difference between epoxy grout, cement grout and cement mortar?

What is the difference between epoxy grout, cement grout and cement mortar?

* Epoxy grout consists of epoxy resin, epoxy hardener and sand/aggregates. In fact, there are various types of resin used in construction industry like epoxy, polyester, polyurethane etc.

Though epoxy grout appears to imply the presence of cement material by its name, it does not contain any cement at all. On the other hand, epoxy hardener serves to initiate the hardening process of epoxy grout. It is commonly used for repairing hairline cracks and cavities in concrete structures and can be adopted as primer or bonding agent.


*Cement grout is formed by mixing cement powder with water in which the ratio of cement of water is more or less similar to that of concrete. Setting and hardening are the important processes which affect the performance of cement grout. Moreover, the presence of excessive voids would also affect the strength, stiffness and permeability of grout. It is versatile in application of filling voids and gaps in structures.



*Cement mortar is normally a mixture of cement, water and sand. They are used as bedding for concrete kerbs in roadwork.

Which type of Reinforcement steel is more corrosion resistant?


Which type of bar reinforcement is more corrosion resistant, epoxy-coated bars, stainless steel bars or galvanized bars?



Based on the experiment conducted by the Building Research Establishment, it was shown that the corrosion resistance of galvanized steel was the worst among the three types of bar reinforcement. For galvanized steel bars, corrosion started to occur when a certain chloride content in concrete (i.e. 0.4% by cement weight) was exceeded. However, for epoxy-coated bars, they extended the time taken for cracking to occur when compared with galvanized steel bars.
The best corrosion resistant reinforcement among all is stainless steel. In particular, austenitic stainless steel stayed uncorroded even there was chloride contamination in concrete in the experiment. Reference is made to K. W. J. Treadaway (1988).

Can Grout replace concrete?

Can grout replace concrete in normal structure?

The mixture of cement and water alone cannot replace concrete (Longman Scientific and Technical (1987)) because:

(i) Shrinkage of grout is several times that of concrete with the same mass.
(ii) The effect of creep of grout is far more than that of concrete.
(iii) Heat of hydration of cement with water is more than normal concrete and this leads to the problem of severe cracking.

Can Concrete Cover be increased beyond technical specification?

Is it good if increase concrete cover beyond contractual specification (i.e. 40mm to 70mm), shall engineers accept the proposal?

In contractual aspect, based on the requirement of General Specification of Civil Engineering Works (1992 Edition), the tolerance of concrete cover is between +5mm and –5mm and engineers should not accept sub-standard work because they do not possess the authority to change the acceptance criteria. In case engineers consider contractor’s proposal acceptable in technical point of view, consent has to be sought from the employer regarding the changes in acceptance criteria.

From technical point of view, the effect on cracking due to an increase in concrete cover should be considered. In general, there are three main parameters which govern crack width, namely tensile strain at the point considered, the distance of longitudinal bar to the concerned point and the depth of tension zone.

For the second factor, i.e. proximity of longitudinal bars to point of section, the closer a bar is to this point, the smaller is the crack width. Therefore, closely spaced bars with smaller cover will give narrower cracks than widely spaced bars with larger cover. Therefore, with an increase of concrete cover, the crack width will increase which is undesirable.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Construction Failures !!

Hi buddies,

I am back after long time.. Gonna start with warm & refreshing stuff...

I would like to say that " all men in this world is not perfect". What if Civil engineers are not???

Few hilarious pics of such mistakes executed by Royal Civil Engineers !!!