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How to Control Deflection of Reinforced

In most cases design of reinforced concrete beams and slabs is


governed by deflection rather than strength. Various measures to
control deflections of RCC beams and slabs are explained in this
article. If these options are implemented properly, the result could be
more cost effective compared to elements that either show deflections
consequently require expensive rehabilitation or members which
designed for unnecessary deflection response.

To fully evaluate these techniques, designers need to know reinforced


concrete member stress level; whether concrete member is uncracked
or fully cracked. The concrete members are assumed to be fully
cracked when applied moment in positive parts are larger than two
times cracking moment.

Furthermore, influence of options on deflection, nearly the amount of


deflection reduction, and application of these techniques in proper
conditions are discussed for all options.

These choices are divided into three major categories includes design
techniques, construction techniques, selection of materials. In this
article design options for reducing deflections are discussed.

Following are the design techniques to reduce deflections of reinforced


concrete beams and slabs

Make the element deeper

Make the member wider

Introduce compression reinforcement


Add tension reinforcement

Apply or increase prestressing

Revise geometry of the structure

Review deflection limit criteria

Make the RCC Beams and Slabs Deeper


It might be difficult or impossible to modify dimension of concrete
elements after architectural design is established, but there are
situations where increasing beam depth can be carried out.

It is claimed that reducing deflection is approximately equal to the


square of the effective depth [I = nAs (1-k) jd2 almost = d2] for cracked
and nearly equal to the cube of the ratio of total depth [I = (bh 3)/12
almost = h3] for uncracked sections.

Improving stiffness by increasing depth is more effective in uncracked


rectangular section compare with uncracked T-sections. This is
because the flanges do not change and influence of the flange is
constant on uncracked stiffness and is not proportional to increase
depth.
When the depth of a section is increased to an extent that could lead
to decline tensile stress, so that, cracked section become partially
cracked or uncracked, then the member stiffness will be increased
substantially.

Lastly, the stiffness of uncracked element could be higher three times


than the stiffness of partially cracked element.

Choose Wider Member Sections of RCC Beams


If the element is uncracked increase width of the section leads to
increase stiffness proportionally. However, widening cracked member
width will not generate noticeable stiffness improvement in the
element unless the section becomes uncracked after increasing its
width.

This technique cannot be implemented in slabs and members with


physical restrictions on their width. Nonetheless, the option is
applicable and significantly effective for increasing stiffness when
architectural considerations prevent any modification in the beam
height.

Introduce Compression Reinforcement to RCC Beams and


Slabs
Adding compression bars as per ACI Code procedure will not influence
immediate deflection but will half long term deflection.

For instance, if long term and short term deflection of an element is 25


mm and 12 mm respectively, (total deflection is 37 mm), adding 2%
compression reinforcement decline long term deflection by 50% means
12.5 mm and total deflection of the member will be 24.5 mm.
Compression steel reinforcement effect will be higher if it placed close
to compression face, that is why this technique is more influential in
deep beams than in shallower beams or slabs if both members have
the same concrete cover.

Even though this option is useful for all flexural members but it is
substantially effective and considerably beneficial in T-beam in which
neural axis is close to the compression face.

Add Tension Reinforcement to RCC Beams and Slabs


Adding tension bars are considerably effective and nearly
proportionally decrease deflection (immediate plus long term
deflection) with increasing steels in fully cracked sections.

In contrary, influence of adding tension steels in uncracked section


deflection is close to none. For example, if the deflection of an element
is 3.8 cm, it can be decreased to around 2.8 cm by adding fifty percent
of tension reinforcement to the member.
The maximum reinforcement limitation recommended by ACI Code
should not be exceeded by adding tension steels.

This method has significant effect in under reinforced solid and ribbed
slabs. It is not suitable or restricted for heavily reinforced beams
unless compression steels is added. Finally, congestion reinforcement
is possible if it is decided to apply this technique.

Apply or Increase Prestressing


Most of prestressed members are designed to balance applied loads;
this means upward reaction of prestressed tendons are nearly equal to
the dead and other continuous and permanent loads. Deflection
resulted from live load is the same in both prestressed and normal
reinforced concrete sections.

When prestressing makes the element remain in uncracked condition,


whereas otherwise it would be cracked, deflection due to live load will
be lesser. Moreover, if size of the element is decreased to make use of
prestressing, the deflection as a consequent of live load will be
considerably large.

That is why span to depth ratio of floor slabs and roofs are restricted
to 48 and 52 respectively in the case of light live load. In the case
where live load to dead load ratio is large, span to depth ratio must be
decreased proportionally to achieve desirable deflection performance.

Lastly, if the member is prestressed to provide satisfactory deflection


only then it is not necessary to balance entire dead load and the
element might be partially cracked.
Revise Geometry of the Structure
This option could be adding cross elements to make two way systems,
decreasing span length by increasing column number, and enlarge size
of column to give higher restrains to flexural members. The last choice
is specifically influential in end spans.

Review Deflection Limit Criteria


In the situation where the deflection of a member surpasses deflection
limitations, revising the deflection restrictions to find out whether it is
unnecessarily harsh limitation or not is an option.

If analyzing and experience demonstrated that the deflection


limitation criteria can be increased then it is not required to apply
other measures. Most of building Code does not establish absolute
limitations on deflections.

Utilization of recommendations provided by the building codes in


building occupancy or construction conditions is for the engineers to
decide.

Factors Affecting Deflections of


Reinforced Concrete Beams and Slabs
By
Madeh
-
Dec 11, 2016

There are various factors which affect deflections of reinforced


concrete beams and slabs which needs to be considered and assessed
adequately during design and construction.
These factors can be divided into two group including parameter
known before construction and factors unknown before construction.
It is demonstrated that unknown factors are more influential than
those known before construction.

Moreover, the potential deflection variation of reinforced concrete


beams and slabs can be assessed by calculating deflections employing
realistic maximum and minimum values for parameters. In this article
the most important and influential factors are discussed.

Factors Affecting Deflections of RCC Beams and


Slabs
Following are the factors which affect deflections of flexural members
(beams and slabs) in reinforced concrete structures:

Errors in the deflection computation of flexural members

Loading of flexural members


Flexural stiffness

Factors affecting fixity

Construction variations of flexural members

Creep and shrinkage in flexural members

Errors in computation of deflections for beams and slabs


Generally, calculations are carried out by a human that is why
discrepancy between actual and computed deflections can be
originated mainly from computational errors. Numbers of such
computational errors are discussed and explained in the following
sections.

There are many deflection calculation steps which must be considered


to achieve the final deflection result. Any error in any step could have
a considerable detrimental effect on the final result. For example,
when error probability is 1% in each step, the probability of errors in
the final result is around 10%. Moreover, it is considered that the
computation errors between 25 50% are uncommon.

The length and complex detail of deflection calculation could be


decreased by applying a computer program. The program should take
most of the parameters, which affect the flexural member deflection
into account and credibly compute and expect structural deflection in
wide range of conditions with substantial accuracy.

Lastly, it is significant that practical engineer compare calculated and


performance deflection in order to achieve and develop strong
judgment skills.
Utilization of factored loads or moments unintentionally rather than
actual service loads or moments in calculation of deflection is another
source of errors in the deflection calculation of beams and slabs
(flexural members).

Finally, ultimate moments from moment coefficients of pattern load


may be employed instead of actual moments for the loading conditions
under considerations.

Loadings on RCC Beams and Slabs


There are numbers of factors based on loads which affect deflections
of RCC beams and slabs, such as:

It is important to take loading history due to the fact that


concrete modulus of elasticity and rupture is different at
different ages and consequently affect immediate deflection.

Use actual loads instead of loads that considered in strength


design. Moreover, it is common to find that live loads
determined by building codes are never reached in real
situations.

Consider the proportion of long term loading versus temporary


loading. Because creep deflection happens when loads sustain
for some time, therefore permanent live loads lead to more
creep deflection compared to transient live loads. Furthermore,
some live loads might stay for considerably long period of time
and responsible for substantial deflection whereas those
remain for a while could not cause measurable long term
deflection.
Correctly evaluate the live load; when actual service live load
is less than design live load, applied moment to cracking
moment ratio will be smaller. This might produce higher
effective moment of inertia, consequently dead and live load
deflection will be lower.

Consider redundancy; for instance when reinforced concrete


element transverses to the main span may some loads,
consequently the moment is decreased which in return the
deflection of the member under consideration is reduced.

Flexural Stiffness of RCC Beams and Slabs


It is recommended to employ both actual modulus of elasticity (Ec) and
modulus of rupture (fr) due to their influence on deflection. American
Concrete Institute Code specify the ratio of fr?(fc)0.5 = 7.5 however
depends on number of researches the ratio is changing from 7.5 up to
10.

The moment of inertia will increase by 75 percent if modulus of


rupture is increased by one third. The ACI Code value is conservative,
so computed deflection is greater than actual deflection.

Moreover, in the case where premature cracks due to construction


loads are not permitted, it is advised to use effective moment of
inertia at all loading stages based on cracking amount of that stage.

Furthermore, only one flexural stiffness computation is required to be


carried out and one cracking condition, which is when maximum load
is reached, is considered if the ultimate load is occurred during
construction.
Not only is this assumption is supported by site observation which the
most extreme loading situation take place during construction when
shoring loads from above stories and other construction loads are
imposed on the structure but also provide simpler and easier
calculation.

Furthermore, actual location of reinforcement as built should be used


when the structure is explored entirely especially when considerable
deviation is occurred between as built location and specified position.

Apply actual location and amount of compression reinforcement for


calculating gross and cracked moment of inertia. Similarly, employ
actual location and amount of tension reinforcement for cracked
moment of inertia estimation.

Last but not least, consider flange effect even if they are small. Both
uncracked and cracked moment of inertia is small and calculated
deflection is high when rectangular section is employed rather than T-
section.

Finally, produce reasonable assessment about the contribution of end


region stiffness to the overall stiffness instead of averaging end and
mid span stiffness.

Mid-span stiffness application might provide satisfactory results for


normal and simple computation procedure however accuracy for
extended calculation could be increased by including end region
stiffness.

Fixity of RCC Beams and Slabs


Rotation of the support in cantilever should be considered since
support rotation can create a movement which is larger than the
flexural deflection of the member. Moreover, rotation might lead to
raising or lowering in the end based on loading and dimensions of back
span.

Moreover, take nearby restraint into account which is provided by


unloaded parallel members through tensional stiffness of supporting
beams.

Furthermore, establish moment distribution on actual stiffness and


loading conditions of the member instead of suggested prismatic
elements.

Another measure that should be considered is providing allowance for


stiffness of joints unless they are strong or have enough anchored
reinforcement. This effect is similar to the influence of support
rotation in cantilever. There are no analytical tools that satisfactorily
deal with this consideration.

Finally, end spans must be analyzed cautiously since they are


sensitive to assumptions of moment at critical sections. If end support
is suggested to have small stiffness, the positive moment in the end
support is high and consequently calculated deflection is large,
regardless of providing more steel bars to withstand higher moment.

That is why designers may utilize wider beams and more


reinforcement in the end spans for controlling deflection rather than
for strength requirement.
In addition to all aforementioned factors, procedures of shoring and
reshoring should be precisely controlled due to substantial effect of
moment distribution on deflection variation. Improper procedures
could create moments that might be more severe than those which the
structure is designed for.

Construction Variations of Flexural Members


Generally, designer cannot do much about construction variations
apart from determining tolerances and procedures. ACI 117-10 provides
tolerances on steel installation, concrete outline, and material
properties.

When maximum variations are employed in the same direction to


calculate deflection their effect could be substantially high. However,
it is likely that variations cancel each other and their effect will not be
high unless they are influence each other in the same direction.

Numbers of extremely severe variations in construction which affect


deflections of RCC beams and slabs are explained in the following
sections:

Concrete outline tolerances could lead to smaller or larger


member compare with specified element.

As a consequent of gravity, concrete cover might thinner than


determined. Cracked moment of inertia is increased as
effective depth is increasing. Gravity effect leads to increase
top bar cover and decrease effective depth and moment of
inertia.
Concrete modulus of rupture is more changeable than
compressive strength. It might vary along the member length
and is likely to reach average in its influence on deflection.

Concrete compressive strength could be higher as much as


15% than specified and increase modulus of elasticity by 7%. If
the structure is loaded before it reaches design strength,
detrimental effect on deflection could be more serious than
demonstrated by lower concrete strength because creep
coefficient can be up to 50% larger for stress/ strength ratios fc
/ fc > 0.50 than for fc / fc < 0.50. That is why loading structures,
which are sensitive to deflection, should be prevented before it
reaches design strength.

If bottom bar numbers are less or more than specified, the


effect would be proportional when the element is cracked.

Creep and shrinkage in flexural members


There are various factors that affect creep and shrinkage such as age
of loading, minimum thickness, relative humidity, volume to surface
ratio, cement content, slump, aggregates, air content, ambient
temperature, and admixtures. These factors are discussed in ACI
209.1R-05.