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What is the purpose of using movement accommodation factor for joint sealant?

Movement accommodation factor is commonly specified by manufacturers of joint sealants for designers to design the dimension of joints. It is defined as the total movement that a joint sealant can tolerate and is usually expressed as a percentage of the minimum design joint width. Failure to comply with this requirement results in overstressing the joint sealants.

For instance, if the expected movement to be accommodated by a certain movement joint is 4mm, the minimum design joint width can be calculated as 4÷30% = 13.3mm when the movement accommodation factor is 30%. If the calculated joint width is too large, designers can either select another brand of joint sealants with higher movement accommodation factor or to redesign the arrangement and locations of joints.

This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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.

This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

Can a concrete structure be completely free of expansion joints and contraction joints?

Consider that the concrete structure is not subject to the problem of differential settlement.

For contraction joints, it may be possible to design a concrete structure without any contraction joints. By using sufficient steel reinforcement to spread evenly the crack width over the span length of the structure, it may achieve the requirement of minimum crack width and cause no adverse impact to the aesthetics of the structure. However, it follows that the amount of reinforcement required is higher than that when with sufficient contraction joints.

For expansion joints, the consequence of not providing such joints may be difficult to cater for. For example, a concrete structure has the coefficient of thermal expansion of 9×106 /sup>o
C and a Young’s modulus of 34.5kN/mmsup>2 With an increase of temperature of 20sup>oC and it is restricted to free
expansion, then the structure is subject to an axial stress of 6.21MPa. If the structure is very slender (e.g. concrete carriageway), buckling may occur.

Therefore, the structure has to be designed to take up these thermal stresses if expansion joints are not provided. However, for water retaining structures, most of them are not affected by weather conditions because they are insulated from the water they contain internally and soil backfill that surround them. Therefore, it is expected that a smaller amount of thermal movement will occur when compared with normal exposed concrete structure. Consequently, expansion joints may be omitted in this case with the view that the compressive stress induced by thermal expansion toughens the structure to limit the development of tensile stress.

This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

If on-site slump test fails, should engineers allow the contractor to continue the concreting works?

This is a very classical question raised by many graduate engineers. In fact, there are two schools of thought regarding this issue.

The first school of thought is rather straightforward: the contractor fails to comply with contractual requirements and therefore as per G. C. C. Clause 54 (2)(c) the engineer could order suspension of the Works. Under the conditions of G. C. C. Clause 54(2)(a) – (d), the contractor is not entitled to any claims of cost which is the main concern for most engineers. This is the contractual power given to the Engineer in case of any failure in tests required by the contract, even though some engineers argue that slump tests are not as important as other tests like compression test.

The second school of thought is to let the contractor to continue their concreting works and later on request the contractor to prove that the finished works comply with other contractual requirements e.g. compression test. This is based upon the belief that workability is mainly required to achieve design concrete compression strength. In case the compression test also fails, the contractor should demolish and reconstruct the works accordingly. In fact, this is a rather passive way of treating construction works and is not recommended because of the following reasons:

(i) Workability of freshly placed concrete is related not only to strength but also to durability of concrete. Even if the future compression test passes, failing in slump test indicates that it may have adverse impact to durability of completed concrete structures.

(ii) In case the compression test fails, the contractor has to deploy extra time and resources to remove the work and reconstruct them once again and this slows down the progress of works significantly. Hence, in view of such likely probability of occurrence, why shouldn’t the Engineer exercise his power to stop the contractor and save these extra time and cost?

This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

What are the differences between shear slump and collapse slump in slump test?

There are three types of slump that may occur in a slumps test, namely, true slump, shear slump and collapse slump.

True slump refers to general drop of the concrete mass evenly all around without disintegration.

Shear slump indicates that the concrete lacks cohesion. It may undergo segregation and bleeding and thus is undesirable for the durability of concrete.

Collapse slump indicates that concrete mix is too wet and the mix is regarded as harsh and lean.

types of concrete slump

This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.