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When designing a water storage tank, should movement joints be installed?

In designing water storage tanks, movement joints can be installed in parallel with steel reinforcement. To control the movement of concrete due to seasonal variation of temperature, hydration temperature drop and shrinkage etc. two principal methods in design are used: to design closely spaced steel reinforcement to shorten the spacing of cracks, thereby reducing the crack width of cracks; or to introduce movement joints to allow a portion of movement to occur in the joints.

Let’s take an example to illustrate this. For 30m long tanks wall, for a seasonal variation of 35 degree plus the hydration temperature of 30oC, the amount of cracking is about 8.8mm. It can either be reduced to 0.3mm with close spacing or can be absorbed by movement joints. Anyway, the
thermal movement associated with the seasonal variation of 35oC is commonly accounted for by movement joints.


For water-retaining structure like pumping stations, the crack width requirement is even more stringent in which 0.2mm for severe and very severe exposure is specified in BS8007. It turns out to a difficult problem to designers who may choose to design a heavy reinforced structure. Obviously, a better choice other than provision of bulky reinforcement is to allow contraction movement by using the method of movement joints together with sufficient amount of reinforcement. For instance, service reservoirs in Water Supplies Department comprise grids of movement joints like expansion joints and contraction 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.

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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

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