Do you consider your building structurally sound? Living in or using your building, whether residential or commercial, without worrying about structural issues will always give you great peace of mind. However, despite being built according to the required standards, most buildings experience continuous stress from seismic forces and other actors that may impact their structural integrity. Structural failure may also occur from various sources like wear, corrosion, fatigue, defective materials, improper usage conditions and improper environmental conditions. Fortunately, several solutions for enhancing a building's structural integrity exist. Here are some of them.
Early Risk Identification
Staying ahead of structural issues by identifying the risks of structural failure early is one of the most practical ways to preserve your building's structural integrity. Therefore, plan for regular building inspections. Usually, many areas have regulations regarding inspection intervals. It will be best to inspect your building more times than what's recommended. You will identify signs of structural damage early enough. It's also critical to perform these inspections when planning major renovations or repair work on the building. And as you conduct these inspections, ensure structural engineers are involved in the process, especially where building design changes are involved.
Water seepage is one of the major culprits behind structural failure. Water can weaken your building's structural footing and cause deterioration of the foundation walls. Therefore, ensure your building has adequate waterproofing. Fortunately, several waterproofing solutions exist, including gravel, weeping tile systems, etc. You can consider adding these to your building if the existing waterproofing solutions aren't enough. A construction contractor or structural engineer can help you determine whether the exterior of your building has proper waterproofing and the right waterproofing solutions to use if it doesn't.
You can also improve your building's structural integrity by reinforcing or strengthening some of its components to enhance their structural performance. Take concrete columns, for instance. You can strengthen them through section enlargement techniques or by adding bonded steel elements. As the name implies, section enlargement involves pouring more concrete around the columns to make them thicker and increase their load-bearing capacity. You can also bond steel elements onto the beams or columns to allow them to support heavier loads.
Span shortening is another reinforcement or strengthening technique you may consider to improve your building's structural integrity. This method is often used for buildings with few supporting points or with large expansive building areas or sections. For instance, if you have a considerably large space on the lower floors that's unsupported by beams, columns or pillars, roofs or walls on these floors may eventually give in to the weight of the upper floors or levels and collapse. Therefore, to prevent such outcomes, you can consider span shortening by adding support columns on the lower floors.
Contact a structural engineer to learn more.