25 Aug 2013

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How to visually identify RC structure elements in a building?

Common RC structure elements is beams, columns and slabs. When you are in a building, what you can see? You will see some walls, windows and doors. It will be important when you want to renovate your building. You cannot simply hacked off the mention elements. It will affect the structural integrity of building structure. Unless you have engage structural engineer who has study into your building structure. The engineer will recommende some remedial proposal.
Before we go further, lets define some of the RC structure elements.

1.Beams- horizontal members carrying lateral loads.
2.Slabs- horizontal plate elements carrying lateral loads.
3.Columns- vertical members carrying primarily axial load but generally subjected to axial load and moment.

If you want to know further of above elements, you have to read some RC structure book. Therefore I will not go into deeply on the technical term for the above elements. I only focus on the visually identify elements.
Below are some tips for visually identify the RC structure elements. Bear in mind that the location highlighted below is possible of appearance of elements and not 100%.
Single storey Car porch location. Normally the car porch location is open area but some car porch with walls. For open area, all the vertical elements is RC columns. where else all the horizontal members that carry the roof trusses is RC beams. For car porch with wall, please follow the guide line of internal building.

Internal building. RC columns mainly located at corner and end of wall. Any vertical member in building is RC column. When you see some thing protrude out from a flat wall, that particular element is possible a RC column. RC beams will hide above wall and horizontal rectangular member that appear from ceiling. RC slabs will be the horizontal element at ceiling level that you can see. Sometime, it may be plaster ceiling not slab.

When you knock on the RC elements, you will feel it is solid member. If you feel something void inside, then it is not RC elements. The element you tested is either wood, plaster member or etc. When you want to further identify these elements, one of the way is to hack off to expose these elements.If it is feel solid, hard to hack off and gray color, then it is RC structure. Or you hack off and found out is red color or sandy, it is clay brick or sand brick wall. RC structure element is comprise of concrete and steel bars. It is gray color. Where else the steels will be brown color.

Written by scchee
Disclaimer: the above article is based on writer personal opinion on Civil and Structural field. It will not represent any ultimate solution of any mention subjects. Writer will not responsible for any causes arise.

Reading level: Beginner.
(Updated 2/2/07)

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