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However, residential home inspectors, homeowners interested in retrofitting their own homes, and disaster coordinators with an interest in housing and shelter would also find the materials very educational. Information gained through the study and analysis of the Northridge earthquake contributed to the development of this course.
Recently revised and updated, this award-winning training course on Earthquake Retrofit of Wood-Frame Homes was developed by FEMA.
For the first time, this training will also cover the specific residential retrofit standards of Bay Area cities.
Over a dozen active faults cross the Bay Area, affecting all of the counties of the region. Only 20 - 40% of the older homes in the Bay Area have been strengthened to resist any earthquake damage, and only 5 - 15% have been strengthened enough to withstand violent shaking without becoming uninhabitable. FOR THE FIRST TIME, THIS TRAINING WILL COVER THE SPECIFIC RESIDENTIAL RETROFIT STANDARDS OF BAY AREA CITIES. First Church of Christ, Scientist, San FrancicsoSeismic rehabilitation of landmark unreinforced brick masonry church building. Soft story Apartment Building In Palo Alto Soft Story Engineering & Construction for 3 story apartment building with parkings in ground floor. Soft Story Apartment Building in AlamedaSoft story Engineering & Construction for 3 story apratment building with ground floor parking. Soft Story Residentail Apartments 407 Vernon OaklandSoft Story Engineering & Construction for 4 story apartment building with tuck under parking.
My house has been through several earthquakes, particularly the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, without damage. Will seismic recommendations follow the standards of the building code?Will they bring my house up to code? Do I need a building permit to do my seismic improvements?Why is a permit needed if there is no applicable retrofitting code? Some information about the earthquake resistance of your house can be obtained simply from knowing when it was constructed.
Seismic failures occur when a house either is displaced from (slides off) its concrete foundation, or when walls below main floor areas of the house collapse.
The existing strength of your home, as well as its earthquake vulnerabilities, can be determined through a visual inspection by a trained and experienced earthquake specialist. The typical cost to completely earthquake retrofit a medium size home with one floor level, a crawl space area relatively free of obstructions and in good condition, and with wooden framed walls in the crawl space (referred to as cripple walls) is about $4,000 to $7,000. While it is fortunate that you did not have previous damage, and this certainly gives comfort, it would be a mistake to rely on such a past experience to predict the effects of any future earthquakes. Also, given a choice, many of us would rather invest our home improvement budget in something other than seismic improvements. Some improvements may be more important to improve safety rather than to protect the property. Do the improvements that may be more cost-effective, or possibly the simplest and most straightforward to install. If any remodeling is planned, make improvements in other areas first; defer the improvements in the planned remodel areas and make the seismic improvements during the remodeling work.
Even though improvements can be staged and even deferred, it is important to remember that full seismic protection will not be achieved until all recommended work is completed. It is common and accepted practice for seismic improvements to be planned by a contractor, especially if the contractor is an experienced seismic specialist. There are situations where an engineer’s consultation is advisable, or where engineered plans are necessary. Following the recent major earthquakes in California, various governmental agencies, private engineers, and university research groups have made extensive examinations of failed buildings, identifying failure points and other weaknesses in construction.
Additionally, the California Seismic Safety Commission, the Association of Bay Area Governments, and the International Conference of Building Officials have jointly sponsored training programs for contractors engaged in the business of offering seismic improvements for homeowners.
At this time there is no formal accrediting agency or certification process for seismic retrofitting, even for engineers. Knowledgeable people have told me that my house is well built.Do I still need to make improvements? Most recommended strengthening practices stem from a report issued by the University of California, Engineering Department, in 1982. Accordingly, if your home was built before these seismic standards were adopted, particularly before the 1980s, to the extent that your home can be upgraded to meet or be closer to these standards, you will be able to reduce its seismic risk. Do I need a a building permit to do my seismic improvements?Why is a permit needed if there is no applicable retrofitting code? Building departments require permits for seismic improvements, and charge a fee based on the valuation of the proposed work. Inspectors also make sure that other peripheral code items are taken care of during the installation. Contrary to the fears which homeowners sometimes express to us, we find that inspection by the building department is done to protect homeowners rather than to be annoying or harassing.
Can I do the retrofitting myself?Or, can I do portions of the work myself in order to reduce the cost?
Code requirements for bolting as well as standard construction practice have changed in response to increased earthquake concerns, especially since 1990. What kind of bolts do you use?Is there any risk of damaging my foundation when bolts are added? General practice is to use either a mechanically anchored bolt, commonly referred to as an expansion bolt or wedge anchor; or a bolt that is bonded to the concrete with epoxy adhesive, commonly referred to as an epoxy bolt or epoxy-set bolt. Expansion bolts have a cone shaped base with a stainless steel sleeve wrapped around the bolt near this slightly widening base.
In older houses where the concrete may be weaker, or when a bolt is going to be asked to resist the effect of being pulled out of the concrete, the epoxy-set bolt should be used. Thus, bolt choice is influenced by several factors: cost, condition and quality of the concrete, and the manner in which the bolt will be loaded. Holdowns are steel brackets attached to the studs of a cripple wall and anchored into the foundation with epoxy-set foundation bolts. Many houses, especially those built in the 1960s and 1970s or later, are constructed with the floor framing set directly on the foundation sill. Failures in past earthquake situations show the floor framing sliding off the bolted sill; a failure in the typically toe-nailed connection between bottom edge of the floor joist and the flat top surface of the bolted sill.
Retrofitting a house consists of adding connectors, where they are found to be missing, improving existing weak connections between the major structural elements of a house, and bracing of walls that are weak and subject to failure under earthquake stress.
My foundation is pretty old and has a few cracks.Can I do the retrofit, or do I have to replace the foundation? The most important question is whether the concrete is strong enough to provide good anchorage for foundation bolts.
Under marginal conditions and with foundation replacement costs very tight, anchoring to the existing concrete may still a good decision. In past earthquake situations, two houses built at about the same time, right next to each other, and with many other similarities have performed very differently.
Given this, it is important to think of earthquake damage prevention as a risk reducing practice rather than have a more absolute expectation as to what may be accomplished. We have had customers tell us that a real estate professional or financial advisor has recommended against retrofitting because the cost is not recoverable in the market value of their home. One of the most common homeowner complaints about contractors is that a job takes too long. If all the work is to be done in crawl space areas, which it is in most cases, the disruption will be minimal. You will be asked to provide access to areas of your home that need to be seen during our initial inspection visit. Family members who participate in decision making about your home will be asked to sit down with our representative for a presentation and discussion of our improvement plan and proposal, usually taking about an hour. If you have any personal items stored in the areas where work needs to be done, you will be asked to temporarily move these items out of the way. You will be asked to arrange for the installation of code-required smoke detectors in bedrooms and hallway areas of your home, if this has not already been done.
And finally, you will be asked to have an adult member of your household be present during the final inspection, by your local building inspector, which might require being home most of a full day.
With recent earthquakes in Japan and Burma, some have raised concerns about the safety of buildings in Thailand. According to Michael Tang, Head of Project and Development Services at Jones Lang LaSalle Thailand, most of the modern high-rise building in the country have been designed to withstand an earthquake of up to 5 on the Richter scale – some have been designed to withstand much greater. According to the Performance Based Earthquake Engineering (PBEE) applied in the US, there are four key levels for the retrofitting – 1.
A home that has been retrofitted is able to resist much greater earthquake forces and has a lower risk of being damaged.
Through numerous studies of past earthquakes, engineers have now determined critical aspects of home construction that make a substantial difference in the ability of a house and other structures to ride out the massive forces of earthquake movments. Fortunately, there are less intrusive ways to retrofit older homes and improve their structural safety and performance during an earthquake. Your home will have a better chance of surviving the next big earthquake and with less property damage and loss of life.
Before you begin a retrofit project, it’s important that you are familiar with the basic principles of home construction and how earthquakes impact your home. New building codes have seismic calculations that leverage the concept of continuous load path. Hillside foundations pose additional challenges because to increased height of cripple walls, and downward hillside forces. Because garage doors are really just a big whole the wall  (less shear), the wall that have these openings are dramatically weakened compared to a solid wall.
If you live in an older home with a living space above the garage or on a hillside, we will need to consult with our  licensed structural engineer for design solutions. Very tall cripple walls, typicall more than 4ft, require  that an engineer specify the details for securing this area. You can enter the address for your home, school, business, or public buildings in your area to see what hazards might affect you. Former Senior Training Officer and Damage Assessment Team Leader for the City of Los Angeles following the Whittier, Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes. While the basics of earthquake retrofitting are simple, the retrofitting process can be complex. Almost any house built before the 1980s can be improved in such a way as to reduce earthquake risk. In the first case, improvement consists of strengthening the connections between the house and the foundation. Typically, this person will make recommendations for strengthening which, if implemented, will reduce the risk of both damage to the property and personal injury to its occupants. A house of similar size and good access, but with no cripple wall (where the floor platform sits directly on the concrete foundation), can have connection improvements installed for $3,000 to $6,000. Geological Survey) shows in its 1990 public information booklet, The Next Big Earthquake, a very dramatic graphic comparing shaking strength with distance from an epicenter. An earthquake of about the same magnitude as the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake is being predicted for the Bay Area. Decisions about earthquake-related improvements are very much like decisions about safety features to include when buying a new car. Do some of the recommended improvements every year or so until all the desired improvements have been made. Their observations along with their recommendations for construction improvements are found in research publications. Experience, formal and informal training of employees, and a company’s track record of retrofitted homes are the foundation for its expertise. Other recommendations for seismic improvements come from field observations and reports issued by governmental agencies, private engineers, and other sources following major California earthquakes, particularly the 1989 Loma Prieta quake and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
If your home was well built originally, seismic improvements may be of even greater value, since you will have both the quality of the original construction and the added improvements to reduce seismic risk. Houses are very different in construction style, accessibility, and seismic vulnerability; it is difficult if not impossible to apply one standard to such a variety of situations and conditions.
Again, though, because houses differ so much in style and construction and, mainly, because homeowners differ in their needs and their expectations, we have found that a customized plan will be necessary to accommodate any given retrofitting situation. If a plywood shear wall is to be built inside a garage, for example, code requires reinstallation of sheetrock over the new plywood to provide a fire barrier between the garage and living area of the house.
Building inspectors are friendly and competent, and will not cause problems for people who know and follow the rules. All permit documents are owned by you, and should be retained with your property records for future reference. However, many people who have attempted to do this give up and call a licensed contractor to complete the work.
Following failures observed after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the building code now requires the use of a larger, thicker, square plate washer in place of the small, thin, round washers that were used for many years. Steel decays and loses its strength, particularly when a home has not had good foundation drainage. In this case, even if the bolts are sound, the connection does not extend far enough into the floors and walls of the home to resist displacement.
Both material cost and installation time are greater for epoxy bolts; thus, they cost more to install. Epoxy-set bolts are installed by drilling a hole in the concrete slightly larger in diameter than the bolt, to give room for the epoxy material. The purpose of a holdown is to resist the overturning and uplift forces acting on a shearwall. If this is the case, even if the bolting is sound, the connections may not extend far enough into the floors and walls to keep the house from sliding off its foundation. These add both lateral or sliding resistance and vertical or lifting resistance to the main body of the house. If the sub-area walls are solid concrete extending to the floor, the addition of the steel struts is to be considered. It would also be nice if we all had the budget to replace foundations when they are in marginal condition, but we do not.
In some cases, it is obvious that foundation replacement is the only solution; one can simply see how weak the concrete is. This process is fairly costly and not usually done unless the foundation condition is highly suspect.
It is easy to see the crumbling of the concrete, signs of years of poor drainage, excessive subsidence, severe cracking and other conditions which suggest that the concrete will fail if heavily loaded. You will need to have the brick foundation (or any portions that are brick) replaced before the remainder of the retrofitting can be done.

Size and shape of the house, condition of the concrete foundation, how well it has been maintained, modifications and changes in the original construction which may have created structural weakness, and many other variable factors will affect earthquake damage. The comparison may be something like maintaining a good diet and exercising to reduce the risk of heart disease. Observations, made repeatedly, from past earthquake situations show that amount of damage, time required for repair and recovery, loss of property, and cost of repairs are significantly and considerably less in buildings where improvements have been made, even during the larger earthquakes.
To a large degree, it depends on both market conditions and the earthquake consciousness of any potential buyer of your property. It is a conscious decision to bet against the forecasts and recommendations of seismologists and other earthquake experts. When buying a home, we recommend having any previous seismic improvements inspected as a part of your purchase process. Larger homes or homes where there is need to open and re-close finished walls for work access will take longer.
This usually consists of no more than a week at your home and some noise coming from under the house.
Bangkok’s City Hall, for example, recently warned that as many as 2,700 buildings in the capital are susceptible to damage from an earthquake.
The current practice of retrofitting is predominantly concerned with structural improvement, essentially to reduce the hazards and losses from the non-structural elements.
The goal is that the structure, while remaining safe for exit, may require extensive repairs before it is general useful for occupation.
The lateral force, often refered to as shear, is whan can cause significant damage from back and forth movements. The simple explanation is  that by using an appropriate series of plywood panels, screws, nails, metal connectors, bolts, and steel panels,  the structure is tied together in suche a way that the forces are moved from the structure of the house to the foundation.
According to the code, anchor bolts must be located within 12 inches from the end of each plate line and no more than 6 feet on center for one and two-story homes.
Current seismic research has scientists in agreement that a powerful earthquake and tsunami will strike our coast within the next 50 years. For this reason we have listed a number of frequently asked questions with detailed answers. Improvements to prevent the second type of failure consist of both supplementing any existing connections to the foundation and strengthening the sub-area supporting walls. Larger and more complex houses, such as houses with split floor levels, cost more to earthquake retrofit than smaller and simpler ones.
Larger homes, homes with many floor levels, steep hillside homes, and homes with finished basement area rooms, or homes with rooms over garages will cost more to retrofit. Most critical, however, is the distance between your home and the source of the earthquake; its epicenter. This graphic makes several comparisons with the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale, and with the epicenter on the San Andreas fault in the Santa Cruz mountain area. If this happens, the strength of shaking in Bay Area cities will be much greater than in 1989, as much as 12 times as strong. More features cost more, but they will also provide greater reduction in the risk of personal injury and property damage. However, there may be situations where it is not possible for the homeowner to make all the recommended improvements because of budget or other considerations.
I would rather spend my limited home improvement money on things I can see and enjoy, like remodeling my kitchen. Many of the recommendations have been adopted into revisions of the Uniform Building Code, especially since 1989, and have been incorporated into new buildings constructed since that time. As a final note, it should also be pointed out that the training of employees who install the seismic improvements is also very important.
Construction standards determined by either the Uniform Building Code, or by common practice, were changed considerably in the 1990s , following the recommendations of these reports. If you cannot count your house as being originally a well-built home, seismic improvement may be absolutely critical. Attempts to develop a consensus among experts regarding retrofitting standards have not been very successful. During the retrofit installation the city inspector will review the work, providing you an independent verification of proper installation.
There are also some other code-required installations that must be done whenever any building permit is involved. This has the effect of anchoring the sill from the top (clamping it down) rather than relying on the bolt extending through the wooden sill for sliding resistance. Rusted bolts cannot be detected by visual inspection alone, or in any other way short of costly testing.
The epoxy material is inserted into the hole in a liquid form, and the bolt is driven into the hole.
The strength of the connection can be increased by installing a longer bolt, more deeply set into the concrete and with more length of attachment. They are typically used where the wall is tall in relation to its length, or if the wall is expected to carry extremely high seismic loads.
With this collapse, the house appears to have been vaulted to one side on its sub-area walls.
They improve the connection of the house framing to the foundation better than that provided by mudsil bolts alone. In order to make this transfer, all connections must be in place and must be strong enough to complete the transfer of movement.
Quite a dilemma — to own an older home, with a weak foundation, live in earthquake country, and have no money. A light tap on the concrete with a steel hammer also reveals differential sounds, which say a lot. The movement during an earthquake is too complex, and there are too many unknowns to be able to answer this question directly.
Both are good health practices; they reduce the risk of a heart attack, but there is no guarantee of such. Also, if there is damage, the extent of the damage is reduced (along with what may be required to repair the damage). This is why engineers, building officials, insurance companies, public safety agencies and others who have observed past earthquake situations recommend, almost without exception, that homeowners have their houses improved for better earthquake resistance. At the time of this writing, the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) which provides the earthquake insurance you receive through many of the major home insurers, will reduce the cost of earthquake coverage by 5% if you have your home retrofitted. The purpose of retrofitting is not to increase property value, it is to help the homeowner reduce financial loss, make a better and faster recovery from a disaster situation, and protect the safety of the home's occupants. The thoroughness and quality of a seismic retrofit are very important when it comes to how the house will perform during an earthquake situation. We’ll cover a variety of structural engineering topics here that I hope interest you and help with your projects and work. It is also important to keep in mind that there is no such thing as an earthquake-proof structure. Structural Functionality applies to primary structure undamaged and the structure is undiminished in utility for its primary application. While it is impractical to tear apart the home and rebuild to today’s standards, there are reasonable measures that have been adopted referred to  earthquake retrofitting which to a great job in structurally enhancing a home. Lateral movements are so strong they can cause a house to fall down, as well as slide off its foundation. Golden Gate Entprises, Inc your San Franciso Bay Area General Contractor can help you with the details including engineering and permits.
The bolts should have a bearing plate between the top of the sill plate and the nut.The bolts should be undamaged and rust-free.
Framing, carpentry, waterproofing, stucco, electrical, plumbing, plans, permits, engineering, painting, foundations, deck building, dry rot repairs.
Many, many homes in our area will suffer devastating damage when the quake ensues due to the fact that their houses are not anchored to their foundations. Houses built 1990 or after usually have the earthquake resistive features installed during the original construction.How Old is My House?
Most importantly, though, is that the seismic retrofitting is voluntary; any homeowner can do as much or as little as he or she wishes.
This means, of course, greater assurance of a good performance when the improvements are put to test during an earthquake. Many of the important details regarding the handling of problematic situations under a house are not covered in the very generalized do-it-yourself manuals. Many homeowners, especially if handy at all, choose to complete some of the preparation and follow-up work themselves to save some money, and leave the critical structural improvement work for the experts.
Additionally, since bolts primarily prevent lateral or sliding movements, other types of hardware called holdowns are installed to resist effects of the house lifting off the foundation during seismic movement.
Northridge observers found situations of impropper drilling, in which the hole drilled for the bolt was too large in diameter. The decay does not reveal itself above the sill, but is inside the concrete where it cannot be seen.
Then, as the nut of the bolt is tightened it draws the coned end into the sleeve, causing it to expand , and wedging the bolt into the hole at its base. After some set up time, the epoxy adheres to the concrete in a bonded attachment usually stronger than the concrete itself. Improvement in the stiffness of these walls is needed in order to transfer the earthquake movements from the ground through the cripple walls to the house. The straps then extend upward, across the flat sill, to connect into either the floor or wall framing of the house. Like the failure of the weakest link in a chain, if any transfer point fails, the house itself may fall, slide, or otherwise be moved off its concrete foundation. New owners of older homes, particularly, may experience this dilemma, given the recent rapid increases in the cost of buying a home in the Bay Area.
In addition, both the strength of the connection and better distribution of loads can be accomplished by using more bolts, placing them closer together, and by using longer, more deeply set bolts. We do not offer these services to home buyers, but will refer you to an engineer or other inspectors who are qualified to do this for you.
Therefore, the amount of investment that a building owner wants to put back into the building would be based on where the building lies in the seismic zone – low, medium and high area,” he added. This requires a high level of retrofit and after seismic activity, only ‘cosmetic’ repairs would be required. Uplift forces are just as bad and can cause a structure to turn over or be lifted off its foundation. Many home even less than 20 years old, still have the small round washers that have show to pull through the wood mud sills. Please call us today for an estimate at 510-885-0197.  If you prefer, please send us an email and we will contact you. The list is long, but when you hire us, you get the experience that is hard to find with more limited contractors. And without this basic anchoring to the foundation, insurance companies will not insure against earthquake damage. Preparations need to include expectations for an intensity of shaking never before experienced by most homes in the Bay Area and surrounding communities. Making certain these details are handled properly often makes a critical difference in the quality and strength of the retrofit.
The bolt is anchored to the concrete at its base, and puts a tension load on the concrete as it is wedged in place. If only parts of the foundation are weak, it may be possible to concentrate the improvements in the areas of the house with the better concrete, and still achieve worthwhile seismic risk reduction. As far as we are aware, the cost of the more general homeowner's coverage is not changed when you retrofit.
Structure Unaffected is a retrofit that is the highest of all which usually applies to high cultural significance. The use of the continual load path concept provides significant increases in structural strenght, allowing for more reistance against uplift as well as leter shear forces. Our thoughtful professionals at Fault Line would like to assist you any way we can in preparing and safeguarding your home. If the epicenter of this same 7.1 earthquake were on the Hayward fault in the Oakland hills, instead of in the Santa Cruz area, shaking in the Oakland hills would be 12 times as strong as it was in that locality in 1989.
One engineer who has advised us thinks that new bolts should be added about every 30-40 years because of steel failure. The epoxy material does not adhere well to the steel, but sets within the openings of the threaded steel, anchoring the bolt much like a screw is anchored within a hole in a piece of wood. Many prospective home buyers have called us to say they needed to have their new houses improved (primarily bolted) before they could get insurance coverage.
Among these four PBEE objectives, the most common is Public Safety which is to protect human life, ensuring that the structure would not collapse upon its occupants or passersby, and that the structure could be safely exited. Customers are glad they hired us because our trained eyes and experience catch many things that other contractors don’t see or overlook. By moving the same size earthquake some 60 miles closer, the intensity of the shaking is increased many fold.
Rember those pictures of the house falling and burning int the Marina during our last earthquare ? Corrosion can be controlled or eliminated by providing a corrosion-resistant base metal or a protective finish or coating that is capable of withstanding the exposure environment.
Good tools and equipment are needed to help the work, to make sure it is well done, and to protect personal safety during the work. When fasteners get corroded, they not only look bad from outside but can also lose their load capacity. This blog focuses on evaluating the corrosion resistance of the fasteners.What does the building code specify?For use in preservative-treated wood, the IBC-2015 specifies fasteners that are hot-dipped galvanized, stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper. While chemically treated wood is part of the corrosion hazard, it is not the whole corrosion hazard. Weather exposure, airborne chemicals and other environmental conditions contribute to the corrosion hazard for metal hardware. However, the International Code Council–Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) developed acceptance criteria to evaluate alternative coatings that are not code recognized for use in different environments.
In this blog post, we will concentrate on the evaluation of corrosion resistance of fasteners. The criteria provide a protocol to evaluate the corrosion resistance of fasteners where hot-dip galvanized fasteners serve as a performance benchmark.
Typical applications that fall under this category are treated wood in dry-use applications.Exposure Condition 2 with untreated wood and salt water.
This test can be used to evaluate fasteners that are above ground but exposed to coastal salt exposure.Exposure Condition 3 with chemically treated wood and moisture.

This test covers all the general construction applications.Exposure Condition 4 with chemically treated wood and salt water. Typical applications include coastal construction applications.Depending on the exposure condition being used for fastener evaluation, the fasteners are installed in wood that could be either chemically treated or untreated.
Then the wood and the fasteners are placed in the chamber and artificially exposed to the evaluation environment.
The purpose of these tests is not to predict the corrosion resistance of the coatings being evaluated, but to compare them to fasteners with the benchmark coating (ASTM A153, Class D) in side-by-side exposure to the accelerated corrosion environment.ASTM B117 Continuous Salt-Spray TestASTM B117 is a continuous salt-spray test.
The fasteners are continuously exposed to either moisture or salt spray in this test, and the test is run for about 1,440 hours after which the fasteners are evaluated for corrosion. This is an accelerated corrosion test that exposes the fasteners to a corrosive attack so the corrosion resistance of the coatings can be compared to a benchmark coating (hot-dip galvanized).ASTM G85, Annex A5The second test is ASTM G85, Annex A5 which is a cyclic test with alternate wet and dry cycles.
This is a cyclic accelerated corrosion test and relates more closely to real long-term exposure.
The fasteners are arranged in the wood with a spacing of 12 times the fastener diameter between the fasteners. A kerf cut is provided in the wood between the fasteners to isolate the fasteners as shown in Figure 2 and to ensure elevated moisture content in the wood surrounding the fastener shank. The moisture and retention levels of the wood are measured, and the fasteners are then installed in the chamber as shown in Figure 3 and exposed to the designated condition. The test is run for the period specified, after which the fasteners are removed, cleaned and compared to the benchmark for corrosion evaluation. The heads and shanks of the fasteners are visually graded for corrosion in accordance with ASTM D610.
Figure 5 shows the benchmark and alternative fasteners that are removed from the chamber after 1,440 hours.As you can see, the alternative coatings have to go through extended and rigorous testing and evaluation as part of the approval process before being specified for any of the fasteners.
Some alternative coatings provide even better corrosion resistance than the code recognized options.
Sometimes, also, the thickness of these alternative coatings may be smaller than the thick coating required for hot-dip galvanized parts.
Some of our coatings, such as the Double-Barrier coating, the Quik Guard® coating and the ASTM B695 Class 55 Mechanically Galvanized have gone through this rigorous testing and have been approved for use in preservative-treated wood in the AC257 Exposure Conditions 1 and 3.
In addition, these coatings have been qualified for use with chemical retentions that are typical of AWPA Use Category 4A – General Ground Contact. Please refer to our Fastener Systems Catalog, C-F-14, pages 13–15 for corrosion recommendations and pages 16–17 for additional information on coatings.What do you look for specifically in a fastener? How CFS Designer Can Help Speed Up Your Design Process Posted by Annie Kao on April 14, 2016 1 Did you know that Simpson Strong-Tie is celebrating its 60th birthday this year? Then, one Sunday evening in the summer of 1956, Barclay Simpson’s doorbell rang and a request for our first joist hanger led us into the wood connector business. Since then, we’ve continued to grow that business by focusing on our engineering, research and development efforts.
Some might say that nowadays we’re an engineering company that also happens to manufacture products, as evidenced by our focus on developing technology tools over the past few years such as web calculators, an updated website and design software.
Our focus on technology, however, is really another aspect of our continued commitment to excellence in manufacturing and our application of the tenets of lean manufacturing.Many of you may already be familiar with the idea of lean manufacturing made famous by Toyota in the early 2000s, along with the principles of continual improvement and respect for people. The concept of continual improvement is based on the idea that you can always make small changes to improve your processes and products.
Although they were established in a manufacturing setting, these ideals ring very true for engineering as well; eliminate steps in your design process that don’t add any value to the final project and always be on the lookout for tools or techniques that can speed up your process.
Thinking lean isn’t about cutting corners to get your result faster, it’s about mindfully getting rid of the steps that aren’t helping you and finding better ways of doing everyday tasks.As structural engineers, we can find ourselves working on a variety of projects that lead us to perform repetitive calculations to check different conditions, such as varying parapet heights on the exterior of a building, or we may find ourselves working with an unfamiliar material, such as light-gauge or cold-formed steel (CFS), where we have to take some time away from design to review reference materials such as AISI S200-12 North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a design tool that could help you complete your light-gauge projects more quickly, in complete compliance with current building codes?It turns out that Simpson Strong-Tie offers a design tool called CFS Designer™ to help structural engineers improve their project design flow.
This program gives engineers the ability to design light-gauge stud and track members with complex beam loading and span conditions according to building code specifications. Allow me to illustrate with an example of a design project.Let’s say you’re designing a building and part of your scope is the exterior wall framing, or “skin” of the building. Sample building elevation with section marks.The architectural elevations will have wall section marks indicated for different framing situations. Sample building wall sections.This building has several different wall section types that include door and window locations, varying parapet heights, diverse finish materials that need to meet different deflection criteria, and different connection points back to the base building. The traditional design calculation that you would need to run for one wall section might begin with a loading diagram similar to Figure 3 below.Figure 3.
After you’ve selected a member with the right width, gauge and steel strength, you’ll need to select an angle clip that can handle the demand loads, as well as fasteners to connect the clip to the CFS stud and to the base building.
You would also need to also check the member design to ensure that it complies with bridging or bracing requirements per AISI. Then, after all that, you’d have to repeat the process again for all of the wall section types for your project.Figure 4.
Hmm, CFS design would sure be a lot easier if buildings were just huge windowless boxes…Just writing out that whole process took some time, and you can imagine that actually running the calculations takes quite a bit longer. I think we can all agree that the design process we’ve outlined is time-consuming, and here’s where using CFS Designer™ to streamline your design process can really help.CFS Designer is a structural engineering design program that can automate many of the manual steps that are required in the design process. It has an easy-to-understand graphical user interface that allows you to input your project parameters within a variety of design modules from walls and beams, jambs and headers, X-brace walls, shearwalls, floor joists, and roof rafters. The program also enables the design of single stud or track members, built-up box-sections, back-to-back sections, and nested stud or track sections.
Figure 5 shows an example of how you would input the same stud we looked at before into the program.Figure 5. CFS Designer™ user interface for wall stud design.The program will generate the loading diagrams and complete calculation package for all of these different situations. And along with checking the member properties and deflection limits, CFS Designer will also check bridging and bracing requirements and provide connector solutions for the studs using tested and code-listed Simpson Strong-Tie products. Simpson Strong-Tie has developed and tested a full array of connectors specifically for CFS curtain-wall construction as well as for interior tenant improvement framing, which allows designers to select a connection clip straight out of a catalog without needing to calculate their own designs per the code. A close-up of the SUBH installed (left) and a wall of studs with bridging installed using the LSUBH clips (right).You can download a free trial of CFS Designer™ and give it a test drive to see how much time it can save you on a design project. The trial version has almost full functionality, with the exception of not being able to print the output sheets. You can see purchasing information online, and you should always feel free to contact your local Simpson Strong-Tie engineering department with any questions you may have. I hope you are able to take advantage of this great tool to further improve your everyday design processes.
We will be sure to keep you updated on our latest technology tools that help speed up the design process.  If you’re using CFS Designer, we’d like to hear your thoughts about the program.
I had to write it down for future reference because of course, all of us here at Simpson Strong-Tie are pretty passionate about connections. So when I started to write this blog post about the proper selection of a truss-to-wall connection, I knew I had found my opportunity – how fitting this quote is!There are plenty of photos of damage wrought by past hurricanes to prove that the connection between the roof and the structure is a critical detail. In a previous blog  post, I wrote about whose responsibility it is to specify a truss-to-wall connection (hint: it’s not the truss Designer’s).
Unless otherwise noted, the horizontal reaction on a truss design should not be confused with a lateral reaction due to the wind acting on the walls – it is simply a horizontal reaction due to the wind load (or a drag load) being applied to the truss profile. It is also important to note that any truss-to-wall connection specified on a truss design drawing was most likely selected based on the uplift reaction alone. There may even be a note that says the connection is for “uplift only” and does not consider lateral loads.
Because Connector-Selector is evaluating the connector for simultaneous loading in more than one direction using a traditional linear interaction equation approach as specified in our catalog:If the shear and lateral forces were to be resisted by another means, such that the H10A only had to resist the 795 lb. For example, the F1 load might be resisted with blocking and RBC clips, and the F2 loads might be resisted with toe-nails that are used to attach the truss to the wall prior to the installation of the H10A connectors. However, if all three loads need to be resisted by the same connector, then the H10A is not adequate according to the linear interaction equation.Uplift OnlySome might question how valid this method of evaluation is – Is it necessary? Several years ago, Simpson Strong-Tie partnered with Clemson University on an experimental study with the following primary objectives:1. To verify the perceived notion that the capacity of the connector is reduced when loaded in more than one direction and that the linear interaction equation is conservative in acknowledging this combined load effect.2. The three different interaction plots that were examined were the traditional linear relationship, a quadratic interaction surface and a cuboid design space.Tri-axial Test FrameInteraction plot for tri-axial loads on a cuboid design spaceThe results?  Not only was the use of the linear interaction equation justified by this study, but a new, more efficient cuboid design surface was also identified. It provides twice the usable design space of the surface currently used for tri-axial loading and still provides for a safe design (and for the bi-axial case, it is even more conservative than the linear equation). He offers information on load resistance and the hardware that professionals can use at the crucial connections to make a deck code compliant. In doing so, we realized that we could facilitate selection of hardware and fasteners if our Corrosion Resistance Classifications for treated wood were linked to common design conditions described in the codes. This blog post talks about those changes and some current related activity in the wood treatment industry.The common design conditions for corrosion-resistant wood construction include the wood materials with associated treatments and the environmental corrosion agents.
As the UC rating increases from UC1 to UC5, the chemical retention increases because the bio-hazard is increasing.
Corrosion hazards are directly related to the combination of treatment chemical, treatment chemical retention and use environment.Figure 1.
In the end, we developed Corrosion Resistance Classifications that considered the AWPA Use Categories, environmental corrosion agents and the ICC-ES AC257 exposure conditions.Some of you may be thinking that we have not mentioned another aspect of corrosion — galvanic corrosion. Galvanic corrosion results when metals with dissimilar electrical potentials are placed in contact in the presence of an electrolyte (water).
Then look in the companion table labeled “Corrosion Resistance Recommendations” to identify a coating or base metal that is appropriate for your project. Be sure to read the table notes to the Corrosion Resistance Classifications for exceptions and limitations.
Let’s take a look at each aspect that contributes to the Corrosion Resistance Classifications table.Environment                                                                                       The environment captures the moisture, atmospheric conditions and other elements that affect corrosion rate.
The absence of moisture limits the electrochemical reaction needed to produce what we see as corrosion.
The “Uncertain Environment” was included for the Designer who does not know the corrosive conditions in service.Material Being FastenedHere we distinguish between clean materials and wood treated with chemicals — wood preservatives or fire-retardant chemicals (FRT).
Cedars tend to be corrosive and particularly prone to staining when fastened with carbon steel hardware and fasteners. As a result, our recommendations for untreated softwoods are generally a function of the environment — moisture, weather exposure and corrosion agents such as salt spray, sulfur or fertilizer fumes and acid rain are all examples.Some treatment chemicals do not significantly increase the corrosion hazard.
The preservatives are not chemically bound to the wood and they can leach out under exposure to liquid moisture, which would leave the wood unprotected. Some of the common wood treatment chemicals include formulations of alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ), copper azole (CA), ammoniacal copper zinc arsenate (ACZA) and micronized copper azole (MCA). The AWPA UC system defines the exposure conditions for each Use Category as well as the chemical retention required to prevent a decay failure.
The MCA formulations are alternatives to those specified in the code-referenced standard through the evaluation report process and are not standardized by the AWPA. The evaluation report process for wood preservatives requires the submission of evidence in compliance with ICC-ES AC326 — Proprietary Wood Preservative Systems — Common Requirements for Treatment Process, Test Methods and Performance.We realize that UC4A is a general-use ground-contact condition, and further, it is the maximum necessary specification for treated wood in many building applications. The Simpson Strong-Tie Corrosion Resistance Classifications recognize that the corrosion hazard of treatment chemical retentions for UC4A in Wet Service is a “Medium” corrosion condition (with the exception of ACZA, which is rated “High” in Wet Service). In these conditions, stainless steel is generally recommended for connectors and fasteners as the best material for mitigating the corrosion risk.The last column in the Corrosion Resistance Classifications table is devoted to FRT wood. Fire-retardant treatment chemicals are proprietary and are deemed to meet the requirements of the codes through the evaluation report process (ICC-ES AC66 — Acceptance Criteria for Fire-Retardant-Treated Wood).
We cannot evaluate the corrosion resistance of hardware to all of the FRT formulations.  However, we have reviewed most of the FRT evaluation reports for corrosion information.
The corrosion effects of FRT chemicals, like preservative treatment chemicals, are minimized in dry-service conditions because the electrochemical reaction cannot progress or is slowed without an electrolyte. The Designer should always follow the FRT evaluation reports in addition to considering our recommendations.It is important to note that the Corrosion Resistance Classifications are not associated with specific applications. Rather, the ratings are based on the integrated effects of the environment and the wood treatment where the chemical retentions given in the AWPA Use Category system play an important role in the ratings.
However, AWPA member chemical companies (Viance, Koppers, and Arch) have placed information in the market.  In parallel with the AWPA, ICC-ES has modified AC326 to reflect the changes ongoing in the AWPA U1 standard. The main effects will likely be to specifications in eastern and southern states, where there may be more chemical in the wood to meet retention specifications.The Simpson Strong-Tie Corrosion Resistance Classifications make specific reference to the corrosive levels of environmental conditions and the chemical treatment and retentions of the AWPA Use Categories, not to applications. As a result, the AWPA U1 revisions and the parallel changes to ICC-ES AC326 will not necessitate a change in our corrosion recommendations, because the chemical retentions for each Use Category have not changed. However, your hardware specifications could change for typical applications depending on the Use Category of the treated wood in your project.
Our information suggests that this issue is still not settled within the industry, and we will pass along information as we learn it.Simpson Strong-Tie is currently preparing new catalogs for the coming year and will be updating the corrosion information in those publications and our website.
We’re interested in your experience with our Corrosion Resistance Classifications and whether you have suggestions for how we might make the content more useful to you.
There were newspaper articles about Habitat houses performing better than neighboring houses in Hurricane Andrew. In an effort to better benefit the homeowners they serve, Habitat has recently started a formal program to build even better, code-plus homes that could stand up to local hazards and document the methods used during construction. Simpson Strong-Tie is proud to be a major sponsor of the program.Habitat Strong actually began as a pilot project funded by Travelers Insurance that built 20 disaster-resistant homes in Alabama, Mississippi, New York and Connecticut. The success of that project convinced Habitat of the importance of building stronger, more resilient homes in all parts of the country. Starting from those regional hurricane-inspired efforts, the Habitat Strong program is now being used by more than 48 affiliates throughout the country, as shown on this map.According to Habitat for Humanity, “The Habitat Strong program is designed to promote the building of homes that are more durable, resilient, and physically stronger. The need for stronger homes has become increasingly apparent, and through Habitat Strong’s fortified codes-plus building practices, we are able to strengthen homes’ building envelopes, which enable[s] them to better withstand natural disasters in every region of the country. This program was developed specifically for the Habitat model to be affordable and volunteer-friendly, while offering benefits to partner families that will last for years to come. Based on these principles, we believe that building homes Habitat Strong is the right thing to do!”Habitat for Humanity has established a set of construction standards for Habitat Strong that are based on the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety® (IBHS) FORTIFIED Home™ program. The FORTIFIED program is a scientifically developed, systems-based incremental approach for creating stronger, safer homes. Each level builds upon measures at the preceding level to increase the disaster resistance of the home.
The Habitat homes that meet the Bronze or Silver standards will be certified as Habitat Strong. Habitat homes that are built to the Gold standard will be certified as Habitat Strong+.Simpson Strong-Tie is proud to be assisting Habitat for Humanity with Habitat Strong. In January, we hosted a training for Texas affiliates that was offered by Habitat and IBHS staff at our Houston training facility.

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