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Strengthening Structural Steel Beams

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Instructor Information: Alexander Newman, P.E., F.ASCE

Course Length: 1.5 Hours

This webinar was co-sponsored by ASCE's Structural Engineering Institute and ASCE Continuing Education

Purpose and Background

When a steel-framed building is renovated, at least some of its beams may require strengthening. The reasons might include a heavier live load desired for the new building, the weight of added HVAC equipment, or a higher axial capacity of some beams that function as drag struts for wind or seismic forces. Replacement of existing beams with stronger new ones remains an option, but there are other alternatives involving strengthening. This webinar provides a concise overview of these strengthening methods.

The presentation starts with a summary of the main issues and some code provisions for renovating steel structures. It proceeds to practical methods of assessment of existing steel beams, including relevant reference materials on the allowable stresses used in early construction. The discussion then moves to the central topic – the various methods of strengthening structural steel beams.

The strengthening methods discussed in this webinar include analytical studies (such as reducing load), shortening the span, adding compatible beams between existing, post-tensioning (also known as external prestressing), enlarging the section by welding additional elements, and introducing composite action with concrete. A number of step-by-step design examples illustrate the design procedures involved. The last topic is strengthening beam connections, which is often required whenever the beams are strengthened.

Learning Outcomes/Benefits

  • Learn practical techniques of strengthening structural steel beams
  • Become familiar with the different design philosophies of welding additional elements (plates, WT sections) to steel beams carrying load
  • Find out how the provisions of the AISC Specification influence the connections of the cover plates to the existing beams
  • Discuss how analytical studies (such as a different treatment of the partition loading in the old and new codes) can help reduce or even eliminate any field work under some circumstances
  • Work through design examples involving enlarging the beam section and introducing composite action with concrete
  • Examine practical methods of strengthening beam connections

Intended Audience

Structural and civil engineers and other design and construction professionals seeking to learn more about practical methods of strengthening structural steel beams will benefit from this webinar.

Webinar Outline

  • General issues
  • Code provisions for renovation of steel structures
  • Investigating existing conditions
  • Allowable stresses in early steel
  • Strengthening methods
    – Analytical studies
    – Replacement
    – Passive vs. active methods
    – Shortening the span
    – Adding members
    – Introducing composite action with concrete
    – Post-tensioning (external prestressing)
    – Enlarging the section
  • Strengthening connections