Most Common Reasons for Structural Failures
- January 2, 2023
We all have heard horror stories of unfortunate structural failures. When a building collapse or structure fails, it has serious repercussions as it may lead to expensive repair costs and, in worst cases, even loss of lives. So, to prevent such mishaps, the integrity of a structure is of utmost importance.
Now you may ask what exactly leads to such disastrous structural failures. Basically, structural failures are caused due to numerous reasons that may not be easy to predict. Whether it’s the collapse of a bridge or the sudden breakdown of a building, the major causes of structural failure are defective designs and the use of inferior construction materials. A structure may also fail if the design is satisfactory, but unskilled laborers were employed for construction work.
As such, the design of structures should ensure stability, strength, and serviceability. Moreover, the owners, designers, and builders must know all the potential reasons for failure and undertake every possible preventive measure. Following are the top causes of structural failure that must be taken care of.
By inspecting the site of a collapsed building, the cause of failure can be determined. It’s found that in many cases that the foundation of the collapsed building was not properly designed and constructed. The foundation’s stability depends on the topsoil layers, which provide the bearing capacity to hold the structure. Often due to the unavailability of appropriate land, builders construct buildings on soil with an insufficient bearing capacity to support the structure’s weight. Moreover, sometimes expansive clays are present in near-surface soils that shrink or enlarge as the moisture content changes. This may cause movement of the foundation.
Poor Quality Material and Inferior Workmanship
To save money, sometimes, builders use low-quality materials that ultimately result in structural failure. To ensure the integrity of the structure, materials of the best quality should be used that are corrosion-free and provide utmost stability. Inferior materials are those construction materials which do not meet the specification such as weight, density, chemical properties, etc.
Another factor responsible for building crumple is employing inferior laborers. Sometimes, despite using superior quality materials, structures fail due to poor artistry. Even the best design fails to perform when the origin and cause of structural defects is poor artistry. This is because construction requires skilled hands to build a fault-free structure. What if you apply high-quality paint to an unclean, rough surface? Obviously, it will not produce the desired result, not because the material was second-rate, but because it was misused. If workers are unskilled, defects such as leaking roofs, cracked floor tiles, shedding paint, etc., become unavoidable. Great design and best material need an experienced workforce with knowledge of proper construction operation and implementation procedures.
A good architectural and structural design is fundamental for the excellent performance and low maintenance of the buildings. To ensure proper support, foundation construction, and architectural design need to go hand-in-hand. Architectural design flaws and construction defects may lead to serious consequences. Sometimes, even a minor defect may have a disastrous upshot for human life and property. Considering this, ensuring accuracy and perfection in structural design is significant for all buildings, especially for skyscrapers. Architects and civil engineers achieve this accuracy through careful and methodical designing that can sustain the applied loads.
Time and again, something goes wrong with a design, and a structure collapses or fails to do its job due to any of the above-mentioned reasons. Whether a building collapses due to design flaws, faulty construction, foundation failure, extraordinary loads, or a combination of causes, it’s necessary to investigate the cause of failure. Sometimes, natural disaster or poor maintenance also results in structural failure. If the buildings are not repaired or maintained regularly, the building may deteriorate, and after some time, it can collapse fully or partially.