Q&A With Alexis Herr on Anchor Bolt Testing

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Q: Tell us a little about your professional background and experience.

A: I’ve been in the DC area for 15 years. I was originally a structural engineer for new construction projects then made the switch to forensic testing 10 years ago.

Q: How long have you worked at ECS?

A: Since 2010, but I took a year off, I traveled a bit and so it’s technically nine years according to HR.

Q: What is anchor bolt testing and why is it important?

A: Anchor bolt testing is the act of placing a tension load on an anchor which is embedded into concrete to confirm it has adequate strength.  It can be used to confirm the anchor was installed properly or that the structure can support the load required.

Q: What projects require anchor bolt testing inspections and permitting?

A: Generally, we are asked to perform anchor bolt testing and special inspections on new construction when anchor bolts are installed without the proper inspections. If these aren’t done, testing is needed. Also, if the intent is to post install anchors or install them after the concrete is cast instead of embedding them in wet concrete, many structural engineers will require testing for confirmation of installation.

We also adapt this test for other types of anchors, like anchors into concrete which support hanging art installations, mechanical equipment, etc.

Q: What kinds of clients need anchor bolt testing?

A: General contractors and structural engineers benefit from hiring a consultant to perform anchor bolt testing.

Q: When you work with a contractor on a project what are some of the typical challenges you help them overcome?

A: It is usually because the specification for the job requires testing, or because an inspection was missed so we are helping prove the anchor has adequate strength.

Q: Tell us a little bit about some of the recent projects you have worked on.

A: I just had a very unique project, where we adapted this test for another use. There was a concern that due to cold weather and time constraints, the concrete pour may have lacked making the bond between reinforcing steel and concrete. We exposed the end of the embedded reinforcing steel and used a saw to cut the back end of the steel to isolate an embedded length of steel 12 inches in length. We performed tension testing on the bar to see if it would pull out of the concrete and compared the load to a bar placed in better weather at the same job site.

headshot of Alexis Herr