Full Scale Load Testing

Buildings have a lot of weight to carry. The foundation, walls and other structural components must be capable of supporting the loads they bear. 

Sometimes during the renovation or repurposing of an existing building, the need arises for full-scale load testing. This is most often the case when original building drawings are not available and/or the original construction is of such a configuration as to not be easily analyzed. In some cases, damage to an existing structure may have occurred from water, fire or other means and the existing capacity is in question. In other cases, a limited increase in the rated capacity of a system is requested but conservative calculations do not accurately reflect the excess capacity of that system.

Buildings have a lot of weight to carry. The foundation, walls and other structural components must be capable of supporting the loads they bear. 

Sometimes during the renovation or repurposing of an existing building, the need arises for full-scale load testing. This is most often the case when original building drawings are not available and/or the original construction is of such a configuration as to not be easily analyzed. In some cases, damage to an existing structure may have occurred from water, fire or other means and the existing capacity is in question. In other cases, a limited increase in the rated capacity of a system is requested but conservative calculations do not accurately reflect the excess capacity of that system.

construction crane

What Is Full-Scale Load Testing? 

Full-scale load testing allows developers and contractors to meet code requirements. During the construction of a new building, construction load testing can show that a foundation has the strength needed to pass inspections and meet demands. When performed prior to a renovation or retrofit, load testing can demonstrate whether a building can support the anticipated loads.

Full-scale load testing allows developers and contractors to meet code requirements. During the construction of a new building, construction load testing can show that a foundation has the strength needed to pass inspections and meet demands. When performed prior to a renovation or retrofit, load testing can demonstrate whether a building can support the anticipated loads.

construction crane

Types of Loads

The two loading categories are known as live and dead loads. These terms refer to the relationship the loads have to the building. 

Dead loads include any materials that are part of the structure, such as the roofing materials, floor tiles and walls. Identifying the components that make up the dead load in a building is relatively straightforward, as the materials are preexisting and static. 

Live loads are less easily predicted than dead loads, as they can be continuously in flux. Examples of live loads include the building’s occupants and the furnishings inside. Temperature changes, wind, rain and snow also contribute to live loads. 

Full-scale load testing allows you to evaluate the impact live and dead loads have on a building’s structural integrity and stability.

The type of load test performed is based on the direction of the load and the structural component. Certain elements of a building, such as slabs, are under load due to gravity. A compression test would evaluate the reaction of the slabs to added weight. Other components, such as the foundation walls, bear load laterally. A lateral load test puts pressure on the foundation walls.

The Full-Scale Load Testing Process?

Generally, full-scale load testing follows the provisions laid out in the International Building Code (IBC). The structure is shored and a tank or some other means of applying load is installed. Devices are installed to measure the deflection of the structure during testing. 

The structure is then gradually loaded until the specified test load is reached (often 2x the final rated load) and the final deflection is measured. The load is held for 24 hours and then released. The deflection is continually measured as the structure “rebounds” from the load for an additional 24 hours. 

Provided that the structure does not exceed the calculated maximum deflection and rebounds sufficiently after the load is removed, the structure will be deemed to have passed and the rated load can be determined.

Types of Loads

The two loading categories are known as live and dead loads. These terms refer to the relationship the loads have to the building. 

Dead loads include any materials that are part of the structure, such as the roofing materials, floor tiles and walls. Identifying the components that make up the dead load in a building is relatively straightforward, as the materials are preexisting and static. 

Live loads are less easily predicted than dead loads, as they can be continuously in flux. Examples of live loads include the building’s occupants and the furnishings inside. Temperature changes, wind, rain and snow also contribute to live loads. 

Full-scale load testing allows you to evaluate the impact live and dead loads have on a building’s structural integrity and stability.

The type of load test performed is based on the direction of the load and the structural component. Certain elements of a building, such as slabs, are under load due to gravity. A compression test would evaluate the reaction of the slabs to added weight. Other components, such as the foundation walls, bear load laterally. A lateral load test puts pressure on the foundation walls.

The Full-Scale Load Testing Process?

Generally, full-scale load testing follows the provisions laid out in the International Building Code (IBC). The structure is shored and a tank or some other means of applying load is installed. Devices are installed to measure the deflection of the structure during testing. 

The structure is then gradually loaded until the specified test load is reached (often 2x the final rated load) and the final deflection is measured. The load is held for 24 hours and then released. The deflection is continually measured as the structure “rebounds” from the load for an additional 24 hours. 

Provided that the structure does not exceed the calculated maximum deflection and rebounds sufficiently after the load is removed, the structure will be deemed to have passed and the rated load can be determined.

ECS field tech recording results on tablet

Why Is Full-Scale Load Testing Important? 

Load testing performs two functions, the first being that a positive result verifies that a structure is capable of performing as anticipated. Additionally, testing provides insight and information about a building’s structural behavior.

When performed on older buildings, a load test can provide an idea of the severity of any distress or deterioration, particularly if the extent of the problem cannot be detected just by observation.

Full-scale load testing allows you to make informed decisions before starting a construction project, whether you are building a new building or renovating an existing structure. The results of the test can confirm that a foundation is able to withstand the weight of the anticipated loads. 

Why Is Full-Scale Load Testing Important? 

Load testing performs two functions, the first being that a positive result verifies that a structure is capable of performing as anticipated. Additionally, testing provides insight and information about a building’s structural behavior.

When performed on older buildings, a load test can provide an idea of the severity of any distress or deterioration, particularly if the extent of the problem cannot be detected just by observation.

Full-scale load testing allows you to make informed decisions before starting a construction project, whether you are building a new building or renovating an existing structure. The results of the test can confirm that a foundation is able to withstand the weight of the anticipated loads. 

jobsite

When to Perform a Full-Scale Load Test

There are many instances when full-scale load testing can be appropriate. Load testing can evaluate construction defects or design issues, such as a lack of steel reinforcement beams in concrete or lower-grade construction elements. If a beam is out of place or lower-quality materials are in use, load testing can determine whether the structure is still able to bear loads. The testing can also help engineers decide what types of repairs or improvements would be beneficial.

Load testing can also be advantageous when a structure is historical or has a unique design. Older buildings typically lack documentation or may not offer the option of creating exploratory openings to learn more about their structural integrity. 

There are many instances when full-scale load testing can be appropriate. Load testing can evaluate construction defects or design issues, such as a lack of steel reinforcement beams in concrete or lower-grade construction elements. If a beam is out of place or lower-quality materials are in use, load testing can determine whether the structure is still able to bear loads. The testing can also help engineers decide what types of repairs or improvements would be beneficial.

Load testing can also be advantageous when a structure is historical or has a unique design. Older buildings typically lack documentation or may not offer the option of creating exploratory openings to learn more about their structural integrity. 

jobsite

Contact ECS for Full-Scale Load Testing

ECS is a full-scale load testing company and much more. We are proud to be a leader in construction materials, environmental, geotechnical and facilities engineering. Since the beginning, we have worked to raise the standards of professional consulting in the construction industry. Our industry professionals have a thorough understanding of the complexities involved in modern infrastructure and building maintenance. 

We are dedicated to providing a high level of service and support to our customers and do everything possible to deliver groundbreaking solutions to meet their needs. Contact us today to learn more about our full-scale load testing services.

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Notable Projects

  • Moorings Park Bldg A, Naples, FL
  • Carnegie Library, Washington, DC
  • Kimpton Hotel Palomar, Chicago, IL
  • Falls Points Apartments, Durham, NC
  • Camilla Hubert Hall, Savannah, GA

Notable Projects

  • Moorings Park Bldg A, Naples, FL
  • Carnegie Library, Washington, DC
  • Kimpton Hotel Palomar, Chicago, IL
  • Falls Points Apartments, Durham, NC
  • Camilla Hubert Hall, Savannah, GA
ecs field techs