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Cracks in Structural Concrete

ASCC Position Statement #33

Some concrete professionals believe that reinforced concrete structures should not crack. With that belief, when cracking does occur, they
often claim that the concrete contractor caused the cracks and should pay for repair. Cracks in reinforced concrete, however, are not a defect but are
specifically included as part of the design process. 

Design professionals using ACI 318-08, “Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete,” understand that meeting Code provisions for beams and slabs provides crack control. The Commentary (R10.6.1) states that “structures designed by working stress methods and low steel stress served their intended functions with very limited flexural cracking. When highstrength reinforcing steels are used at high service load stresses, however, visible cracks should be expected.” The Commentary section below illustrates the typical crack width:

R10.6.4 Crack widths in structures are highly variable. In Codes before the 1999 edition, provisions were given for distribution of reinforcement that were based on empirical equations using a calculated maximum crack width of 0.016 in. The current provisions for spacing are intended to limit surface cracks to a width that is generally acceptable in practice but may vary widely in a given structure.

That section further states that:

Research shows that corrosion is not clearly correlated with surface crack widths in the range normally found with reinforcement stresses at service load levels.

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