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Re: Fused braces: poor use of term?

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Scott wrote: ". .   .  the beam has significant more capacity (as it goes
into the safety factor and ductile range), yet we as structural engineers
still refer to that as a failure, so to speak, which does create some
confusion among lay-people."

Not me.  That's needless confusion.  I object to the use of the term "fail"
in that context also.  Perhaps it's my perspective, since my focus is mainly
on repair and strengthening of old buildings.  I might call it highly
stressed or, sometimes, overstressed, or sometimes even magical [as in 2x4
rafters at 32" spanning 12 feet and appearing to be as straight as an
arrow], but I'd never call it failure if it hasn't failed.

Buildings built 50 to 100 years ago, or more, are bound to have structural
elements that would be overstressed if evaluated by modern criteria.
Nevertheless, they are doing fine, they are standing the test of time, and I
would be in error if I were to say that they are failing or have failed.
Unless they are broken, distorted, pose seismic hazards, or the owner plans
changes that will result in higher-than-historic loadings, I generally will
not recommend structural modifications to structural members that would be
considered overstressed if analyzed using a modern building code.

I will make sure that the owner understands in what ways the building will
not comply with the current building code.  But, [almost] no one ever wants
to spend the money to bring an old building into compliance with the new
code, and I won't try to convince them otherwise by saying that the
structure is failing if it's not.

Nels Roselund
Structural Engineer
South San Gabriel, CA

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