Building Thermal Movement: Everything in a building moves

We tend to think of buildings as static creations.

Sure, doors and windows may move, elevators and escalators go up and down, water runs through pipes, air through ducts, and fans turn on and off. But we tend to think of the structure, the walls, the floors, and the roof as fixed components that do not move. In fact, they all do move. They expand and contract at different rates in response to changes in temperature and/or humidity. Bricks and wood swell with moisture absorption; concrete shrinks as it cures; aluminum expands at a much higher rate than steel under the same temperature increase. Some movement is reversible; other movement is not. Much of this movement is imperceptible until the forces of expansion or contraction result in a visible scar like a crack in a wall or broken glass or water damage. Alas, the rewards for successfully accommodating building movement are not usually published.

Posted in Construction Documents, Design

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