Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!
  • Students Click Here

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here


Void forms under grade beams

Void forms under grade beams

Void forms under grade beams

I have a one story building in the Houston area where the geotechnical engineer is telling me that they don't want void forms under the grade beams supporting the building because they don't want water to get in the voids.  He says to instead to design the grade beams for 1" of uplift.  
I have not seen grade beams designed without void forms underneath.  That means that the peirs will have to be designed for some uplift load from the swelling soil.  Has anyone had any experience designing grade beams without void forms?

RE: Void forms under grade beams

For your design I would design it for gravity considering that the void forms are there (just in case there is settlement of the soil) and then check it for a reverse load condition that would create 1" of camber in the beam.  Grade beams without void boxes are pretty common in the rest of the country without swelling soils.  Its almost like a trench footing, except it hits a pier every 30 ft or so.
And, yes you should check the pier for D+H load combination that could create a tension, although it doesn't seem likely you'll be lifted out of the ground unless you have a very light building.

RE: Void forms under grade beams

Any chance you could use closed-cell compressible joint material below the grade beam?

Closed-cell material will not absorb or transmit water, and will not transmit soil heave pressures to the bottom of the grade beam.

Just a thought.  

RE: Void forms under grade beams

I've done reports on gradebeams that have heaved due to ice forming in the void; it's not common.

I ususally spec a material called 'Frost Cushion'; it's a closed cell foam material that is cut to minimise the uplift.  Foam materials often have a crushing strength of 5-10 psi which adds up...


RE: Void forms under grade beams

lkjh345...Do you have a spec for a closed-cell compressible material to use in this situation?  Have you had any adverse effects?

RE: Void forms under grade beams


As I think about this problem. I realize that expansion joint material would not work at all. It would not support the weight of the wet concrete.

A bad idea from me. Glad others have good ideas.  

RE: Void forms under grade beams


I think your geotech may be a bit off base here.  Tell me...how in the world does the presence, or non-presence, of void forms allow water to get to the underlying soils?  I see no difference.  If there is water draining into the area, then the voids won't add to the presence of the water in the surrounding soils.  They simply provide a reservoir for the water...but the water would have been in the soil materials regardless.

I've used void forms under grade beams in the San Antonio area and never had a problem.


RE: Void forms under grade beams

Frost heave is not an issue in the Houston area.

RE: Void forms under grade beams

It could have nothing to do with frost heave. Water will wash the surrounding soil into the void. Our details usually show some type of soil retainer on either side of the void forms. If you picture a 14" wide trench and a 10" wide void form, you get 2" of concrete on each side. Contractors would then pour a  lean concrete just deep enough to bury the void form. That way any rain won't destroy the void forms. The grade beams are then reinforced and the structural concrete is placed.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members!


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close