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Types of Cracks in Concrete Beams

Cracks in beams due to increased shear stress

Cracks in concrete beams due to increase in shear stress appears near the support such
as wall or column. These cracks are also called as shear crack and are inclined at 45
degrees with the horizontal.

These cracks in beams can be avoided by providing additional shear reinforcements

near the support where the shear stress is maximum. Shear stress is maximum at a
distance of d/2 from the support where d is the effective depth of beam.

Cracks in concrete beams due to corrosion or

insufficient concrete cover
Generally beams are provided with slab at the top, so top of the beam is not exposed
to environment. Bottom of the beam are exposed to environment and if the cover to
reinforcement in insufficient, then corrosion of reinforcement takes place. So, cracks
due to corrosion of reinforcement appear at the bottom of the beam.

These cracks generally appear near the side face of the beam near the bottom
reinforcement along the its length as shown in figure below.

Cracks due to reinforcement corrosion can cause spalling of concrete in severe cases
and can be prevented by good quality control during its construction by providing
adequate rebar cover as per environmental conditions.
Cracks parallel to main steel in case of corrosion in
These cracks also appear due to corrosion of reinforcement but at the bottom face of
the beam. These appear parallel to main reinforcements at the bottom.

The cause of this corrosion is also due to provision of insufficient reinforcement cover
which leads to corrosion of main reinforcement.

Cracks due to increased bending stress in beams

Cracks due to increased bending stress in beams appear near the center of span of the
beam at an angle of 45 degree with horizontal as the bending moment is maximum at
that point.

If the reinforcement provided is insufficient for the load the beam is exposed to,
bending stress increases which leads to increased deflection at the middle span of

Cracks due to increased bending moment can be prevented by providing adequate

main reinforcement at the midspan of beam. Care should be taken during design of
beam to consider all the probable loads and load combinations for its design.

Under-reinforced section of beam is the main cause of this crack.

Cracks due to compression failure in beams
Cracks due to compression failure in beams appear a the top if the beam is over
reinforced. In case of over-reinforcement, the beam has the capacity to bear higher
bending stress, but at the same time, if the top reinforcement provided is insufficient
to carry the compressive stress, the top of the beam gets cracked.

This type of failure can be prevented by designing a balanced section in which the
capacity of beam in compression is capable of carrying additional compressive stress.