Why Modern Buildings are Prone to Cracks Compared to Old Buildings?

Modern buildings being the contemporary design and old buildings are understood as traditional buildings. For most of the people it is just the matter of test or choice. Nowadays, with the modern technology it has been possible to construct a building with the traditional look. However, while constructing a modern building you need to take care so many minute details and if all these details not followed properly then it is bound to happen some flaws in modern building. In this article we have given an overview of the minute details you need to take care while construction a modern building.

Comparatively, modern buildings are more prone to cracks being tall and slender or large in volume and also have thin walls particularly external walls.  Nowadays, almost all modern buildings are designed to take higher stress and additionally they are built at a fast pace. Whereas old buildings were designed for under stress and also built at a slow pace. Design of modern building also includes the use of various decorative materials & modern technology. Modern buildings are therefore, more crack prone as compared to old buildings which used to be low and also had low thicker walls.

Moreover, it is likely that moisture from rain can easily enter and spoil the finishes of the newly constructed buildings, which has thin walls. Thus measures for control of cracks in buildings have assumed much greater importance on account of the present trends in construction.

Also Read: Classification of Cracks: Nature-wise, Width-wise & Shape-wise Nature Wise
Old vs New Building Construction

7 Causes for Occurrence of Cracks in Modern Buildings

Cracks mostly result from strains which induce tensile stress in excess of the material’s capacity. To prevent or minimise the occurrence of structural cracks or non-structural cracks, it is necessary to understand the basic mechanism and causes of cracks, and certain properties of building materials.

The principle mechanism causing non-structural cracks and structural cracks in buildings are:

01. Moisture Change

Moisture movements in construction materials cause expansion and shrinkage of materials. This expansion and shrinkage of materials develops stress in the building elements which may causes the cracks.

02. Thermal Movement

Most of the construction materials have tendency to expand on heating and contract on cooling. This expansion and contraction causes a stress in the building elements. If this stress exceeds its allowable limit (limit of the any element is already been fixed during designing phase), it may cause cracks in the building. Moreover, sometimes these cracks may appear to be a serious nature.

03. Elastic Deformation

The construction materials itself undergo deformation due to the load (hooks law). If the loading exceeds then the acceptable limit, then the building elements gets cracked.

04. Creep

During the service life, structure has to sustain many loads other than its own self weight. Due to this loads a time dependent deformation is caused which may results in to the cracks.

05. Chemical Reaction

Occasionally, the sulphate attack the concrete elements of the building which may results in expansion in volume of concrete. This expansion may causes cracks in the concrete elements of the building.

06. Foundation Movement & Settlement of Soil

Frequent drying and wetting of soil or swelling and shrinkage of expansive soil cause the movements of foundation which may tilt the structure or may result into the cracks. Frequently the factor of safety is considered low at the time of design of foundation, which may also be the reason of cracks in the building. Unequal soil baring pressure may also cause the movements of the building and may result into the cracks. Cracks developed due to settlement should not take lightly.

07. Growth of Vegetation

Sometimes the vegetation grows on the wall of the building. The roots of vegetation causes cracks in the wall. Frequently the roots of fast-growing tree near the building gets underneath the building and causes the movement which may also be the reason of cracks.

Strain develops due to excess loads, restraint of volume changes, or material behaviour. Volume changes generally occur due to changes in temperature and moisture. Influences on material behaviour include freeze-thaw cycles and reactions between cement and aggregate.

Overloads mostly arises due to the dead (self) weight of materials, the live load of equipment and people, soil and water pressure as well as wind, snow, and earthquakes can also  produces cracks.

Deflections and deformations imposed by foundations, frames, roof slabs, and other structural elements also cause cracking (it might cause structural cracks too).

Also Read:
Know the Causes of your Foundation Cracks
Causes of Corrosion of Reinforcement Steel in Concrete

Comparison of New build vs Old Building

Generally old buildings are built with large and spacious areas and they are also environment friendly. Old buildings are constructed using minimum energy and they used to create less waste compare to the modern buildings.

Old buildings are built with thicker wall which makes them strong and durable. Nowadays, almost all modern buildings are made with thin partition wall or partition board which are more prone to the cracks and they do not ensure the longer life of the buildings. Old buildings comprise strong base and they are built with better quality of materials.

Generally, trees are planted minimum two metre away from the periphery of the old building, so the roots or any other part of trees will not affect the building in future.

Modern buildings have amenities like gymnasium, swimming pool on upper floor, inside car parking, etc. which make them very complex structure while designing. Though the modern buildings are designed for each load, sometimes the faulty design and drawing, bad construction materials, poor construction practices, etc. may lead to the problems like cracks, corrosion, etc.

From the aforementioned comparison of new building vs old buildings, we can say that modern buildings are more prone to cracks compared to the old buildings. Nowadays so many old buildings are being renovated or restored to get the maximum economic benefits from them. Do you live in old or modern building, share your stories or experiences.

Must Read:
Reasons behind Cracks in Plaster: An Incredibly easy Guide
Types & Summary of Cracks in Reinforced Concrete Column
Types & Summary of Cracks in Reinforced Concrete Beam
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