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Old 04-16-2010, 01:21 PM   #1
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precautions of going larger...

so as some of you know im setting up my 90 tomorrow!

we have also been house shopping.... at what point do i have to start reinforcing the floor? what if its a co-op / condo and there are people below us?
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Old 04-16-2010, 01:48 PM   #2
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You`ll probably need to get the structual or engineering plans.
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Old 04-16-2010, 01:58 PM   #3
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+1

I figure a running aquarium weighs roughly 10lb per gallon. There's a safety factor built in there, but it's better to go conservative.
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Old 04-16-2010, 02:02 PM   #4
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No basement?
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Old 04-16-2010, 02:06 PM   #5
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No basement?
we are currently in a basement apartment... thats why we are looking.. we are tired of having bearly any windows!

the places we are looking at are "garden apartments" (co-ops/condos)... if we get a first floor, i suppose i could make friends with the owners and reinforce the floor.... but if we get a second floor, i doubt the people living below us would want columns running through their living room.... somehow i dont think they would understand...
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:45 PM   #6
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This article at the link below seemed to be a throrough discussion of all the things you need to consider.. The author states at the beginning of the article that he is a structural engineer.
http://www.african-cichlid.com/Structure.htm
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Old 04-18-2010, 10:56 AM   #7
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Personally, I don't think anything shy of 200+ will make much of an impact as you are spreading the weight out over the floor. Think about it this way, how many people worry about adding a water bed?

Of course, that is just IMO... if you are moving into an old house, one with possible wood rot or termites, that of course changed everything!
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Old 04-26-2010, 02:44 PM   #8
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You are looking at about 1000 pounds there with the tank full and filter and stand. This is significant weight in an area which has a pretty small footprint. Most 90 gallons are 48" across and 18 inches deep. Doing a little bit of simple math, you can expect a load of about 166 pounds per square foot of floor area.

That is going to be well in excess of the designed limit which is between 40-60 pounds per foot for residential construction. The closer you place the tank to an exterior or load bearing wall the better. Placing a heavy point load like an aquarium mid-span is where the real problems are since the floor will deflect considerably under the weight.

The reinforcing necessary most likely won't be a column, but rather additional joists to carry the load of the aquarium to the column/foundation or other structural component. These components would not have to be considered under most circumstances. As stated above, the floor is designed to carry 60 pounds per foot, thus a 300 square foot room is designed to put 18,000 square feet of load on the structural members. Your aquarium doesn't weigh that much in the whole scheme of things.

Aquariums however are much different than water beds as previously stated. Aquariums are point loads moreso than a water bed, meaning that their load is isolated to one particular location whereas a water bed has the load over a much larger area. For this reason, its spreads the load to more of the 60 pounds per square foot than an aquarium would.

Keep in mind that reinforcing an already built and concealed building is quite destructive in nature. You CAN access the joists from the top, in your own unit. You also have the option to spread the load out more by building a bigger frame for the aquarium to sit on.

I would be happy to help you anyway that I can, just send me a PM if you are interested.

Oh, and by the way I am an Architect, and what I have said in no way makes me liable for damages that may be caused by installation of the aquarium. Seek professional help to truely resolve the issue. (keeps the insurance man happy)
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:10 PM   #9
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That was an interesting article. I just did the math on a 55 gallon tank, and it seems that it exceeds the 40 pounds per square foot by a good bit.

The article says that most floors have a safety factor of 1.5 to 2 built in. Assume a 55 gallon tank weighs 550 pounds, and has a footprint of 6 square feet. [(48X18) / (12X12)] = 6. That gives you 91 pounds per square foot, well over the 1.5 to 2 safety margin.

Jcarlilesiu, I guess there's a curve by which you can exceed the saftey margin? Meaning that, to a point, you can exceed the saftey margin to a larger degree in a small area than you could in a larger area?
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:12 PM   #10
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I would think that if your on the first floor and theres no basement then youll be on a concrete slab. atleast thats how the houses are out this way.
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:23 PM   #11
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You really want to find out which way the joists run, and make sure you are running the tank perpendicular to the joists. Also, obviously put the tank near the wall and not in the middle of the floor. as far as spilling water goes, you will. Keep some microfiber towels handy.
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jestes View Post
Jcarlilesiu, I guess there's a curve by which you can exceed the saftey margin? Meaning that, to a point, you can exceed the saftey margin to a larger degree in a small area than you could in a larger area?
Jestes,

I wouldn't count on the safety margin at all. The safety margin is completely discretionary by the designer. The minimum pound/sq ft rating is established by the building code. I can tell you that when I design houses, I usually include a safety factor, but I certainly wouldn't count on it.

As far as being able to exceed the loading design based on room size. I think you might have slightly misunderstood me. Lets use some real world examples for conversation purposes.

Lets assume that we have a room that is 5'x5' and the perimeter of the room is supported to the foundation at all sides. Lets assume that the floor is framed with 2x6s spaced at 12" and that this floor can hold (actual) 80 pounds per square foot without deflecting (sagging) more than 1/2" at the center when the aquarium is placed in the center of the room.

Alternatively, there is a second room that is 20'x20' and is framed with 2x10s and spaced at 16". This floor is designed to hold (actual) 65 pounds per foot. The same aquarium is placed in the center of this room, and due to the longer span, and the less rating, this floor will deflect 1 full inch.

The third room is 40'x40', framed with 2x12s at 12" o.c. and has a beam running down the middle. This floor is designed for 70 pounds per square foot. When the aquarium is placed in the center of the room, the floor doesn't deflect at all (due to the beam).

Thus, the room size doesn't matter, but the components used to frame that room do.

Typically, due to the smaller span in smaller rooms, the floor will deflect LESS than in larger rooms. This is simply becuase the span is less but there are alot of factors to consider.

It comes down to how the rooms floor transfers the load to the earth or structural components. A very small room may not have ANY structural members at the perimeter and will deflect more than a larger room with a beam. Thus, room size doesn't matter.

To carry on slightly further, think about a 2x4 spanning between 2 concrete blocks on the ground. The farther apart those blocks are, the more the 2x4 will bounce. It always will bend the most in the center of the span.

Due to framing standards, and the fact that most houses maintain the biggest floor framing required for the biggest span, most small areas of floor have really really over sized floor framing. Thus, typically, yes smaller span is gong to be the strongest.

Take our blocks and 2x4 again. Place another block on top of the 2x4, but very close to one of the blocks at the end. It won't cause the 2x4 to sag that badly as compared to placing the block ontop of the 2x4 in the center of the span.

For this reason, typically smaller framed areas, with the aquarium placed closest to the structural bearing point are optimum.

I hope this wasn't too confusing. Hard to do on a forum and with so many variables to consider.
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:33 PM   #13
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granted, a concrete slab would be the best scenario...

jcarlilesiu: i was just thinking about the 40-60 lbs/sq ft....... i wear a size 12 shoe and im 210 lbs.... so with some guessing on the size of my shoes (didnt have a ruler)... standing on both feet i take up just under 1 sq/ft of floor space... wouldnt that mean i am exerting 210/sq foot? thats much more then my tank would... no?

im an analyst, not an architect
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:43 PM   #14
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jcarlilesiu: i was just thinking about the 40-60 lbs/sq ft....... i wear a size 12 shoe and im 210 lbs.... so with some guessing on the size of my shoes (didnt have a ruler)... standing on both feet i take up just under 1 sq/ft of floor space... wouldnt that mean i am exerting 210/sq foot? thats much more then my tank would... no?

im an analyst, not an architect
Ahh, but you have found yet two more variables.

The plywood that you stand on that makes up your sub-floor transfers some of that weight to surrounding joists. The thicker the sub-floor, the more ability for the lateral transfer of your weight to surrounding framing members. Thus, when that load is distributed to 2 more joists around you, the load caused by your weight does not exceed the maximum for the area. An aquarium will spread its load to surrounding joists as well, but due to the fact that the aquarium weighs 5 times as much as you, all framing members carrying the load are being exceeded in the affected area.

Does that mean that once you hit 65 pounds Lbs/Ft2 that the floor will collapse. No, variable 2.

Variable 2: Put another 100 guys your size in your house all standing 1 square foot apart, and stand there for 5 years. Your floor would be hugely deflected over time. If you could place a ball on the floor, it would roll to the center of the room... even AFTER all of your twins left. This is because wood framing has great tensile properties, meaning that they respond to tension well. A floor joist is both in tension and compression. Wood does though start to take on the shape of that deflection as the tensile strength wears on the members over time when the excess load stays in place. The wood will warp eventually and will not "recoil" once the load is removed.

This is damage to the structure even though there wasn't a total failure.

Hope that makes sense.
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:48 PM   #15
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absolute sense actually..... didnt think of taking the subflooring into consideration....

hmmm... so basically i need the architectural plans, supposing they can be found, before a final decision could be made.... but generally not a good idea?
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:27 PM   #16
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jcarlilesiu, this is some fantastic information. I've been looking for some of this information for a while. Does this apply across the country or just Chicago? I know Cook County has some of the toughest building codes in the world.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:42 PM   #17
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absolute sense actually..... didnt think of taking the subflooring into consideration....

hmmm... so basically i need the architectural plans, supposing they can be found, before a final decision could be made.... but generally not a good idea?
Not necessarily. Do you know which way your framing is running? Is the location where you want to place the aquarium at a load bearing wall with direct load transfer to the foundation? Will the tank be perpendicular to the joists? How far is the span of the joists it will be resting on? How old is the building? Is the floor in a permenant state of deflection now?

If you took some photos of the interior and exterior of the building I might be able to offer up some advice.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:50 PM   #18
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this was just something i had thought about.... we havnt bought a place yet, in the process of looking... so i didnt know if i could be collecting structural plans for each property? lol thats all... thanks for all the help... ill be sure to keep you posted.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:52 PM   #19
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jcarlilesiu, this is some fantastic information. I've been looking for some of this information for a while. Does this apply across the country or just Chicago? I know Cook County has some of the toughest building codes in the world.
BigJim, most jurisdictions use some form of a standardized building code. Weather that be UBC, IBC, or MBC. The larger cities have the ability, and the need, to expand on certain sections of the code as it relates to the specific needs of that jurisdiction. For instance, earthquake codes in California are more explicit than they would be in the generic IBC utilized by a town in Alabama. This is because California expanded on the code for their needs due to higher frequency of earthquakes.

Chicago and Cook County publish their own building code as you stated, but it has its roots in some standard publication I am sure. Pretty much the entire Ordinance in the city is identical to the IBC, they just drafted it themselves, added a few things, deleted a few things, did a few revisions and called it their own.
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:49 PM   #20
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Wow, amazing info. This is exactly what i was looking for. But this would not apply with a 1 story house with a foundation would it?

Here is a side question, how would you go about WERE to reinforce the floor if it needed it?
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