Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dallas Cowboy's indoor practice field collapses

This can happen to your home! Here is how to avoid a catastrophe.

Today, around 3:30 pm CST, my favorite professional football team's indoor practice field came apart at the seams. Although there were several people injured, some badly, there fortunately were no casualties.

How could this structural failure have happened?

I am not a professional structural engineer. And at the present time, no one probably knows specifically what caused the collapse. But, there are some things that I know might be the cause of today's calamity. The same things could happen to your home.

Go to this web site, scroll down to the video and what it at:|wbml-aol|dl1|link1|

Notice that there are a bunch of metal supports that look like metal match sticks that are placed into a series of rectangle frames along the outer sides of the structure. They are all leaning to one direction. This is called "racking." It can be prevented by putting more metal supports from one corner of the rectangle diagonally to the opposite corner. If your home is built with 2 x 4 studs, then there should be horizontal members between the studs to keep them from deforming.

Even though the winds were not at tornado force speed (75 to over 100 mph), there were gusts up to 60 mph around this structure today. There was nothing to block this wind from smashing up against this indoor facility. This inflatable fabric balloon building is in the middle of a flat field with no buildings or trees nearby. It was less protected from the strong winds than a whirling trailer home in a sand storm. At least plan to have planting around your home to shield it from the wind.

Perhaps the structure was structurally designed to withstand an uplifting force, but if a strong wind entered into a tear in the fabric skin or through an open access portal, it is possible that the wind pressure was much higher inside the fabric bubble than what was planned. It was probably like opening up an umbrella on a windy day and it just flops inside out. You probably already know not to open up your patio awnings on windy days though.


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