Methodology / Analysis & Design Assumptions

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Methodology / Analysis & Design Assumptions

References used for the development of this program are listed in Appendix E.


Stem design material is limited to concrete, because it is impractical to construct a tapered wall with concrete masonry units. Design strength of concrete may be specified.


Conventional "heel" and "toe" terminology is used, whereby the "heel" side of the wall supports the retained earth. In this program, the "heel" distance is measured from the front face of the stem.


Concrete design for stem and footing is based upon ultimate strength design (SD) using factored loads. Factors for various building codes will be displayed on the Load Factors page, and may be edited. Since they are editable, be sure to check them before starting a design since you may have changed them.


Where stem thickness varies, it is assumed that the front face (toe side) of the stem is flush, and the change in thickness occurs on the heel side.


A geotechnical engineer will typically have determined design criteria (equivalent fluid pressure, allowable soil bearing pressure, sliding coefficient, etc.). If this is not the case, you can enter the angle of internal friction for the soil, and the program will compute the corresponding active pressure, using the Coulomb formulas based upon the soil density and backfill slope you have specified. If the Coulomb method is chosen, passive pressure will be based upon the Rankine Formula, assuming a level toe-side backfill.


Global stability is not checked.


Horizontal temperature/shrinkage reinforcing is at the discretion of the designer and is not computed by the program. For horizontal temperature and shrinkage reinforcing for various stems see Appendix A.


Axial loads may be applied to the top of the stem but it is recommended that they do not exceed about 3,000 lbs to avoid reversal of heel bending moment. Slenderness interaction reductions for cantilevered walls are not calculated since h/t ratios are typically less than about 12. Only "positive" eccentricities from the centerline of the top stem are accepted (i.e. toward the toe), since negative eccentricity could lead to unconservative results.


Excessively high axial loads are not anticipated by the program and should not be applied if they would cause tension in the bottom of the footing heel – the program assumes typical retaining wall conditions where the heel moment causes tension at the top of the footing. If a design requires a very high axial load, say, over 3 kips/lf, it is suggested to use footing design software or hand calculations.


Critical section for bending in the footing is at the face of the concrete stem. For shear, the critical section is a distance "d" from the face of the stem toward the toe, and at the face of the stem for the heel. The program does not calculate toe or heel bar development lengths inward from the face of the stem (where the moment is maximum). When selecting and detailing the arrangement of toe and heel bars this should be considered. Refer to Appendix B for development lengths in concrete, which can be adjusted for the stress level.


The program calculates the bending in the key and determines whether reinforcing is required. For determining section modulus, 3" is deducted from the key width per ACI recommendation. If reinforcing is required, a message will appear. You can then change the key dimensions until the message disappears, or use the rebar suggestions displayed. The key moment and shear is produced by the passive resisting pressure acting against the key.


Slab restraint at the base can be specified on the Footing > Key Design & Sliding Options tab. The program only allows this restraint to occur at the top of the footing – not higher.