Void, Void in pipe bedding, concrete pipe, pipe bedding, internal pipe moment, pipe joint failure


Large diameter concrete pipes have been used in many areas of central Florida to carry pressured sewage flow. These pipes have been typically located at six feet below finished roadway elevation, and ranges in diameter from thirty six to sixty inches. The water table is typically located at shallow depth below finished roadway elevation, and generally fluctuates between five to ten feet depending on the relative roadway elevation to mean sea level. These pipes are under pressure when carrying the sewage flow, but return to normal atmospheric pressures when the flow stops. Since the water table encases most of the pipe circumference, no leaks is developed from the water table to the pipe when the pipe is under pressure. Once the pressure in the pipes returns to zero, the water starts seeping into the pipe while washing the subgrade with it into the pipe's interior. The subgrade washes into the pipe at the joint inverts between adjacent pieces of the pipe, since the invert is where the most tension exists in the joint under the weight of the soil and traffic loading above the pipe, making it the most probable location where a gap in the joint would form. This would cause the origination of a small void under the pipe, which creates pressure redistribution in the subgrade reaction under the pipe. As the void develops in the middle third of the bedding under the invert, pressure redistribution occurs to the outer two thirds of the bedding. As the stress increases in the outer portions of the bedding, more subgrade material is washed into the pipe when it is not under pressure, making the void larger. As the void becomes large, the moment in the pipe is greatly increased, and therefore the gap in the joint is increased due to the tension increase at the bottom of the pipe. More material is allowed into the pipe, and the void becomes deeper as fewer restrictions are encountered between the water table and the empty pipe. As the pipe becomes pressurized, more subgrade material is disturbed by the leak from the inside of the pipe to the outside, and void is constantly generated. The void then leads to the continuous settlement of the roadway. It is intended by this study to model the stresses in the subgrade around the pipe using a finite element software to determine the effects of void in the pipe's bedding on the stress around the pipe's outer perimeter. The stresses calculated as a result of the void will then be used in determining the increase in internal moment created in the pipe as the void is generated and became larger and deeper. Average stresses on the top and bottom of the pipe were calculated due to the soil profile dead load and live load caused by loading the soil profile with one and two HS-20 trucks. The average stresses were recalculated after the addition of void in the pipe bedding. The void width and depth were varied to come up with the case that would generate the highest unbalanced load on the pipe. The average bottom stress was subtracted from the average top stress to determine the unbalanced load on the pipe that would cause an internal moment in the pipe. At the most critical case, a forty kilo pounds per foot moment was caused by the existence of the void under the sixty inch diameter pipe used in the model. Such a moment is large to be resisted by either the pipe alone or the pipe reinforced by an additional structural support, unless such support is accompanied by void decrease and a mean to stop the subgrade from eroding into the pipe.


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Graduation Date





Kuo, Shiou-San


Master of Science in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering








Release Date

May 2005

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)