Building Design and Construction

Adjusting Lintels

Lintels supported on the steel frame (sometimes called shelf angles) may be permanently fastened in the shop to the supporting spandrel beam, or they may be attached so as to allow adjustment in the field (see Fig. 7.9, p. 7.21). In the former case, the final position is solely dependent on the alignment obtained for the spandrel itself, whereas for the latter, lintels may be adjusted to line and grade independently of the spandrel. Field adjustment is the general rule for all multistory structures. Horizontal alignment is obtained by using slotted holes in the connection clip angles. Vertical elevation (grade) is obtained with shims.
When walls are of masonry construction, a reasonable amount of variation in the position of lintels may be absorbed without much effort by masons. So the erector can adjust the lintels immediately following the permanent fastening of the spandrels to the columns. This procedure is ideal for the steel erector, because it allows him to complete his contract without costly delays and without interference with other trades. Subsequent minor variations in the position of the lintels, because of deflection or torsional rotation of the spandrel when subjected to deadweight of the floor slab, are usually absorbed without necessitating further lintel adjustment.
With lightweight curtain walls, however, the position of the lintels is important, because large paneled areas afford less latitude for variation. As a rule, the steel erector is unable to adjust the lintels to the desired accuracy at the time the main framework is erected. If the erector has contracted to do the adjusting, this work must wait until the construction engineer establishes the correct lines and grades.
In the usual case, floor slabs are concreted immediately after the steelwork is inspected and accepted. The floor grades then determined become the base to which the lintels can be adjusted. At about the same time, the wall contractor has scaffolds in place, and by keeping pace with wall construction, the steel erector, working from the wall scaffolds, adjusts the lintels.
In some cases, the plans call for concrete encasement of the spandrel beams, in which case concreting is accomplished with the floor slab. The construction engineer should ensure that the adjustment features provided for the lintels are not frozen in the concrete. One suggestion is to box around the details, thus avoiding chopping out concrete. In some cases, it may be possible to avoid the condition entirely by locating the connection below the concrete encasement, where the adjustment is always accessible.

The whole operation of lintel adjustment is one of coordination between the several trades. That this be carried out in an orderly fashion is the duty of the  construction engineer. Furthermore, the desired procedure should be carefully spelled out in the job specifications so that erection costs can be estimated fairly.
Particularly irksome to the construction engineer is the lintel located some distance below the spandrel and supported on flexible, light steel hangers. This detail can be troublesome because it has no capacity to resist torsion. Avoid this by developing the lintel and spandrel to act together as a single member.
Protection of steel surfaces has been, since the day steel was first used, a vexing problem for the engineers, paint manufacturers, and maintenance personnel. Over the years, there have been many developments, the result of numerous studies and research activities. Results are published in the ‘‘Steel Structures Painting Manual.’’ This work is in two volumes—Vol. 1, ‘‘Good Painting Practice,’’ and Vol. II, ‘‘Systems and Specifications’’ (Steel Structures Painting Council, 40 24th Street, Suite 600, Pittsburgh, PA 15213). Each of the paint systems covers the method of cleaning surfaces, types of paint to be used, number of coats to be applied, and techniques to be used in their applications. Each surface treatment and paint system is identified by uniform nomenclature, e.g., Paint System Specification SSPC-PS7.00- 64T, which happens to be the identity of the minimum-type protection as furnished for most buildings.

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