Two casualties succumbed to injuries when a ceiling of a commercial building along Kampala road collapsed in mid-March 2021, the Daily Monitor reported. According to the police, the old building collapsed because of a lack of renovation.
Experts told the Daily Monitor that the age of a building, the weight exerted on it, and the construction materials used may all contribute to why ceilings collapse.
1. Age of the Building
Engineer Joseph Oryang urges experts to examine long-standing residential or commercial buildings for any cracks in sections, such as ceilings.
“Some buildings were set up when there was not much regulation. The builders do a lot of decorative or shoddy work outside, making it hard to notice what is done within the ceiling body. The only way to curb collapses is through regular maintenance,” Mr. Oryang told the Daily Monitor.
2. Materials Used
Oryang said that usually, metal and wood are the building materials used in ceilings. Wood withers away when eaten by pests, while metal that rusts may become brittle and eventually collapse.
“Sometimes, the metal or woodwork could have been poorly constructed. If you have a wooden ceiling framework and the ceiling was plastered, it will be heavy if it was not adequately supported. If the metals were not treated, they would rust over time. It may not collapse immediately, but over time, it would because of wear and tear factors,” Oryang told the Daily Monitor.
3. The Exerted Weight
According to Oryang, the ceiling load may exceed the structure’s capacity to support it all in some situations. While in other cases, builders connect central air conditioning ducts to a concrete slab under the ceiling. They use screws and wall plugs to do this. When the air conditioning system under the concrete slab falls, it pulls down the roof with it.
Architect Emmanuel Kyeyune explains that if they don’t design a ceiling support system well, the ceiling will eventually collapse.
“There are technicians who widen gaps within the ceiling timber and use a lot of sand and casting acts as a load against the timber. As years go by, the sand and cement weight becomes heavy for the side supporting the structure, and it eventually collapses,” Mr. Kyeyune explains to the Daily Monitor.
Mr. Oryang and Mr. Kyeyune both agree that paying attention to structural design helps to avoid ceiling collapse. Unfortunately, many building owners consider ceilings to be trivial. Consequently, they don’t seek advice from engineers in order to save money. People sometimes get away with it in the near-term, but later have a ceiling collapse that results in death.
“A ceiling must be professionally and technically secured, just like the foundation, because it carries a load that is always connected to the supporting structure,” Kyeyune concludes.
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