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Tigen13 t1_iwk7h3i wrote

I am not sure age is much of a factor. All that concrete amounts to tons of dirt acting as a wall. I dont think time erodes them much.

These are just my thoughts. Buildings have beems that can weaken and then cause a collapse. All long as all the weight is there the dams should work. Water being too high and flowing over the dam obviously changes things.


2055265 t1_iwkxzoz wrote

Civil engineer here, age is definitely a factor. Time eats through concrete like any other material. Water will never flow “over” a dam, there are safeties in place, if it does you have much bigger problems.

Also “beems” in building are made of multiple materials, one being concrete. I appreciate the confidence, though.


Tigen13 t1_iwsmo1q wrote

What is the usual life of a dam?

For example the hoover dam is about 80 years old. How much longer will it last or what is done to extend the life?


2055265 t1_iwua3tb wrote

~100 years

The Hoover dam is a bit of an outlier because it is such a large project. The larger the dam the longer the lifespan usually. If cracks in concrete are found they will attempt to fix them by draining the water level for a time. The Hoover dam also contains no rebar which helps a lot for longevity.

Without human intervention the dam would collapse in 3-5 years. With regular service to the turbines but no structural work I’d guess ~50 more years.

But again, the Hoover dam is a huge outlier. We have over 80,000 dams in the US. Most of these dams will be brought to the edge of their lifespan, torn down, and rebuilt rather than repaired or retrofitted.