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How to install anchors in accordance with BS 8539:2012

Code of practice for the selection and installation of post-installed
anchors in concrete and masonry. A guide for contractors & installers.
1 Introduction

BS 8539 is arguably the most significant development in the use of construction fixings since the
advent of European Technical Approvals (ETA)1 in 1997. Its introduction was prompted by a
series of failures involving fixings, some resulting in injury or death and many resulting from
failures on the part of contractors or installers.

Causes include;

the changing of specifications without the proposed alternative being subject to a proper
selection process by the specifier and
bad installation practices arising from
o untrained installers
o manufacturers instructions not being followed
o use of the wrong equipment
o criminal negligence such as anchor rods being cut short when rebar is struck.

The BS sets out to address this by setting out all stakeholders roles and responsibilities.

This How to guide summarises the responsibilities of contractors and installers, who will
between them be responsible for getting the right anchors correctly installed, and provides a
degree of additional commentary. It is apart of the CFA 8539 Toolkit available from www.the-
cfa.co.uk. All stakeholders should acquire a copy of the code2. For more advice on anchor
installation see CFA Guidance Note: Anchor installation3 and installation procedures for the most
common generic anchor types CFA Sample Method Statements3.

1.2 Terminology

Terminology used in the code is based largely on that used in ETA, in ETAGs (the Guidelines
used to award ETA) and CEN Technical Specifications4 for anchors. This has resulted in the
adoption of terms and notation not previously used in the industry especially for loads . This issue
is less significant for contractors and installers. For a detailed explanation of the differences
between the new and old terminology see5.

1.3 Responsibilities (BS 8539 Clauses 4.4 and 4.5)

Contractors should ensure that:

the correct anchor is obtained as per the specification

the installer is trained in the correct installation of the specified anchor and is
supervised by a competent supervisor.
any proposal to change the anchor to an alternative is subjected to the full
selection procedure of the BS, clause 10.
the strength of the base material is at least that assumed by the specifier in the
selection of the anchor.
if site tests are called for they are carried out by a competent tester to the
appropriate procedure in the correct location and that results are recorded and
retained in project documentation and communicated to the specifier.
Once the installation is completed, and prior to service loading, the installation
should be certified by the contractors supervisor, as being fit for loading, see
section 3 below.

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Installers should ensure that:

They are trained in anchor installation and familiar with the correct installation
They have the correct anchor, as specified, and the correct drilling & setting tools.
They comply with the manufacturers installation instructions.
If rebar is struck during drilling they do not proceed with the installation but refer
back to the specifier for instructions.
The anchors are installed in the correct locations for the project itself or for site

2 Installation procedures. (BS 8539 Clause 7)

Installation procedures should follow the manufacturers installation instructions.

Typically these will follow the following stages. A commentary is included.

Installation step recd by Commentary

BS 8539 Clause 7.2
Prior to installation check The installer should also check that he is aware of any
that: instructions the specifier has given regarding action to be taken
- the correct anchor is in the event of hitting rebar during drilling. See below.
available as specified and all
necessary setting tools are to
- the concrete (or mortar of
masonry) is at least 28 days
old and, if not, has at least
reached the strength
assumed in the specification.
Drill the hole using the Drills carrying the PGM mark will
correct drill bit to the correct be made to the relevant tolerances.
diameter Drills should not be used once excessively worn.
If hole drilling by diamond drilling is envisaged check with the
anchor manufacturer that this is a satisfactory technique,
especially for resin anchors, and have available any special
measures that may be necessary e.g. roughening.
A depth gauge on the drill facilitates this.
and to the correct depth, Some anchor types are sensitive to hole depth being correct,
usually indicated on some may be installed in holes which are deeper than a
manufacturers instructions minimum.
by h0 and measured to the Most anchor manufacturers quote hole depths associated with
shoulder of the drill (i.e. full the maximum fixture thickness, tfix, so the hole depth needs to
diameter). be increased for thinner fixtures.
Clean the hole to the For metal anchors using a blow out pump reaching to the base
manufacturers instructions. of the hole will be sufficient. For resin bonded anchors most
systems require very thorough hole cleaning using a stiff. round,
metal brush and either a blow out pump, vacuum cleaner or
compressed air line (ensure it passes no oil). Water should be
removed as completely as possible, especially for resin bonded
anchors. For nylon anchors hole cleaning is sometimes not
needed check instructions on packaging.

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Installation step recd by Commentary

BS 8539 Clause 7.2
Use setting tools for the Some anchors look very similar in form and dimensions but
type AND size of anchor from need different setting tools. Drop-in anchors are a good
the anchor manufacturer. example for which the setting punches of same sized anchors
have very different working lengths so using the wrong type may
cause under or over setting.
For bonded anchors allow Injection type bonded anchors will also quote the maximum time
the full curing time (time after the resin has been injected into the hole that the metal
from setting to when the anchor must be inserted into the mixed resin called variously
anchor may be tightened, Gel time, Open time or Setting time. The best approach is
tested or loaded) as stated to insert the anchor immediately after resin is injected into the
on manufacturers packaging. hole this ensures the resin can flow into the thread or shapes
This varies with the formed in the anchor surface and produce a strong bond.
temperature of the base The full curing time stated on packaging will produce something
material and whether the hole like 80 85% of full curing. 100% curing will take much longer.
is wet or dry. Curing times should on no account be shortened as safety
margins may be reduced. Curing times of some resin types may
be increased, doubled even, by wetness of the base material.
Check with the manufacturer.
Tighten to the torque Tightening the anchor to the manufacturers tightening torque
recommended by the will ensure several things:
manufacturer. A) that the clamping force developed through the fixture
exceeds the Recommended Resistance by a sufficient safety
margin so as to cater for the load relaxation that affects all
anchor types, B) that the anchor material is not over stressed
and, for resin anchors, C) that the resin bond is not
overstressed. Installation torques are usually quoted for
concrete, for weaker e.g. masonry materials they should be
reduced in proportion to the reduction in base material strength
or Recommended Resistance (Rec Load).
For anchors with projecting threads deep reach sockets should
be used to ensure the socket can reach the nut in all conditions.
If a torque wrench is not available do not expect all anchors to
take the same amount of turning to achieve the correct
tightness. Anchors set by Tightening (Torque controlled
expansion anchors) usually require three to four full turns
whereas resin bonded anchors need less than a half turn.
Turning the nut in a resin bonded stud by a full turn from finger
tight will tend to pull the threaded stud out of the resin by 1 pitch
of the thread, enough to break the bond. Similarly self-tapping
concrete screws require about a quarter turn from finger tight
and turning by a full turn will again strip the thread.

Other aspects of installation to be considered, as BS 8539 Clause 7.3, include:

For bonded anchors:

Shelf life and storage conditions.

To maintain the shelf life, as quoted by the manufacturer usually on the packaging, resin
material should ideally be stored in cool, dark conditions. If exposed to extremes of
temperatures and excessive light then their useful life may be dramatically reduced. Resin
materials left out in the sun will cure within a relatively short time.

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Using resin materials in wet holes.

Some resin materials do not cure satisfactorily in wet holes, for those which do the
cooling effect of the water will extend the curing time.

So, if wet conditions are unavoidable:

- check that the specified resin is suitable for use in wet conditions
- ensure all dust is removed from the holes before they are allowed to become wet.
- double the curing time
Flooded holes should be thoroughly cleaned to ensure all dust is removed

Hitting rebar.

If, or rather, when rebar is struck during drilling the specifier should be contacted to get his
instructions as to what should be done if he/she has not already specified it in the anchor
specification. One thing which should never be done is to cut anchor rods short.
Possible options may include:
drilling through the rebar with the permission of the responsible engineer i.e.
specifier or designer.
moving the hole by a suitable distance and filling the aborted hole with a strong
non-shrink grout.
The latter option will usually involve redesign of brackets or base plates and reconsideration
of anchor strength and performance taking account of the different anchor spacings etc. It is
not to be undertaken lightly. Either option should only be undertaken following instruction
from the specifier.

Installing anchors in masonry

The sometimes soft nature of some bricks or stones and their relatively small unit size brings the
following possible problems:
Holes may drill oversize in very soft bricks or be subject to spalling within perforated bricks
and hollow blocks. Using a less powerful drill, drilling a pilot hole and drilling on rotary only
may reduce these effects. Some anchors, such as resin anchors, are less affected by
oversized holes.
Some bricks shake loose in the mortar. Drilling on rotary setting may eliminate this.
Certain anchors with high expansion ratios, especially in larger diameters, may crack weaker
Always inspect brickwork closely after drilling, after setting anchors and after testing them for
cracks in bricks and in mortar joints. Report any problems to supervision.

3 Certifying finished installations (BS 8539 Clause 4.6)

A supervisor employed by the contractor is expected to monitor every stage of the installation
and, once all aspects of the installation have been completed and any proof tests satisfactorily
carried out, to certify that the specified anchors have been correctly installed in accordance with
the manufacturers instructions and in the specified locations such that they can be put into
service. A form for this purpose, CFA Form 8539/03 Installation Certificate, is available from the
CFA website go to Guidance Notes and downloads CFA 8539 Forms.
For more information on ETAs see CFA Guidance Note: ETAs and design methods for anchors used in
construction. www.the-cfa.co.uk go to section Guidance Notes and downloads.
For copies of British Standards relating to construction fixings, at a discount of 15%, contact the CFA via
our website www.the-cfa.co.uk.
Go to www.the-cfa.co.uk section Guidance notes and downloads. Specifically Guidance Notes and
Sample Method Statements.
Design methods for anchors with ETA may be contained in CEN Technical Specifications in the series
CEN TS 1992-4 Parts 1 5. (Otherwise they are as the relevant ETAG.)
CFA Guidance Note: Anchor terminology and notation
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