Inspection of Concrete and Masonry Dams

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COURSE DESCRIPTION – Inspection of Concrete and Masonry Dams

This course introduces the basic principles of concrete and masonry dam inspection. It is estimated that there are about 80,000 dams in the US, many of which are reaching the end of their expected useful lives. With the inventory of aging dams, maintenance and inspection become more critical. At the same time, the useful life of a many newer dams may be extended by regular maintenance of deficiencies which can be discovered during routine inspections.

The content of this course is a workbook titled “Inspection of Concrete and Masonry Dams” and a short video, both produced by FEMA. Engineers, dam owners, dam safety officials and maintenance contractors will gain an understanding from this course of the areas to be inspected on concrete or masonry dams according to FEMA recommended practices. Additionally, this course could be useful as a guide for training for a concrete or masonry dam inspection.

The date of creation of the course material is not shown. References to video cassette tapes seem to indicate the 1990’s. A short section (2 pages) on monitoring is limited to 1990’s technology. Otherwise, the basic principles of inspecting concrete and masonry dams remain unchanged and relevant. The workbook suggests going back and forth from the workbook to the video. This course and quiz are arranged so that the student can go through the workbook before or after viewing the video.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end and is intended to provide 7 hours of professional development.

Course Author: Federal Emergency Management Agency et. al.


At the conclusion of this course, the student will have learned or been exposed to the following:

  • Concrete Dam Characteristics
  • Types of Concrete Dams
  • Masonry Dams
  • Concrete and Masonry Dam Construction
  • Concrete Dam Joints, Interior Features, and Water Conveyance Structures
  • Dam Inspection Techniques
  • Documenting and Reporting
  • Deficiency Sighting Techniques
  • Inspecting Dam Interior
  • Inspecting Upstream and Downstream of Dam
  • Inspecting for Deficiencies
  • Characteristics of Dam Cracks
  • Types of Cracks (Structural, Shrinkage, D-Cracking)
  • Crack Surveying
  • Concrete Deterioration
  • Causes of Deterioration
  • Surface Mapping
  • Inspecting for Deterioration
  • Surface Defects
  • Impact Damage
  • Inspecting for Surface Defects
  • Displacement
  • Misalignment
  • Differential Movement
  • Leakage and Seepage
  • Maintenance Concerns
  • Debris and Undesirable Vegetation
  • Previous Repairs
  • Environmental Conditions

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