How will SIP foundations stand up to a flooded basement?
Last Post 07 Dec 2006 06:24 PM by wes. 12 Replies.
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WannaBuildWithSIPSUser is Offline
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28 Nov 2006 08:09 PM
We'll be breaking ground for our new 2400 ft2 home next spring when the ground thaws.  It's pretty much a done deal that we'll be building the walls with SIPs.  I've been considering SIPs for the Foundations as well.  The Thermapan website has some pretty good videos that do a pretty good job convincing one that wood Foundations are viable.  The even go so far as to use the wood pillars supporting the buildings in Venice.  These pillars are hundreds of years old.  I know that SIP panels are skinned with Pressure Treated plywood on the exterior.  However the interior skin is only regular OSB.

So I have this nightmare scenario regarding SIPs for the foundation.  Perhaps someone on this forum can tell me whether my nightmare is well founded or not.  Here's the scenario:

------- Begin scenario --------------------------
It's spring.  The water table is exceedingly high in my area (rural Ottawa, Canada) due to the spring thaw and abnormally high rainfall.  The sump pump and its backup fail at this worst possible time (as sump pumps invariably do).  Without getting into why the sump failed (its not a sump pump forum),  the basement ends up with 3 feet of water for several days.  Perhaps even for a week.  (Let's make this really bad and assume further that I was on Vacation and consequently away from home, and so the water just sat and impregnated the OSB). 

From what I know of OSB, the water will just wick its way up the OSB sheets causing the OSB to bulge and flare along the SIPS seams.

I can't imagine how this will not degrade the structural integrety of the foundation and consequently of the entire home.
-------- End Scenario ------------------------

My nightmare scenario is largely theoritical (to me anyway).  I was wondering if there is anyone who might have some practical experience on this either supporting my scenario or (hopefully) refuting it.


PanelCraftersUser is Offline
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29 Nov 2006 11:23 AM
Posted By WannaBuildWithSIPS on 11/28/2006 8:09 PM
I can't imagine how this will not degrade the structural integrety of the foundation and consequently of the entire home


Flooding is always a bad scenario.

However, think about this: Unlike standard SIPS, basement & foundation SIPS should have more than their skins for structural support. Enercept Basement SIPS, for instance, have 2x8 PT studs every 16". So, I really don't see the wall failing. A warped skin, and soaked foam, yes. But no structural failure.

If you are really that worried about water problems, I would reconsider the use of any wood product for a foundation.
....jc
If you're not building with OSB SIPS(or ICF's), why are you building?
Dan @ EC&DUser is Offline
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29 Nov 2006 04:21 PM
Well, WannabuildwithSIPs we have built many SIP foundations and used quite a few variations or configurations of them. To answer your question I have to say that the first consideration in doing any foundation (as far as we are concerned) is drainage, which is a requirement if your doing ANY type of PWF (Permanent Wood Foundation) which SIP's fall into that category. I guess if you are building in a hole in a swampy area the senario you discussed may happen however something would have gone real wrong before you ever got started.
If I could I like to say that almost in any location you can vary the elevation of the project and allow for drainage away from the building to a DEEP sump if necessary and better than that to daylight, then you would NEVER have water problems you spoke of. On the other hand just to say that though concrete may seem uneffected by water standing that way it is as well just not in so visible ways (I have my own prejudges). However I personally would not use the CCA 1 side and OSB on the inside if your concerned but treated plywood both sides. It would be less effected than the other. Personally whoever is your builder or supplier should give you some specifications to follow on your SIP Foundation System that you can REST on.
Really a SIP foundation esspecially if you use a SIP Floor as well is the MOST comfortable space you'd ever want to live in. Good Luck (Laboring Under Correct Knowledge)!
Curt StendelUser is Offline
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29 Nov 2006 06:29 PM
My son experienced exactly what you are afraid of. Shortly after finishing his SIP basement he went on vacation and returned to a faulty sump pump and about 10" of water in his basement. He replaced the pump and removed the water, then removed the carpet for drying. All of the sheetrock that was applied to conventional stuf framing on interior walls had to be cut off above the water line, replaced and refinished. All of the sheetrock that had been glued to the interior of the SIP walls was not damaged. Apparently the treated plywood interior sheathing on the SIPs prevented water damage to the sheetrock since the water could not get at the back side. SIP foundation walls, basement walls, and floors either on or below grade are a great way to build - eliminating alot of the headaches that come with concrete.
WannaBuildWithSIPSUser is Offline
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30 Nov 2006 06:52 PM
Hmmm!!  Interesting.  You think pressure treated wood is viable on the exterior of a house?  As far as I know one element of the treatment includes arsenic.  I didn't think building codes or health regulations would allow that.  Anyway it's moot since the suppliers I'm aware of in Canada only supply Foundation SIPs with OSB as an interior skin.
WannaBuildWithSIPSUser is Offline
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30 Nov 2006 06:53 PM
OOPS... in my previous post I meant to say "...pressure treated wood on the INTERIOR ..."
mmacgowaUser is Offline
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05 Dec 2006 07:36 AM
How about buying a duck to live in the basement? Didn't the minors used to use birds to warn them of gas? Perhaps you are looking at the issue from the wrong angle. You don't make mention of the need for an insulated basement. Maybe you could use pier and beam and start the SIPs at the floor. This way you could have a insulated home on water tight stilts. And you could still store your water toys and duck decoys in the basement.
firefoxUser is Offline
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06 Dec 2006 12:36 AM
Why not use ICF's for the basement? I don't think I could sleep that well using osb SIPS for the basement
in that kind of an environment. I don't really see the advantage, but maybe I am missing something.
Falcon05DadUser is Offline
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06 Dec 2006 09:24 AM
WannaBuild,

My 2900 sq ft SIP home to be started next Fall will have a walkout made either of ICFs or prebuilt Superior Walls. The choice will be one of cost and value. A Superior Wall plant is very close to my building site, but the initial rough estimate I got from them is a bit high. If they sharpen the pencil, they'll have the edge because it goes up very quickly and it's a guaranteed turnkey solution.

Personally, I wouldn't choose to use SIPs below grade. But that's just my opinion. Good luck with your build.

Greg
Tom in CTUser is Offline
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06 Dec 2006 11:18 PM
Greg-
With the Superior Walls product, look thoroughly into your local franchisee. I have been through a mess with mine and the main Superior Walls, the franchisor, has been no help at all and let me know any warranty issues are with the local franchisee. So while the product may a good idea, ultimately, it is only as good as that local manufaturer/installer. Their competence and integrity is just as important as the product itself. I learned the hard way.
Tom
wesUser is Offline
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07 Dec 2006 09:00 AM
Greg,
I must second Tom's warning.  We have experienced problems with the Superior Walls franchisee here in western KY.  And, apparently, this is not an isolated incident for this particular company.
Wes Shelby
Design Systems Group
Murray KY
wandr@ainweb.net
Falcon05DadUser is Offline
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07 Dec 2006 12:43 PM
Wes,
Thanks to both you and Tom for the input.  Did the panels you had problems with come from the Rock Island TN plant?  I'll be cautious before committing, for sure.  ICFs are not out of the mix.  Especially if I can be guided by an experienced mentor.  I'll stay in touch with you.  I've got my plans for the house and will start the detached garage probably in February.
Greg
wesUser is Offline
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07 Dec 2006 06:24 PM
Greg,
No our panels did not come from the Rock Island plant, rather from a plant here in SW Kentucky.
Our problems were not technical, but rather of a 'business' nature, which I won't go into any further.  I think the technology is sound, although I would still add more waterproofing to their walls. However, I know that  ICFs work and produce an extremely strong, dry, and warm basement environment.  Our experience with ICFs over the last 10+ years is simple: not one problem or complaint, lots of praise.
Wes Shelby
Design Systems Group
Murray KY
wandr@ainweb.net
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