ICF Foundations

Building Green with I.C.F. in a Nutshell:

Insulated Concrete Forms or ICF’s are an insulating forming system made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) for poured-in-place concrete walls and foundations.

Simply put ICF is a forming system for concrete. Since many people have never seen an ICF, think of them as giant Lego® building blocks.

Once your footing or slab has been poured, ICF’s are stacked in staggered courses to form your wall system (basements, garages, first, second and multiple story walls) in both commercial and residential applications. Once concrete is placed in them, the form stays on as a permanent part of the wall assembly. Once the walls have cured, they form an incredibly strong monolithic structure that is permanent and non-deteriorating

Green Building with Amvic ICF

If you would like to build a structure that is environmentally friendly and sustainable, Amvic ICF is an excellent building alternative. There are several elements that make Amvic ICF green which are outlined below.

Reduces Energy Consumption & Harmful Emissions

Amvic ICF structures combine expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation and concrete thermal mass. This highly effective combination of materials minimizes temperature fluctuations by absorbing and storing heat. This equates to an average of approximately 30-50% reduction in energy consumption for heating and cooling, which results in an equivalent reduction in harmful emissions.

Furthermore, Amvic manufacturing centers use steam and cold water to produce ICFs. No CFC’s, HCFC’s, formaldehyde or any chemicals are used in Amvic’s manufacturing process and no off-gassing is present.

Saves Trees

In order to protect our atmosphere and ourselves, it is essential to limit the number of trees we cut down. Every Amvic home saves several trees, which absorb carbon dioxide and give us oxygen.

Uses Recycled Materials

Amvic ICF webs are manufactured using 100% post-industrial recycled polypropylene. This means that over 60% of the weight of an Amvic ICF block is comprised of recycled materials.

Minimizes Waste

Amvic-logoAmvic ICF can generate as little as 1% construction waste thus, which is over 50% less than most competing ICFs. This greatly reduces land filling which produces methane emissions.

Block Foundations

Cinderblock foundations are often found in homes that have crawlspaces, and may show up in some basement construction as well in pillar form. Cinderblock foundations are desirable because the blocks are relatively easy to work with and they are inexpensive. Like anything else, though, cinderblock is not completely impervious, and from time to time cinderblock foundation repair is a necessity to maintain the structural integrity of the house as a whole. If your foundation is cracked, leaning, or giving you some other reason to suspect that it is becoming unstable, there are a few things to consider when hiring a company to fix it.

Common Foundation Issues

Whether you have a traditional basement, concrete slab, or cinderblock foundation, it is important to understand just how serious foundation problems can be and how to recognize potential symptoms. Foundations are there to support the rest of the house, and need to be very strong to do their job properly. Unstable foundations can cause serious damage to your property and end up costing you a bundle, so when you suspect a problem, it is well worth the time to have it checked out promptly

Foundation problems can have many different causes. In addition to being constructed improperly in the first place, foundations can be damaged by excessive moisture, inadequate insulation or moisture seal, poor soil make-up, extended periods of below freezing temperatures, and other conditions.

Though in very old homes with concrete foundations, a crack one quarter inch across or smaller might be considered “normal” (though it is a good idea to let Johnston Masonry determine what is acceptable), in homes with cinderblock foundations, cracks this large should definitely be examined by us ASAP. Doors and windows becoming misaligned and cracks forming on walls in living areas are also classic signs of foundation issues

Foundation Fixes

There are several things that can be done to improve the condition of your foundation, but only a professional should make the call on which is right for your particular situation. In some cases, if the damage is only superficial, your foundation might just need a bit of TLC to improve appearances and a few minor alterations to drainage or similar systems around the house. Many foundation issues are fixed by a process known as underpinning, where the foundation is extended to reach further into the ground where it will be more stable. Johnston Masonry specialize in foundations repair and will probably need to come and have a look at the problem in person before we will be able to give an estimate.

Frost Protected Shallow Foundations

How does insulation stop frost heave from occurring?

Frost heave can only occur when all the following three conditions are present:

  • The soil is frost susceptible (meaning it contains more than 5 percent silt),
  • Sufficient moisture is available (soil is above approximately 80 percent saturation)
  • Subfreezing temperatures are penetrating the soil. Removing one of these factors will negate the possibility of frost damage.

“Insulation as required in this design guide will prevent underlying soil from freezing. Soil has an insulating value ranging between R-1 per foot and R-3 per foot. (Yes, these values are in feet, not inches.) An inch of polystyrene insulation, R-4.5, has an equivalent R-value of about 4 feet of soil on average. The use of insulation is particularly effective on a building foundation for several reasons. First, heat loss is minimized while storing and directing heat into the foundation’s soil-not out through the vertical face of the foundation wall. Second, horizontal insulation projecting outward will shed moisture away from the foundation further minimizing the risk of frost damage. Finally, because of the insulation, the frost line will rise as it approaches the foundation. Since frost heave forces act perpendicular to the frost line, heave forces, if present, will act in a horizontal direction and not upwards.”

In a heated building, the frost protected shallow foundation (FPSF) relies on heat from the house to raise soil temperatures around the foundation. One layer of insulation covers the outside face of the foundation, while a second extends horizontally away from it. The rigid foam traps any heat that the ground absorbs from the building, keeping soil temperatures around the footing above freezing. The building’s heating system can be safely turned off for a three week period in the winter because thermal lag in the concrete will maintain the soil temperature above freezing.

The vertical foam also protects the foundation wall from “ad freezing.” Ad freezing occurs when expansive soils freeze to the outside of a foundation. In some cases, this can heave a foundation whose footing is below the frost line.