Managing Building Envelope Moisture with ICFs
One of the benefits of an insulated concrete form wall is that the concrete and foam are not affected by water. However, the foam insulation can create conditions that lead to formation of moisture that could lead to mold, mildew or rot in other components such as wood framing and drywall.
For foundations, the best way to prevent moisture infiltration is use a waterproofing membrane (spray-applied or self-adhered), on the exterior face of the ICF. Waterproofing combined with a drainage system will divert any water infiltration.
A study by the Portland Cement Association found that ICF walls were not susceptible to moisture from condensation or infiltration around openings when installed according to the manufacturer's instructions. The use of vapor barriers varies by climate zone, so check with the manufacturer for the right solution for your project.
In a new home, many building materials, including concrete, must dry out over time and vent moisture into the air. ICF Builder Magazine reports the best solution is to design the home properly with the right sized heat and air system to maintain proper humidity levels in the home.
Also the polystyrene foam and concrete will not support the growth of mold, mildew and other potentially harmful microorganisms. Basically, the ICF don't contain any organic material so there's nothing for the little critters to eat. Also, the polystyrene foam used in many ICF walls completely nontoxic and free of formaldehyde, asbestos and fiberglass so it's better for indoor air quality.
As in any home, the best way to deal with moisture is to have a properly sized HVAC system to keep humidity at the proper level.
This blog was developed by Fox Blocks. All posts, sponsored and un-sponsored have been reviewed and approved by the Sustainable Community Media Editorial Team to ensure quality, relevance/usefulness and objectivity.
Companies: Fox Blocks
David Morris A Detroit native, David T. Morris, LEED® Green Associate, used his drive for entrepreneurship, innovation & new product development to develop a patented product and later took a new building product to market. In 2012, he became U.S. East Regional Manager with Fox Blocks, a division of Airlite Plastics Company, managing ICF sales in seven states. Since 2006, David has delivered more than 140 IFA/ICF training seminars to contractors, plus another 120 presentations to architects and engineers. He is a featured speaker and SME on High-Performance Buildings, and his efforts have resulted in environmentally friendly construction being specified for residential, commercial, and institutional buildings throughout the country.