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Living in a comfortable, energy efficient home is important to homeowners looking to enjoy their private space while knowing they find comfort and sustainability without financial strain. Heating your home is most necessary for providing a healthy environment and hydronic in floor heating offers the best solution to providing that well-being.

In floor radiant hydronic heating provides even, quiet, draft-free heat. There are no supply and return registers or convection-reliant radiators, and there is less air leakage around doors and windows. The heat is evenly distributed from the floor level which is where we are allowing the temperatures where people are situated to be heated faster. The other benefit to radiant heat is that it is quiet and operates unnoticeably because it is installed underneath the floor.

  

(Pic: Hydronic heating for Basement and Entrance using the Ampex Panel)

Conventional forced heat means air is blown through dusty or dirty ducts which can circulate airborne pollutants throughout your home. With radiant heat, it is dust-free and can contribute to healthier indoor air quality which is beneficial to people who suffer from allergies, asthma and other breathing problems.

Ampex Panel for Radiant In-Floor Heating:

The Ampex Insulated Pex Panel by Amvic Building System has been specifically designed to provide easier, faster and the most cost effective installation and performance for Hydronic Radiant in-floor heating systems. The panel consists of expanded polystyrene insulation molded into a high impact polystyrene film. This combination makes for a stronger, more resilient interlocking PEX panel.

The design of the Ampex panel makes for a very durable and simple install on the job site. Because of its strength and stability, plumbers can handle the material with ease eliminating breakage, replacement and additional labour. The film on the panel along with the nubs, allows the PEX tubing to be walked in and locked into place, rather than constant bending to wire-tie or staple the tubing firmly into place cutting labour time and material costs. The size of the panels also increase productivity and precision when placing the panels on the floor. The 2×4 panels become easier to maneuver, easier to place and easier to identify leveling inconsistencies.

Energy and Cost Savings:

Hydronic radiant floor systems save energy and lower fuel bills because radiant heat performs better at lower water temperatures, enabling you to lower the thermostat. Further savings can be realized because running a high-efficiency boiler at lower temperatures will increase its lifespan. In addition, hydronic radiant heat is more efficient than other systems because it uses moderately low water temperatures to heat your home. In effect, the entire floor is a radiator, so it doesn’t have to be as hot as conventional radiators. Boilers can heat water to lower temperatures more efficiently than they can heat water to higher temperatures.

Ampex Panel for Radiant In-Floor Heating in a Barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ampex panel with its high impact polystyrene film acts as a vapour retardant and provides high energy efficiency. The panel has R values from R10, R12, R14, and R16.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website, radiant heating has a number of advantages over other forms of heat distribution because: “It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts.

Environment Friendly:

Because of its energy efficiency and clean draft-free heat, concrete radiant floor heating offers numerous environmental benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Less energy required to achieve better thermal comfort at a lower thermostat setting
  • Water has 3,500 times the energy transport capacity of air
  • Adaptable to various energy-efficient heat sources, such as solar and geothermal
  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Radiant systems that use PEX tubing vs. copper pipe expedite hot water delivery and reduce water waste. The walls of PEX tubing provide better insulation than copper
  • Reduces building materials required for concealing duct work and compensating ceiling heights
  • Provides more usable area, which allows for smaller spaces without sacrificing livability

In-floor radiant heating can also help contribute to green building points under two recently introduced national programs: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes (see A National Certification Program for Green Homes) and the National Association of Home Builders Green Building Program. The Radiant Panel Association worked with NAHB in developing its green home building guidelines, which were released in 2005. The RPA Guidelines for the Installation of Radiant Panel Heating and Snow/Ice Systems is included as a recognized design reference for earning green building points.

Radiant Heating Applications:

Snow and ice melting systems with hydronic heating circulate warm liquid through PEX tubing which is concealed in concrete, asphalt or sand. These systems can be easily installed in residential, commercial or industrial applications such as driveways, sidewalks, stairs, entrances, parking lots, ramps, helipads and much more.

 

Benefits of snow and ice melt systems are:

  • Safety: Accidents are reduced or eliminated in common pedestrian areas such as ramps, sidewalks and driveways
  • Reduced Maintenance: Eliminates the need for shoveling, plowing, salting and sanding. Incurs less damage on driveway, grass, landscaping etc., and less spend on salt/sand and other materials to remove snow
  • Liability: Eliminates injury occurrence from a slip and fall from an unplowed or unsalted walkway or parking lot
  • Increased pavement life: No corrosive chemicals or heavy equipment used to shovel or plow areas covered in ice and snow
  • Comfort and Assurance: No reliance needed from a snow removal company to service their exterior building and provides additional well-being for employees

Some of the design benefits with a radiant floor heating system include the elimination of baseboards and floor vents (which can obstruct furniture placement), the ability to effectively use floor-to-ceiling windows without compromising interior comfort, and smaller ventilation ducting for greater ceiling heights.

Homeowners can choose to have hydronic heating throughout their entire home which can eliminate the need for forced air units and reduce utility bills. Typical common living areas for floor heating include the bathroom, the family room, the garage/driveway, entrances and even the kitchen. Best of all, radiant floor heating is compatible under any type of floor covering — carpet, wood, slate, tile, stone, laminate, and even concrete — making design possibilities endless.

Before taking your basement-finishing project any further, consider that its comfort, efficiency, and longevity all depend on a suitable basement subfloor.

In an effort to carve out more living space, without spending a fortune, countless homeowners take on basement finishing projects each year. Some hire a contractor to handle the job from beginning to end. But others opt to do at least some of the work themselves so they can maximize the return on their remodeling dollar. Whether you call in the pros or do it yourself, finishing the basement typically pays off, if you do it right. In fact, experts estimate that when it’s time to sell, homeowners recoup much more than half the amount they’ve put into a basement finishing project. Still, the more of the project you’re able to DIY, the greater the benefit to your bottom line when you’re finally ready to move on.

To ensure your finished basement stays comfortable and dry, make a point to equip your space with the right subfloor i.e. a product specifically engineered to handle the rigors of a basement application.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer in search of a DIY solution, AmDry Basement Subfloor is the perfect solution for you. Each panel in the AmDry system consists of three components—oriented strand board (OSB), foam insulation, and moisture-resistant film. The combination of materials not only creates a thermal break between the slab and the living space, but also allows for inevitable slab surface moisture to evaporate or drain away. Refer AmDry brochure.

In the AmDry system, the uppermost layer of OSB looks and behaves no differently than a standard subfloor. But in practice, AmDry goes well beyond serving as a level substrate on which to install the finished floor. For one thing, thanks to its insulation layer, AmDry isolates the cool concrete slab from the basement space, making climate control substantially more efficient and cost effective. In fact, with R-values ranging from R-5 to R-11, AmDry offers the highest insulating capacity of any subfloor product available today. By providing incremental energy savings from one day to the next, AmDry can save homeowners substantial sums over the long term.

That said, the AmDry wouldn’t do much good if it weren’t impervious to moisture. Even if you’re lucky enough to live in a house whose basement never suffers minor foundation or appliance leaks, the space is still subject to the condensation that naturally forms on cool concrete slabs.

That’s why AmDry comes with built-in protection: The underside of its panels features a moisture-, mildew-, and mold-resistant film. Thanks to this film, when moisture builds up beneath the panel, the subfloor doesn’t suffer any damage. As well, the underside of each AmDry panel includes drainage and ventilation channels that let excess moisture drain away or evaporate instead of pooling.

AmDry is appealing not only for its best-in-breed effectiveness, but also because it’s DIY-friendly. In fact, partly due to the generous dimensions of its panel, the AmDry system takes 40 percent less time and labor to install than the competing products. Refer the AmDry Installation Manual here.

AmDry, through its innovative design, ensures that your finished basement will be warm, dry, comfortable, and energy efficient, able to stand the test of time and reward you with a solid resale value after you’ve had many, many years to enjoy your finished space.

While we all spend time enjoying the summer activities, beautiful weather and long bright days, we soon have to come to the realization that fall is around the corner. The fall season is a great way to transition into winter by facing a decrease in temperature and leaves falling, but before fall is over, there is definitely some things around the house you should do to prepare for those colder months.

Put your air conditioning unit to rest with temperatures dropping, you can begin removing your window units and store them properly to protect the unit during winter. Home A/C units can be powered down from the breaker and the safety switch located near the unit outside.

Insulate your basements to prevent heat loss, thereby saving costs and maximising on your energy efficiency. Amvic’s DIY AmDry subfloor system provides a healthy, comfortable, warm basement flooring by significantly reducing slab surface moisture and temperature fluctuations that may lead to mold and mildew problems.

Shut off and drain outside faucets by closing any shut-off valves and then opening the outside faucet to drain the line. This will prevent pipes and faucets bursting or cracking which can be an expensive disaster.

Inspect your furnace and clean or replace the furnace filter to help enhance the quality of air flowing through the house and to help the furnace run more efficiently during those cold winter months.

Check your roof for any cracks, wind damage or shingle damage. This is important to do so that you can repair any damages and prevent any leaks or drips from happening before the fall and winter season during heavy down pours and snow and ice.

Clean the Gutters regularly to avoid water being blocked by debris and fallen leaves. Water from the roof should flow through the gutters smoothly which also helps keep water from getting inside your home or causing other damage.

 

Quick checklist:
1. Store your lawn mower, hoses and other summer equipment
2. Seal cracks around doors and windows
3. Check your smoke and CO detectors
4. Give your home a general cleanup

The foundation of every house is essential in the transfer of the structural load of the building to the ground.  The foundation will ensure that it will load the bearing surface at a uniform rate so as to prevent unequal settlement, to prevent the lateral movement of the supporting material and to secure a level and firm bed for building operations. This will increase the stability of the structure as a whole.

When determining the best foundation system to use for your home, it is critical to take into consideration the type and bearing capacity of the soil it is to be built on, settling, water and frost. Simply put, the foundation is what supports everything. So getting the foundation right will go a long way toward having a sound and stable home for many years.

ICF Foundation: Concrete foundations were historically constructed by pouring concrete into temporary forms, which are removed when the concrete is cured. When built with Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), foundation forms remain in place and provide insulation on each side of the concrete with integrated framing incorporated within the form itself. The combination of mass and thermal insulation also adds a vapour and air barrier into the wall. An effective ICF form provides 5 components of a typical wall; structure, insulation, framing, vapor and air barriers. ICFs are green building certified, help minimise waste and are environment friendly.

Why build an ICF foundation?

  • Your basement will feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  • You will have the space available for expanding without the cost of adding more structure.
  • Your outside basement walls will be ready for drywall. No framing, insulation or vapor barrier needed
  • One trade does it all. No bricklayers, water proofers, farmers or insulation companies.
  • It can be done under adverse weather conditions.Concrete can be poured below freezing temperatures as it cures between two pieces of insulation and does not freeze.
  • Much faster time of construction. In most of the cases analyzed, ICF saved over 50% of the time needed to achieve the same result.

ICF Foundation for Homes on a sloped grade with a walkout design:

Some house sites are located on a sloped grade that lends themselves to walkout designs. ICF is a very effective forming material in this application.

Traditional Foundation for a sloped grade: In a traditional approach you would have to pour a foundation (stepped), then come back and stick frame all the way up to the sill height. You would have to insulate your knee walls, frame interior walls, you could have stud walls and concrete walls with different thicknesses that you would have to blend, you would very likely have wood framing that is close to finish grade and would have to “step” your finish grade up and down to avoid burying the wood.  And after all of this, you would still have to insulate the concrete portion to at least R-15 to meet the minimum energy code requirement, R-20 if you insulate entirely on the interior.  Now that’s a lot of work! If you take the time to put an honest value on all the tasks just referenced, what’s the scarcest commodity?  Labor and you would have used a bunch of it.

ICF Foundation/Basement for a sloped grade: Consider an Amvic Plus ICF form for your foundation, poured right up to the sill height. You would then be able to start your floor frame on top of the wall elevation. It’s so simple; Build your door and window bucks to accommodate the brand of your choice and build them into the wall as you come up from the footing. The Amvic Plus forms are so robust that you can pour 10′, 12’or 14′ walls with frost walls included. You can then proceed to screw drywall to your interior, place doors, windows, siding on your exterior. The ICF form ensures that your walls are one consistent thickness. You can then backfill with a consistent slope from front to back; no retaining walls or boulders required to accommodate stick framed knee walls.  There is no wood to close to grade and subject to decay and your entire foundation would be insulated and to an R-30 rating! Thus your customer gets a better value, and you as a contractor, if you put your estimator hat on and assess your costs, you would end up saving a lot on labor and material expenses and definitely would have sped up your construction schedule.  

In essense, using ICF for your home foundation and basement not only gives you the most superior structual strength and insulation but makes very good construction and business sense.

GreenICF

Sustainable Development requires a balance to be maintained between development and the environment. It promotes inter-generational equity, i.e. better quality of life for present and future generations. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) do exactly just that!

ICF building structures are sustainable / green buildings that qualify for LEED certifications. They allow architects, engineers and designers to create buildings that uses fewer natural resources, are more efficient, sustainable and have a lasting value.

Recycles Raw Materials:

ICFs are hollow, lightweight forms manufactured using high density expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels which are connected by uniquely designed, 100 percent recycled polypropylene webs, making the blocks 60 percent recycled material by total weight.

During construction, the forms are stacked, braced then filled with concrete, which is manufactured with recycled material (slag) and the end product can also be recycled creating a cradle to grave type product. The steel reinforcement that is used in the ICF forms is also made from 99 percent recycled material making the overall use of insulated concrete forms a highly sustainable process.

Reduces Waste and Emissions:

ICFs reduce waste at the construction sites, any waste produced is 100 percent recyclable. They use fewer natural resources, such as gas, electricity and wood. Reducing waste is also an important factor for green building construction; Insulated Concrete Forms can generate as little as 1 percent construction waste. This greatly reduces land filling which produces methane emissions. Furthermore, ICF is manufactured without the use of any CFCs, HCFCs or chemicals. ICF construction is environment and eco-friendly and helps conserve trees too.

Energy Efficient:

ICFs offer a “5 in 1” solution that provides structural strength, insulation, vapor barrier, sound barrier and attachments for sheet rock and exterior finishes in one easy step. ICFs produce high performance buildings that are designed and constructed to minimize maintenance and repair, offer low energy consumption reducing operating costs and has the ability to continue functioning in adverse situations.

Safe and Resilient Structures:

ICFs are durable, resilient and innovative. They offer protection from fires, earthquakes, severe storms, tornados and flooding. Government led public / private programs and National Building Codes are supporting and recognizing disaster resilient building design and continuous thermal insulation which have changed from traditional construction methodologies to providing green buildings with measurable results.

ICF construction results in durable, resilient structures that are environmentally friendly and resource-efficient throughout the building’s life-cycle; from the planning, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition phase. Green building ICFs construction contributes strongly to building safer communities through sustainable construction and providing a healthier way of life for years to come.

17 South Apt Building

Building Constructed with Energy-Efficient, Cost-Saving Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)

Charleston, SC, USA – Earlier today, representatives from EYC Companies, Amvic Building System, and Build With Strength, a coalition of engineers, architects, fire service professionals and industry experts gathered for a multi-family executive roundtable and site tour event of 17 South, a 220-unit apartment complex under construction in Charleston, South Carolina that utilizes the latest innovations in concrete construction.

Built with Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) and concrete, 17 South makes use of cutting-edge technology, demonstrating the value in utilizing what is quickly becoming the building material of choice for multi-family residential, academic and commercial buildings due to its strength, energy-efficiency, lower lifecycle costs and ease of use.

17 South Apt Complex

ICF “is a type of permanent concrete formwork that creates the external wall envelope of a building”. Typically, it is standard reinforced concrete sandwiched between two faces of low absorptive, foam plastic insulating material. Its unique, lightweight structure allows crews to construct buildings more quickly and easily than conventional methods, without compromising the integrity of the structure.

“ICF is faster than building with wood, [and] concrete doesn’t combust as wood does, that’s the truth,” said Eric Coleman, a developer with EYC Companies in a video released in August. “When you stack foam against concrete, it’s the most insulated envelope… it’s a far better product for an exterior envelope of a building than any wood wall”.

17 South Apt building 2

Wednesday’s roundtable and tour was organized in part to serve as an information opportunity for developers interested in learning about the benefits of building multi-family residential buildings with ICFs. The conversation went on to include a discussion of emerging trends in housing and development, innovations in concrete construction, and a white paper and case study examples that showcase the benefits of concrete to design structures.

The benefits of ICF are obvious. In addition to being easy to work with due to its simple design, ICF can be constructed in the winter at lower temperatures without the need for insulating blankets or a heating source. It is also highly energy-efficient thanks to insulating properties within the wall structure, and it is inherently resistant to tornados, hurricanes, fire, rot and rusting. It also has noise-cancelling properties, it costs the same as other materials, and it has a proven history around the world.

“Concrete has proven itself time and again as a vastly superior building material when it comes to strength and durability,” said Kevin Lawlor, a spokesperson for Build With Strength. “When you factor in the speed and ease of use of Insulated Concrete Forms, the advantages are more clear”.