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Exposed foam board


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I had a job at a new townhouse this afternoon. In the basement furnace room, the builder enclosed the foundation walls with extruded polystyrene.

I was under the impression that this material cannot be left exposed.

The certificate of occupancy was issued yesterday and I'm going to call them in the morning about this and a few other things. I just want to make sure that I have my facts right. Thanks for your help.

Tony

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I found this in the IRC. Perhaps you could apply it to the specifics of the situation and come up with a conclusion.

R320.5 Foam plastic protection.

In areas where the probability of termite infestation is ?very heavy? as indicated in Figure R301.2(6), extruded and expanded polystyrene, polyiso- cyanurate and other foam plastics shall not be installed on the exterior face or under interior or exterior foundation walls or slab foundations located below grade. The clearance between foam plastics installed above grade and exposed earth shall be at least 6 inches (152 mm).

Exceptions:

1. Buildings where the structural members of walls, floors, ceilings and roofs are entirely of noncom- bustible materials or pressure-preservative-treated wood.

2. When in addition to the requirements of Section R320.1, an approved method of protecting the foam plastic and structure from subterranean termite damage is used.

3. On the interior side of basement walls.

I dont see anything in the picture that would conflict with this section.

BTW, what's that extra pipe coming out of the bottom of the water heater drain valve? Just curious.

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Exception #3 seems to cover that one.

John, trace that pipe back up the side of the water heater to the circulation pump (the red can looking thingy on the pipe) and you'll find it's for recirculating hot water to the distant reaches of the empire.

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Thanks for the information. That was very helpful and yes, that's a circulating loop to the 2nd floor fixtures.

One other thing that has me scratching my head is the placement of the window well covers. They built a deck over the basement egress windows and were required to build an access that "a 7 year old can open" according to the village. These openings are directly in front of the operable panels for the dual sliding glass doors and are about 4'x4'.

They built these covers out of some sort of plexi-glass and aluminum struts and set them in the opening.

I weigh about 180lbs (give or take a few) and these panels flexed to the point to where I thought I was going to fall through. Plus they were loose. Anyone can lift them off. If the cover was left off for any reason, someone walking through the door can go right down the well.

I find it hard to believe that this isn't a safety concern and that the village let this slide. I'm going to give them a call. I'd like to get some opinions though. Thanks again.

Tony

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Is the whole complex like this? No one caught this condition until the decks were built? That's an awful lot of imbeciles in one place.

Back to the foam for a minute; Dirck's cite is about bugs, what about the smoke and flame spread index? I was under the impression it had to be covered.

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Who's the scientist who placed an escape window under a sliding door where one assumes a deck would be buiilt? That's truly f****'d up.

Yeah it's a mess. This place is built on the bottom of a sloping lot. All the other townhouses in the complex either have garden basement windows or walk-outs. Whoever designed the ones at the bottom of the hill apparently didn't design them tall enough and needed to use egresses.

As far as the foam board, I was doing a little research in the 2006 IRC and found section R314 Foam Plastics. Paraphrasing section R314.4 says that the exposed foam board needs to be separated from the interior with an approved thermal barrier minimum 0.5 inches thick.

There are a few exceptions and I called the village to find out if they apply, but so far I haven't heard back.

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Just to do a little follow up, I did speak to the village inspector about this stuff. Regarding the well covers, he said that they have documentation from the manufacturer that those things are rated for 500lbs. I gave my client the number of a company that makes custom steel grates.

He couldn't give me an answer about the foam board. I found the manufacturers requirements about covering the stuff and the code requirement saying the same thing. He agreed and said that the guy that approved this was out of town until next Friday. Maybe he has additional information.

Here's my question; they want to close early next week. Once the CO is approved and issued, can or do these guys change their mind and make the builder change something? The buyer is worried that she'll have to pay for it once they close.

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