Stacked Form-A-Drain: two chamber system with water & radon evacuation holes
The earth on our farm is very dense and can get quite mucky and wet. Spring, warm winter days, and fall mean swampy conditions. Drainage is an issue. We were told that in our part of the country, radon is common in basements. So, we had to research and incorporate everything we could think of to prevent water from getting into the base floor of the building and to provide proper radon mitigation. From these solutions, we needed to determine which would be the most energy efficient. To our surprise, we came across a couple of solutions that would address both issues without the use of any energy, and, as a bonus, it turns out they were made with post-recycled materials. Talk about being green.
Our architect suggested a water and radon mitigation building material that used zero energy, offered some structural benefits, and was made of recyclable materials. He remembered reading about it in a magazine, a product called Form A Drain. At that time, Form-A-Drain was not yet available to the construction industry in our area. However, the benefits and cost savings far outweighed the inconvenience of finding a distributor from another area that was willing to ship this product to us. You can learn more about how this product works by internet research (simply Google the term Form-A-Drain).
Form-A-Drain set up as footer forms with a radon mitigation outlet in the middle of the picture
I'll provide a description why we chose this product and how it provided a savings to our particular structure in both energy and resources. First, we had to build footers as the building was brand-new. This product served as the form to hold the concrete for the footers, preventing the use of energy and resources to build, remove, and discard any unused footer forms. To quote from the manufacturer’s website The Form-A-Drain product reduces waste generated on the jobsite and saves time and money by eliminating the need to install, remove and dispose of conventional wood forms. Second, the two-channels in the form offered both a collection and drainage system for any water that could accumulate at the footer-level on the outside as well as the inside of the building. It's a zero energy, old-fashioned common-sense design at collecting any water that might accumulate under the flooring. The water enters the path of least resistance by filling channels and flowing to the drain-to-daylight. We happened to do three cross-drains as double-backup should one cross drain fail, such as plug-up. And, as an absolute last resort, a deeper sump-pit was also incorporated should all of the numerous water mitigating channels fail or become insufficient (obviously a sump pump uses energy, so this was built into the basement as a fourth level of back-up; given the number of alternatives, hopefully, this will not be needed). The channels also act as an energy-free way to allow radon gas that might be present underneath the floor to rise through these channels into a pipe, allowing the gas to naturally ventilate away from the building, should radon gas become an issue.
Delta MS Dimple sheeting against water infiltration into the basement
This ingenious water and radon mitigation product is one more material that not only reduce or eliminate energy consumption, but it was entirely eco-friendly. To quote the manufacturer’s website Form-A-Drain lineals are manufactured from 100% pre- and post-consumer PVC, including common post-consumer containers such as shampoo bottles. The overall pre- and post-consumer recycled content of Form-A-Drain system components is 92%...millions of pounds/year of PVC [are diverted] from landfills by recycling this material…In addition to landfill waste reduction, the use of recycled PVC…reduces the release of CO2 from the extraction and processing of raw materials that are used to create virgin PVC.
To prevent water from seeping into the basement, the exterior of the basement walls were coated first with a masonry application product that has some resistance to water and water pressure. That layer of protection was then covered with a water and damp-proofing membrane (called Delta MS). It is a type of dimple-sheeting product. This sheeting gets wrapped around the entire exterior basement wall that is below grade. This heavy-duty, recycled plastic material blocks water from ever touching the walls. The dimples channel water or condensation away from the building and down the sheeting towards the water draining channels (Form-a-Drain) affixed to the footers. Once in these channels, the water moves around and away from the building and into the drain-to-daylight. This dimple-sheeting product was not yet available through local suppliers in our area, but the benefits of the product met the particular needs of our circumstances, and eco-friendly material was a huge plus, which made it a worthwhile product for us to order by mail. Today it is more easily found in our area.
The manufacturer incorporated as much recycled material as it could without compromising the integrity and efficiency of the product. The manufacturer’s website states it is manufactured with an exclusive co-extrusion process, utilizing 60% recycled High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) from municipal recycling programs in the middle, and two thin layers of a specific grade of virgin HDPE on the outside. The encapsulation of the recycled HDPE ensures [it] is adequately protected against polymer degradation caused by oxidation and environmental influences like acidic soils or alkalinity (concrete), which all-recycle based products are highly vulnerable to. In fact, it is virtually impossible to control the environmental stress crack resistance (ESCR) of HDPE membranes that are made entirely from recycled resin. It is non-toxic and non-polluting, according to the manufacturer.
To prevent surface water from flowing towards the house, the soil line was graded away from the building, and a French drainage system around the house should also move water away from the building.
Technically, between the grade of the outside earth, the numerous green and zero energy water mitigation materials that we incorporate, water and radon mitigation should be well managed without the use of any energy.
To get additional independent product or manufacturing specific information, conduct internet research, such as searches on Google, by entering the product names or descriptions from this page and you’ll find a large variety of articles, testing and manufacturing, and installation information.