Dry Basement Systems
A reinforced concrete foundation system is an essential part of any successful building. The foundation’s primary function is to structurally support the weight of the building and resist horizontal forces created by the earth and the environment. Creating a dry basement system for the foundation is also critical. Managing the flow of moisture, bulk water and water vapor through foundation walls and floors is an essential part of a sustainable dry basement system. Effectively designed foundations create basement spaces that are safe, healthful, durable and comfortable.
Effective basement foundation design incorporates several functional elements that protect the assembly from the surrounding soil and the outdoor environment. When dry basement systems are implemented successfully and economically, occupants will experience a healthful, durable, comfortable and energy efficient living space.
In an effective dry-basement, water-managed, foundation system liquid water is effectively directed away from the foundation wall and footing surfaces using a drainage board, filter fabric covered coarse washed stone and a foundation drainage system. Exterior foundation wall surfaces are protected against soil moisture intrusion using damp or water proofing materials while vapor barriers are installed below concrete slabs to reduce the flow of water vapor into basement spaces through the basement floor. Finally, thermal insulation of the foundation wall along with air tightness measures are introduced to compelte the dry basement system and create improved energy efficiency and indoor comfort.
Specific dry basement systems can be strateigically designed based on the local climate, soil type and soil moisture content. Publically available customized maps of the United States that define climate zones, classify soil type and describe soil moisture regimes can provide some insight to the designer during the material selection and planning of the dry basement system.
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