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Plumbing and SIPs

April 23, 2012

Written by Dave Stevenson
Follow Dave on Twitter @DStevensonSIP 

One of the questions I get asked most is how plumbing is run within the solid EPS core of a SIP wall.

The answer to question is simple: Plumbing within a SIP wall assembly should be avoided. Plumbing cannot easily be run within the solid core of an EPS panel; and even if it could, most building codes in the United States and Canada limit the practice of incorporating plumbing into any type of exterior wall.

Plumbing is generally kept to the conditioned side (interior side of the vapour barrier) of the building envelope to avoid expansion and contraction of the pipes and fittings.
The obvious concerns are freezing and condensation.

A broken water line within the exterior wall assembly of any building can have very serious consequences, and the struggle of getting to the source of the problem can be a difficult and expensive process. For this reason, water lines are typically run within interior walls, between floor joists, and hidden below bathroom vanities and kitchen countertops.

Vertical ventilation stacks coming off sinks, toilets and washers and dryers that are located against exterior SIP walls can be accommodated by using ‘island vents’ which route the stacks through the floor and into the nearest interior partition wall. See Figure 1.

Sprinkler systems, which are becoming more and more common, should also be kept to the conditioned side of the roof assembly. If sprinklers are required, then the ceiling should be furred down using 2x dimensional lumber attached to the bottom skin of the SIP roof panel, or simply left exposed.

Check in again next time when I will tackle the question of running electrical wires in SIP walls and roofs.

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