(PRWEB) September 12, 2003
Who is the ICC Evaluation Service? ÂICC-ES is a nonprofit, public-benefit corporation that does technical evaluations of building products, components, methods, and materials. The evaluation process culminates with the issuance of reports on code compliance, which are made available free of charge, on the worldwide Web, to building regulators, contractors, specifiers, architects, engineers, and anyone else with an interest in the building industry and construction. These people look to ICC-ES evaluation reports for evidence that products and systems meet code requirementsÂ (ICC evaluation Service Inc. 2003 Para. 1 http://www.icc-es.org/).
A New organization, A Long History: ÂICC-ES came into being on February 1, 2003, when America's four building-product evaluation services officially combined their operations. The four "legacy" evaluation services that came together to form ICC-ES were the National Evaluation Service, Inc.; BOCAI Evaluation Services; ICBO Evaluation Service, Inc.; and SBCCI Public Service Testing and Evaluation Services, Inc. Through the legacy evaluation services, ICC-ES has a history that goes back more than seventy yearsÂ (ICC evaluation Service Inc. 2003 Para. 2 http://www.icc-es.org/).
Why Smart VENT INC. did it: Most building products that are intended to protect us, like windows and roof shingles, are tested and certified before they are allowed to be utilized in home construction. A code official or architect would never allow a new window that was not certified for wind resistance, nor would he allow a new shingle that was not tested for fire resistance. When we looked for certified flood vents or hydrostatic flood vents, there were none. Our objective with this certification is to give professionals the independent data and the comfort of knowing that our products are certified to code. A code official does not need to investigate the legitimacy of a Pella window. Now they can be assured there is a flood vent that is certified to meet code.
With a forty year history of manufacturing quality products we wanted to make sure our new product was designed to meet the building codes, along with the NFIP flood insurance guidelines. We asked FEMA to evaluate our foundation flood vent, and they formally explained that they do not evaluate or indorse any products. FEMA recommended that any product used to comply with FEMA guidelines should have their product evaluated by the National Evaluation Service (NES) (now the International Code Council Evaluation Service). ÂIf the ICC certifies your products to be compliant then so do we,Â FEMA stated.
Definition: Engineered Opening vs. Non Engineered Opening
No one has ever tested or certified a foundation flood vent, let alone an engineered opening, so the process was time consuming and expensive. An Engineered Opening as described by the NFIP as an opening certified by an architect or engineer to pass flood water automatically in both directions, within the rate of rise and fall per the strict requirements of FEMA Technical Bulletin TB-1-93 and ASCE 24-98. An important aspect of these calculations is the drag produced as flood waters pass through an opening with changing head pressure, and the safety factor multiplier used to account for damage or clogging. The Smart VENTÂ® is unique in that when the floatation device comes in contact with flood water, it automatically unlatches the door, allowing the entire door to flip open, thus providing free passage of water and debris to flow through. This made the calculation for flow including the coefficient of discharge fairly easy. The Engineered Opening is therefore designed to meet the flow requirements of the NFIP and with a safety factor of FIVE. This means ONE 8Â x 16Â Smart VENT is certified to protect 200 Square Feet of enclosed area. Although the calculations showed that our vents could perform as calculated we all wanted to see it in real live tests.
In contrast, a Non Engineered opening must meet the NFIP requirements of 1 Square Inch of permanently open area for every 1 square foot of enclosed area. An open unobstructed hole would meet these requirements or a hole with screened openings measuring 3Â or larger would be acceptable. However, because these openings are not certified, 2/3 more openings are required in a typical foundation to accommodate the anticipated clogging that occurs during a flood. Many municipalities have allowed the use of air vents as flood vents so we were interested in subjecting air vents to the exact same tests as we subjected to our products.
The Testing Process: The fist step was to agree with ICC on what tests to perform. All of the tests were designed to replicate the conditions outlined in TB-1-93, ASCE 24-98, and the ICC codes. A full scale block foundation test facility was designed and constructed, including input openings on both sides for metered water, observation windows, and video capability. The most critical aspect of the testing was to insure that water flow in both directions simulated real flood conditions. Although it was not required by ICC, we added debris to all of the tests to insure the testing reflected worst case scenarios. Where there are floods, there is debris, and we wanted to see how debris affected our vents along with screened fixed vents. The ICC required us to hire an NES certified independent engineering firm to perform all of the calculations and witness the testing. The firm we chose was Architectural Testing Inc. Located in York PA. These guys have tested thousands of products including windows, doors, structural members, and glass ceilings, and are considered experts in construction product testing. In two days we performed 25 tests and poured 50,000 gallons of water through our vents.
The Results: The Architectural Testing Inc. calculations were correct. Our vent was able to relieve the hydrostatic pressure on the interior and exterior foundation walls as predicted. With three feet of head pressure the equalization time was only seconds. Even with debris and a safety factor of five, one 8Â x 16Â Smart VENTÂ® was capable of protecting 200 sq/ft of enclosed area. It was also fascinating to see the same tests performed on non-certified air vents with fixed insect screens. Like a filter, the three air vents that were tested collected the debris in the screen and quickly clogged. The test criteria established by FEMA and the NFIP states: at no time during the prescribed rate of rise and fall can there be more then a one foot difference between the water coming in, and the water going out. After the water level in the incoming tank covered the air vents the water in the incoming tank or flooding tank overflowed the 4Â top lip. The difference between the interior and exterior was 4.5 feet. All of the Air vents that are commonly used as flood vents failed the ICC tests. We are proud to manufacture this product in the United States and look forward to answering any questions you have.
Smart VENTÂ® is a partner in mitigation with FEMA region II, a corporate partner with the Association of State Flood Plain Managers, a member of the ASCE 24 committee, and offers AIA CES credits to professionals interested in flood vent regulations and codes. We have Manufactures Representatives all over the country who share a mission dedicated to educating their communities about the effects of flood venting.
Test results, video, and high resolution pictures are available upon request.
We manufacture an insulated flood only model, a flood and ventilation model, and a garage door model.
Visit http://www.smartvent.com for more information.
Phone 888-628-4115 Fax 856-863-8408