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Re: Vinyl Sheet Piling Foundation Walls

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Larry:

A quick question first...what is the purpose of the foundation wall?  Is
it just a "rat wall"?  Or will you have a crawl space or even basement
wall (i.e. it must retain earth)?  I would kind of doubt the second, but
one never knows.

As to your specific question, I don't recall anything in the code that
would directly address the use of vinyl in such a structural application.
The only thing that comes to mind is the "alternative materials" provision
in the front of the code (around section 600 if I recall correctly).  This
would basically place the "acceptance" of use on the local code official.
And since this kind of sounds like a federal government project (i.e.
National Park Service), this would usually mean the federal government
official (i.e. you) as many federal project are typically except from
local code enforcement.  Sorry, but that does not help much.

As to vinyl itself, I would second your concern about the performance at
low temperatures.  While I have never used (or seen) vinyl used as you
describe, I have seen vinyl siding used in moderately cold temperatures
(compared to what you are likely talking about).  I have personal
experience with vinyl siding the shatters when temperatures get around
freezing if hit with something.  In otherwords, I believe the vinyl gets
VERY brittle when it is really code.

As to my reason for the first question, what about something like CMU
block or precast concrete for the foundation wall?  CMU could work for
both situations (i.e. retaining earth or not), but you face similar
problems in that you would likely want to grout it solid and then have to
deal with mixing the grout on site (similar problem as cast in place
concrete).  Another possibility would be precast foundation systems such a
Superior Wall.  There your challenge might be getting the precast sections
shipped to your remote location.  And what about good old traditional
steel sheet piling?  Is there some reason why it is not a viable option?
You still would have some cold weather issues to likely deal with
(depending on where the project is and how cold it really gets), but
be much less brittle than vinyl.  You other option would be treated wood
foundation.  Or look at other composite material sheet piling.  Composite
material might have many of the same problems as vinyl but to a lesser
degree (note that I am assuming that when you say vinyl you are talking
the same stuff that is used to make vinyl siding).

Hope my "brain storming" helps...

Scott
Adrian, MI


On Tue, 5 Oct 2004 Larry_Reynolds(--nospam--at)nps.gov wrote:

>
> I am reviewing a set of drawings for a Visitors Center at a remote location
> in Alaska.  This is an IBC-2000, Seismic Design Category C building.The
> structural engineer is proposing vinyl sheet piling spanning  between steel
> columns for the foundation wall.  The wall is braced for in-plane loads by
> diagonal steel straps attached to the steel columns. The columns are braced
> by the floor and roof diaphragms.  A steel channel spans between the tops
> of the columns.
>
> Due to the remoteness of the site, and the difficulty and expense of
> placing concrete at his location, this idea may have some merit.
> Environmental restrictions are such that an on-site batch plant is not
> allowed.
>
> I have searched IBC-2000 and IBC-2003 and could not find any restrictions
> on the use of this material.  On the other hand, I could not find where the
> code said this was an acceptable use of the material.
>
> Does anyone have any experience with this kind of application for vinyl
> sheet piling?  What are some of the problems we should look out for?  Among
> our concerns are performance at low temperatures, and seismic issues.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Larry Reynolds, P.E.
> National Park Service
>
>
>
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