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Flood Vents

Homes in flood-prone areas need foundation flood vents for more safety. How can flood vents make your home safer during a flood?

SmartVent flood vents installed on a home with bushes and rocks

Avoiding Foundation Problems with Foundation Flood Vents

If you live in a flood-prone area, you may need foundation flood vents to maintain your home’s integrity. It may seem counterintuitive, but allowing floodwater to run freely into and out of your home’s basement or crawl space through a specialized vent can actually reduce the amount of flood damage your home receives once a flood occurs.

This is exactly why foundation flood vents have become a more effective and useful method of avoiding flood issues in homes that rest in certain areas. Here’s everything you need to know about flood vent requirements, usage, and how they benefit your home.

What Are Flood Vents?

If you don’t want water in your home under any circumstance, why would you choose to let it in during floods? Unlike open vents that freely invite water, moisture, and pests into your home all the time, flood vents only swing open during certain flooding situations.

Anytime there is a flood threatening your home, water pressure on the inside and outside needs to equalize fast enough. Otherwise, your doors and windows could blow out. This pressure can also weaken your foundation, rendering it unsafe to live in. Many studies show that homes with proper vents survive floods while those without tend to collapse.

How Do Flood Vents Work?

Here’s how flood vents work to effectively keep your home safe.

  • Internal Float Mechanism 

The biggest element of a proper flood vent is its internal float mechanism. Essentially, once the water gets to a certain point, the flood vent tips up. That way, water can flow through the flood vent completely unimpeded. Once the water level lowers again, the flood vent goes back to its original level.

This internal float mechanism is crucial to the flood vent’s efficient manner. Not only does it allow water to flow through easily, negating the issues with debris stopping up grates, but it also does so without using any electricity or other methods of opening and closing. It’s one of the most effective and simple methods of handling the flood vent concept. 

  • Equalizing Water Pressure

The idea behind a flood vent is to equalize water pressure on both sides of your foundation. Essentially, the issue stems from how much hydrostatic pressure builds up due to floodwaters. If you allow that pressure to continue building up outside your foundation, it’s going to eventually burst, which can require a foundation repair expert to fix it.

However, if you instead allow water through the foundation, you’ll have the same amount of hydrostatic pressure on both sides. This means both sides will end up with massive amounts of pressure, which essentially cancels each other out. That’s why a flood vent can ensure that you don’t have lasting foundation damage.

  • Vented and Sealed Options 

Flood vents come in two options: vented options and sealed options. This can help you adapt directly to whichever crawl space you have. If you have a crawl space with vents already, you can replace those vents with a SMART VENT flood vent, which may work best when you use it as an air vent as well.

However, open vents in your crawl space tend to just make moisture problems worse. You may want to look into crawl space encapsulation on top of installing flood vents. If you can get both of these projects done at once, you’re more likely to end up with a healthy crawl space and a healthy home in general.

Foundation Repair Solutions

Why Would My Home Require Flood Vents?

Besides controlling floods, these devices help you meet building code and fulfill FEMA plus National Flood Insurance Program requirements. The FEMA Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 was a reform act that worked to avoid some problems with flood insurance that existed at the time. There were many flood insurance rates that were artificially low due to certain discounts. The act helped change flood insurance rates to reflect the true risk.

Due to this reform act and other laws, there are also certain requirements your home may need to meet if you live in certain flood-prone areas of the United States. One of these requirements is foundation vents that are FEMA-accepted and ICC-ES certified.

If your home sits on a floodplain, you may have to take flood insurance to protect your home. Insurance policies rate homes without flood openings severely. And this results in higher premiums. So, adding proper flood openings can make you compliant and reduce your flood insurance costs.

Additional Benefits of Flood Vents

Flood vents are great options for a variety of homeowners. Here are some things foundation repair experts will consider in determining whether flood vents may be the right option for your home.

  • Generalized Benefits 

The most obvious benefit of a flood vent is that it’s extremely effective at keeping crawl spaces and basements safe if you live in an area with serious flooding problems. Many people live in these flood-prone places, especially on the East Coast, and a flood vent can help you avoid serious problems like shattered foundations from floodwater pressure.

This method of flood handling can seem counterintuitive, especially if you’ve never experienced the terrifying power of a flood. However, allowing water to run through a foundation instead of requiring it to run up against it is easily the best way to avoid serious foundation problems. Flood vents can help you avoid generalized foundation damage from floods.

Additionally, flood vents for crawl spaces come with insulation and weather stripping, which enhance the energy efficiency of your crawl space, and home at large. You can use them in your newly constructed home or as a retrofit. Since they’re made from stainless steel, they’re resistant to corrosion. Various sizes are available to fit standard crawl space vent openings.

  • Swinging Versus Grated Vents 
crawl space ventilation

Some homeowners have grated vents on their foundations instead of ones that swing open and closed freely. A grated vent seems like a good idea in theory: You install the vent, and it uses the grate to allow water in and out while keeping everything else on one side or the other. Many people believe grated vents are the best method of handling floods.

However, grated vents can cause problems almost immediately. The biggest problem typically arises when debris stops up the grate. Even just a few too many leaves can make your flood vent completely stop working. We recommend other swinging flood vents that avoid that problem because they tilt open or closed rather than requiring water to run through a grate.

  • For Homes with Flood Insurance 

If you have flood insurance, you almost certainly need flood vents on your foundation. Otherwise, just about no one is going to insure your home, even if you don’t legally need it, for whatever reason. However, it’s not only about whether you don’t have vents. It’s also about which flood vents you have on your home.

Additionally, proper flood vents are so effective and safe that most people see a huge reduction in flood insurance policies when they install these flood vents. Among homeowners with premium reduction after flood vent installation, there is an average savings of 83%. That could easily pay for itself, especially if you already have an expensive policy.

FAQs About Flood Vents

Look at local maps and online services to see if you’re in a flood-prone area. Many communities also have local information to show you whether or not you’re in a flood-prone areas. If in doubt, call a city representative or a landscaping professional.

Yes, in fact, it’s better to work with a professional for flood vent installation. Make sure whoever you choose is a licensed professional with a trusted reputation.

Create a Better Flood Damage Response with Flood Vents

Even aside from potential legal requirements, it’s easy to see why so many homeowners have equipped their homes with flood vents. These vents are easy to use because you don’t really need to do anything for them to work. Plus, they may be able to reduce your flood insurance premiums and keep your home safe in case of an emergency.

If you want to install flood vents, you need to talk to a basement, foundation, and crawl space repair expert in your area first. These professionals can complete an inspection of your crawl space or basement to make sure flood vents are a great option for your home’s unique challenges. Additionally, an expert will be able to give you other tips for better home health overall.

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