Flood vents are required in foundations built below Base Flood Elevation (BFE) in a flood zone.
Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters, except fire. Here in New Jersey, we have experienced loss of life and heavy property damage from severe coastal flooding. We have more than our fair share of Nor’easters, powerful winter storms that typically form between October and April, traveling up the Atlantic seaboard. Also, numerous hurricanes (tropical cyclones) and tropical storms originating in the Atlantic Ocean have passed through our state.
Having SmartVent® Flood Vents installed can help to prevent your foundation from being severely damaged by floodwaters. Flood vent installation also has the potential to lower your flood insurance premium significantly.
New Jersey homeowners who had their premiums lowered after flood vent installation enjoyed an average savings of 83% on their flood insurance policies.
Contact Cowleys Pest Services today to request an on-site consultation to have SmartVent® foundation flood vents installed in your home. We offer free estimates for flood vent installation in Toms River, Edison, Brick, Trenton and nearby - call us or click below to request yours!
Always assume that floodwater is contaminated with pathogens. Property damage from floods includes loss of personal property from water damage, damage to foundations, loose plaster, sewage and water line damage, and electrical system damage/fire hazards from broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, and other issues.
Another major cause of property damage from flooding that is not understood by many homeowners is hydrostatic pressure. It sounds like fancy jargon that only needs to be understood by scientists and engineers. That is not the case. If you own a home in an area susceptible to flooding, hydrostatic pressure is of vital interest to you.
So, let’s cut to the chase. What is it? Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure created by standing water that is pushed against some barrier. Water is a surprisingly heavy fluid, weighing in at 60 pounds per cubic foot. Hydrostatic pressure is a natural force that is strong enough to move rocks, destroy dams, buckle retaining walls, and wreck havoc with your home’s concrete foundation. With hydrostatic pressure, it’s helpful to think of your home’s foundation as a big concrete boat that’s been built right into the soil. When your “boat’s” surrounding soil becomes saturated with water, tens of thousands of pounds in hydrostatic pressure are exerted on your foundation. If your foundation wasn’t so heavy, it would pop right out of the ground! (In fact, this can and does happen with inground swimming pools.)
With that much pressure, even the smallest gap or crack is enough to let in large quantities of water inside your home. And with high water pressure, any existing gaps or cracks quickly become worse. Your concrete foundation may look and feel solid, but it’s not solid like stainless steel or marble. Concrete is a paste made of water, cement, and sand and stone or gravel that hardens after it is set. While concrete is solid when dry, it contains a network of small capillaries that can carry water. Low-strength concretes found in older homes are highly porous and even the newer high-strength concretes cannot prevent flood damage. While they are able to resist higher levels of water pressure, there will still be a significant water intrusion if cracks form or the hydraulic pressure builds high enough. Homeowners should be aware that any concrete placed below the soil line can be damaged or destroyed by hydraulic pressure, and those homes built in flood zones and in high water tables are especially susceptible.
You can’t fight hydrostatic pressure. Instead, to protect your home, you have to take steps to relieve hydrostatic pressure. For normal amounts of precipitation, homeowners can take minor steps like ensuring proper drainage around the home such as extending downspouts away from the foundation. Even better protection would be waterproofing your crawl space or basement using concealed interior drains and a heavy-duty sump pump. The lower the hydrostatic pressure around your foundation, the lower the potential for subgrade leaks and water damage to your home.
During a flood, it’s better to equalize water pressure than to fight it. Flood vents (shown at right) can help avoid severe foundation damage by allowing flood waters to pass through foundation walls rather than pounding against them.
Sometimes the amount and intensity of water can overwhelm even the tightest and strongest basements and crawl spaces. There is little that man can do to stop the force of floodwater during a powerful storm. However, you can take one important preventative step to prevent your foundation from suffering extreme damage or collapsing altogether from flooding: Installing Smart Vents to relieve hydrostatic pressure.
Smart Vents are foundation flood vents that equalize dangerous home-destroying water pressure through a process called “wet floodproofing” that allows water to freely flow though crawls spaces and basements. By doing so, these vents have proven to be amazingly effective in protecting the foundations of homes and buildings built in floodplains. These special vents do not require any human intervention and no electricity is needed. They operate passively on their own, triggered by floodwater levels. The vent door is latched closed until flood water is present. Rising flood water activates patented internal floats, which unlatch and pivot open the vent, releasing water. The vents provide a 3-inch clearance to allow small debris and trash to easily pass. This 3-inch opening is required to meet the International Code Council’s criteria for flood vents.
In contrast, typical air vents work poorly as flood vents. Because they easily clog with sediment, flood water has no place to go. It will either be retained in your home or against the outside of the foundation. Water pressure will continue to build as the pressure gradient increases. Inevitably, the foundation will crack or completely collapse. Smart Vents minimize flood damage by keeping the inside and outside water pressure equalized.
Smart Vents have models for both vented crawl spaces as well as insulated, weather-stripped vents for basements and sealed crawl spaces. The models for vented crawl spaces adjust to temperature change by themselves using a temperature-sensitive bimetal coil that expands and contracts so the vent louvers do not need to be opened and closed manually. If air vents are used as flood vents in a flood zone, they must be kept permanently open at all times. Also, a single SmartVent® protects 200 sq. ft. of enclosed area, so you don’t need as many vents. Eighteen air vents would be needed to release the same volume of water (assuming they didn’t clog!) as only six Smart Vents can release, and air vents cannot release the water pressure as quickly.
Smart Vents are constructed of stainless steel so they are strong enough to keep out gnawing rodents that can easily chew through the thin mesh on air vents. They are compliant with FEMA and the NFIP regulations. Finally, Smart Vents come with a significant financial benefit. They can significantly lower your flood insurance premiums.
Be safe and smart about flood protection. Call today for your free foundation inspection and SmartVent® flood vent estimate in Brick, Lakewood, Freehold, Piscataway, New Brunswick, Princeton, Jackson or nearby. In addition to our pest control and flood vent solutions, Cowleys Pest Services offers a wide range of additional services in New Jersey - click to learn more!