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HVAC Basics: Installing And Replacing Foundation Vents

Replacing foundation vents is important to keeping your home’s HVAC systems working properly. Passive airflow in your home is the unsung hero that keeps your indoor environment fresher, and foundation vents achieve that by inhibiting mold and mildew growth. As we previously mentioned, those with allergies would be most vulnerable to mold and mildew growth in the home and thus, the importance of foundation vents cannot be understated.

When you’re waiting on a new house to be built, it’s a good idea to talk with the site boss about proper basement or crawl space ventilation. While the foundation is being laid, the builders will already have a blueprint to work with based on the specifications that were discussed or to model.

However, if you purchased an older home with a basement that is dank and musty, it may be a good idea to reevaluate and possibly think about replacing foundation vents and determine whether they need to be replaced and/or if more need to be added.

Guide For Replacing Foundation Vents

Say you get lucky and the only thing you have to do is replace the existing foundation vents. The tools you will need for this job include:

  • Safety Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Wire Brush
  • Bucket
  • Hammer
  • Trowel
  • Cold Chisel
  • Quick-Drying Mortar

After putting on your safety goggles and gloves, proceed with the below steps.

  1. Remove the Existing Foundation Vent. If a foundation vent is barely hanging on, it can be as easy as simply pulling it out of the foundation from the outside. However, if it is still mortared in place, chisel the mortar along the outside of the vent until it is loose. It may be necessary to chisel some mortar off on the inside. Pull on the center of the vent to remove.
  2. Clean the Foundation Vent Hole. Use the chisel and hammer to remove any remaining mortar. Once the bulk of it is removed, scour the remaining mortar off of the perimeter of the hole with the wire brush.
  3. Prep for New Vent Installation. Mix water and the quick-drying mortar to manufacturer’s specifications. The consistency of the mix should resemble thin pancake batter.
  4. Install New Foundation Vent. Apply a ¼” thick layer or mortar along the inside perimeter of the hole. Insert the foundation vent into the hole, and then apply a layer less than ½ of an inch along the outside of the vent. Optimal coverage should overlap the edges of the vent as well as well as inside the foundation vent hole an inch on each side.

Proper Vent Maintenance After Installation

Maintaining proper ventilation in your home’s soffits and foundation vents is crucial for preventing moisture buildup, mold growth, and structural damage. Here are some best practices for homeowners:

  1. Regular Inspection: Schedule regular inspections of your soffit vents and foundation vents, ideally at least once a year. Look for any signs of damage, blockages, or debris accumulation.
  2. Clear Debris: Clear any debris such as leaves, dirt, or insects that may have accumulated in the vents. Use a vacuum cleaner, soft brush, or compressed air to remove debris without damaging the vents.
  3. Check for Blockages: Ensure that the vents are not blocked by any obstructions, such as insulation, vegetation, or debris. Blocked vents can restrict airflow and cause moisture buildup.
  4. Repair Damage: Inspect the vents for any signs of damage, such as cracks, holes, or corrosion. Repair or replace damaged vents promptly to maintain proper ventilation.
  5. Seal Gaps: Check for any gaps or openings around the vents where pests or moisture could enter. Seal any gaps with caulk or foam insulation to prevent air leakage and intrusion.
  6. Monitor Moisture Levels: Keep an eye on moisture levels in your home’s crawl space or attic, where soffit and foundation vents are often located. Excessive moisture can indicate ventilation problems that need to be addressed.
  7. Ensure Proper Installation: Make sure that soffit and foundation vents are installed correctly according to local building codes and manufacturer guidelines. Improper installation can lead to ventilation issues and structural problems.
  8. Consider Vent Covers: In areas prone to extreme weather or pest infestations, consider installing vent covers or screens to protect the vents while still allowing airflow. Make sure the covers are designed to allow adequate ventilation.
  9. Maintain Gutters and Downspouts: Properly functioning gutters and downspouts help prevent water from accumulating around the foundation of your home, reducing the risk of moisture problems. Keep gutters clean and repair any leaks or damage promptly.
  10. Professional Inspection: If you’re unsure about the condition of your soffit vents or foundation vents, or if you suspect ventilation issues, consider hiring a professional inspector to assess the situation and recommend appropriate solutions.

By following these best practices for soffit and foundation vent maintenance, you can help ensure proper ventilation in your home, prevent moisture-related problems, and maintain a healthy indoor environment.

Louvered replacing Foundation Vents with Damper - Painted - 6 x 16 inch, White

How FAMCO Can Help

FAMCO is one of the largest manufacturers of HVAC accessories and home ventilation products. We have a wide variety of foundation vents, some with dampers included, others painted, and come in painted, galvanized, and aluminum. We also support everyone from the weekend DIYer to firms building a new subdivision. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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