You may have heard that FEMA requires a vent with “1 square inch of opening per 1 square foot of enclosed area”, referring to vent dimensions in proportion to the space to be vented. This is only partially correct. FEMA Guidelines (as outlined in Technical Bulletin 1-08) do state that a non-engineered flood vent solution must (among other requirements) provide 1 sq. in. of opening per 1 sq. ft. of space vented. This is only in reference to non-engineered openings, however; all of our flood vent products are certified engineered openings. In accordance with the further guidelines of TB 1-08, our vents have been tested, rated, and certified for their coverage of 200 square feet per 16” x 8” unit by the International Code Council’s Evaluation Service (ICC-ES).
Engineered openings have been designed and tested as flood vents and are given a flood coverage rating based on performance. For example, SMART VENTS are ICC-ES Certified for 200 sq. feet of flood protection per 16” x 8” vent.
Non-engineered openings have not gone through any of the required testing, or any sort of flood testing for that matter, to qualify as an engineered flood vent and typically are solely intended for use as an air vent. Therefore, they are rated at the assumptive method of 1 net sq. inch of opening per 1 foot of enclosed area.
In addition to your Code Official and Surveyor requiring a certification, Insurance agents will request that property owners provide documentation as part of applications for NFIP flood insurance. The documentation should be attached to the Elevation Certificate.
The following are acceptable forms of documentation for engineered openings:
For ICC-ES Evaluated Flood Vents, simply attach a copy of the Evaluation Report to the Elevation Certificate and highlight the model or models used in the home. Liability of the vent falls on the manufacturer.
Without an ICC-ES Evaluation an individual certification is required for each home that the vents are installed in. The certification needs to be an original certification with the signature and raised or electronic seal of the designer who is licensed in the state where the building is located. This option is for a licensed architect or engineer to design a unique opening for use in one particular home. Liability of the vent falls on the individual architect or engineer certifying the product.
• Standard foundation air ventilation devices that can be closed manually, because they do not allow for the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters unless they are permanently disabled (broken) in the open position.
• Standard foundation air ventilation devices that have detachable solid covers that are intended to be manually installed over the opening in cold weather, because they do not allow for the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters when the cover is in place.
• Standard foundation air ventilation devices that are designed to open and close based on temperature (unless they also are designed to allow for the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters).
• Windows below the BFE, because the automatic entry and exit of floodwaters cannot be satisfied by the expectation that windows will break under rising floodwaters.
• Garage doors without openings installed in them, because human intervention is required to open the doors when flooding is expected. Gaps between the garage door and the doorjamb or walls do not count towards the net open area requirement.
• Standard exterior doors without openings installed in them.
For further information see the Unacceptable Measures Section on Page 19 of FEMA TB 1-08.
The International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council.
If you have Flood Insurance, your Insurance Agent should have your Elevation Certificate (EC) for your home on file. The data on the EC will directly reflect your Flood Insurance Premium. Compliant homeowners will receive the lowest premium available. If your premium seems high, your home is most likely non-compliant. A frequent red flag for structure compliance is proper flood openings.
On your EC, Section A8/A9 will tell you the square footage of your crawlspace/garage/etc., the number of flood openings you have, and the flood coverage they provide. If your coverage does not meet or exceed the square footage, this is deemed as non-complaint and will result in a high premium. Installing proper flood openings or “flood vents” will correct this issue. Contact your Insurance Agent for information on some other factors such as elevation of machinery, elevation of first livable floor, and Building Diagram type.
The NFIP Regulations and Building Codes require that any residential building constructed in Flood Zone Type A have the lowest floor, including basements, elevated to or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Enclosed areas (enclosures) are permitted under elevated buildings provided that they meet certain use restrictions and construction requirements such as the installation of flood vents to allow for the automatic entry and exit of flood waters. This wet floodproofing technique is required for residential buildings. Commercial buildings have
the option to wet floodproof, which can be more cost-effective compared to dry floodproofing.
Zoning can be determined by contacting a Certified Floodplain Manager at the Flood Risk Evaluator (F.R.E.) who can easily determine what flood zone your property is in by running your address through our patented software.
The Base Flood Elevation, or BFE, is the height of the base (1-percent annual chance) flood, usually in feet, in relation to the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929, the North American Vertical Datum of 1988, or other datum referenced in the Flood Insurance Study report, or average depth of the base flood, usually in feet, above the ground surface. The BFE was adopted by the National Flood Insurance Program as the basis for floodplain management and flood insurance regulations.
The term “100-year flood” can be confusing. It is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years. Rather, it is the flood that has a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded each year. Thus, the 100-year flood could occur more than once in a relatively short period of time or even within the same month. Because this term can be confusing, FEMA has also defined it as the “1-percent-annual-chance flood”. The “1-percent-annual-chance flood” is the term now used by most Federal and State agencies and by the National Flood Insurance Program.
Advisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFEs) provide a better picture of current flood risk than the existing Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), which in some cases are more than 25 years old. The new ABFEs are the recommended elevation of the lowest floor of a building. Some communities may require that the lowest floor be built above the ABFE.
The ABFEs are based on FEMA coastal studies that were completed before Hurricane Sandy. The studies include data that has been collected and analyzed over a number of years. Though advisory now, eventually information used to develop the ABFEs will be incorporated into official FIRMs.
The land area covered by the floodwaters of the base flood is the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) on NFIP maps. The SFHA is the area where the NFIP's floodplain management regulations must be enforced and the area where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies. The SFHA includes Zones A, AO, AH, A1-30, AE, A99, AR, AR/A1-30, AR/AE, AR/AO, AR/AH, AR/A, VO, V1-30, VE, and V.
What you do is pay extremely high flood insurance premiums. According to FEMA guidelines in Technical Bulletin 1-08, if all four sides of the structure are below grade by even one inch, the structure has a basement. In a flood zone, having a basement almost guarantees very high flood insurance rates. To lower your premium, you need to equalize the interior and exterior grade on at least one side of the house. The easiest way to do this is to either add fill to the inside of the basement until at least one wall is at or above exterior grade, or to dig-out the ground outside until it is at or below the interior grade (floor) level. This will turn your basement into a crawlspace, which (if properly vented) should have drastically lower flood insurance rates.
The vents were designed to be install with four stainless steel spring clips, (included in each package). These clips attach to the vent frame ( 2 on top and 2 on the bottom), to help create suction as the vent adhesive cures to the wall.
The adjustable spring arm of the clips should be on the outside of the vent frame and a bead of Hurribond adhesive (or equivalent) should be applied to the inside surface of the flange of the vent. Compress the bottom two clips and begin placing the vent into the rough opening making sure that the bottom of the vent is inserted first allowing the bottom spring clips to decompress. With the frame now in the opening and the bottom springs in place, compress the top springs and push the vent frame into the opening completely until the frame is flush with the wall.
NOTE: Be careful to avoid getting any of this adhesive onto any part of the frame but the back surface of this flange; you do not want to accidentally prevent the vent door from opening in case of flood.
For any assistance with placement of flood vents, please contact the Flood Plans Division, where our team of Certified Floodplain Managers and Engineers can review your property's plans and provide you with a customized vent layout and schedule.
View the video below for more information on this complimentary service:
For overhead (garage) doors, we recommend using Model 1540-524 or 1540-574.
We have developed these specific models to install easily and contain a mechanism to prevent the vent from opening when the door is lifted overhead.
For standard personnel doors, we recommend using Model 1540-570. NOTE:Be sure to only use stainless steel screws when fastening the flood vent to the door.
We have two primary models:
• The dual function model (SMART VENT – 1540-510)
provides 51 square inches of air ventilation opening in addition to 200 square feet of certified flood ventilation coverage. These vents would be almost exclusively used in unconditioned crawlspaces, where air ventilation is required in addition to any flood ventilation.
• The insulated flood-only model (FLOOD VENT – 1540-520)
provides no air ventilation and 200 square feet of certified flood ventilation coverage. These vents would be is appropriate for most other applications, as they provide only flood protection for garages, storage areas, walkout basements, conditioned crawlspaces, etc.
Our single model masonry vents are the size of a standard concrete masonry unit block (CMU), 16” wide x 8” tall. NOTE:we offer a few different assemblies to help reduce the amount of openings while still providing full coverage:
• We offer a stacked model vent being 16” wide x 16” tall and a stacked side-by-side vent, 32” wide x 16” tall.
• We also make a Wood Wall FLOOD VENT that is designed to fit between wood studs spaced on 16” centers that measures 14 ½ “ wide x 8 ½“ tall.
• For large commercial applications, we are able to design and manufacture custom mounting frames to contain various arrangements of vents in a single steel frame.
For more information on how to select the correct model, click to view the video below:
There are a variety of options for trimming the interior of the opening. We offer a stainless steel trim flange & inner sleeve kit to line the hole that you as the customer can paint without voiding the warranty. (Please do not attempt to paint the vent units themselves; this can void the warranty.) This option is adaptable to fit any wall depth from three to fifteen inches. Additionally, any variety of trim designs could be fabricated by a homeowner or contractor for the interior: for instance, a wood frame similar to those used for framing windows.
Yes. We have four standard colors, and can (for an additional fee, plus an approximately three week lead time) match almost any color needed for your application. We use enamel powder coatings designed for use in harsh environments. Our standard colors are: white, black, wheat and gray. Contact an Authorized SMART VENT Dealer for pricing and availability.
The insulated flood-only model (FLOOD VENT) has an insulated foam core (two inches thick, equivalent to a 8.34 R factor), and weather-stripping between the door and the frame.
The air-ventilated model (SMART VENT) contains louvers that rotate open in warm weather, and close as the weather cools. The SMART VENT lacks any weather-stripping. However, we have never had a vent returned for reasons of poor insulative quality.
If you are in an area such as Alaska or parts of New England where winter temperatures are especially low, you may want to use the insulated FLOOD VENT model, even if it is an unconditioned crawlspace (an approved vapor barrier is optimal for this solution).
On the Insulated Models, the only space through which insects could theoretically pass is the extremely narrow space between the vent door and frame. In these models, this space is lined with a thick weather-stripping, which should prevent any insects from entering. The air-ventilated SMART VENT model, meanwhile, has a set of internal louvers behind a rodent screen. The purpose of a rodent screen is to protect the opening from vermin without preventing the natural flow of air; as such, openings in the screen must fit a very narrow set of dimensions (between 1/4 and 3/8 inch). Our SMART VENT screen has 1/4-in. openings, the largest allowed by code to maximize airflow necessary to prevent undue mold, mildew, and other threats to the wellbeing of the residents of a building.
For the most part, yes. The dual function SMART VENT model also opens for air ventilation, but the door itself remains closed; louvers inside the door rotate open or closed in response to temperature changes. The insulated FLOOD VENT model is designed to open only in response to rising flood waters. The vents can be opened manually by inserting a credit card into the upper portion of each of the two slots on the front of the door, if inspection is necessary.
No. There are certainly other companies that make foundation vents, and some that claim that their vents are usable as foundation flood vents, but our vents are a FEMA Accepted & ICC-ES Evaluated engineered opening for flood venting. In fact, many of the vents that claim to be foundation flood vents do not comply with flood ventilation codes and FEMA guidelines, let alone having a certification.
Our vents are made from stainless steel, and are manufactured and assembled entirely in the United States. Additionally (and perhaps more importantly), each of our vents is an engineered flood opening certified for 200 square feet of flood protection. It is physically impossible for a non-engineered opening of comparable dimensions to provide as much coverage within FEMA guidelines; most air vents, in fact, provide less than 20% of that (overlooking that they do not fulfill other requirements of the flood code). Where a house may require 30-35 air vents to provide enough flood protection, about 8 of our vents would provide more than necessary. Our vents are cost-competitive with anything else we have seen on the market.