Your Vents Are Below Grade!

By
Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

 With an unconditioned crawl space an inspector does not want to see the vents below grade. When vents are below grade, rain and runoff water are likely to run into the crawl space -- which is something you do not want. Also, if they are far enough below grade, the dirt can actually block the vents so air will not circulate. When home inspectors see this condition, they usually recommend vent wells. Sometimes people do not know what vent wells are. The most simple vent wells consist of frames made from pressure-treated lumber. However, vent wells, specially made for the purpose, can be purchased. A photo of a very neat looking plastic vent well is in the photo below. You will notice that, also in the photo, the vent is blocked with plugs. Although this is sometimes justified in winter, when there is danger to pipes from severe temperatures, in Washington State blocked vents in an unconditioned crawl space are defined by the WSDA as conducive to attracting wood destroying organisms. A state licensed structural pest inspector is heavily regulated by the state.

 

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www.kingofthehouse.com

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA home inspector

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Comments 9 New Comment

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Rainmaker
297,173
Ryan Hukill - Edmond
Realtor
ShowMeOKC Team of Paradigm AdvantEdge
I really appreciate home inspector posts.  We can never be too informed about what things you guys really look for.  It helps us prepare our clients at times.
January 09, 2008 10:22 PM
Rainmaker
1,177,601
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Thanks Ryan,

Glad you find them helpful. I find, when relaxing after an inspection, that it is fun to look at the photos and say: "So what is here that I can write about that someone might actually care about?" It is always good to get positive feedback that someone found a post worthwhile.

January 09, 2008 10:27 PM
Ambassador
1,067,602
Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Unfortunately we find these vents compromised or eliminated in all kinds of ways.  Patios and decks covering them, dryer vents run through them. buried with dirt, stuffed with insulation on the inside, plugged with weed whacker debris---not to mention holes cut for wires and hoses that can let vermin into the crawl space as well.

January 09, 2008 11:40 PM
Rainer
112,847
Ryan Martin
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc.
Steve - That is a tough one because a lot of homes that I see do have below grade vents. In fact, I can think of two that I have at my house right now. I try to keep them clear of debris and make sure that the screens are in good condition.
January 10, 2008 12:38 PM
Ambassador
1,067,602
Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.
Ryan, I am sure Steve will chime in on this too but it is ok that vents are below grade---as long as they are kept clear of debris, don't facilitate water running into the crawl space, and provide adequate air flow as intended/required.
January 10, 2008 01:10 PM
Rainmaker
1,177,601
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Ryan,

I agree with Charlie. The key is that all those conditions he set forth must be met. And, in my experience, usually the easiest solution, taking only a few minutes per below grade vent, is the well. The thing is, you really do not want water getting into the crawl space. Some people get the vent open by removing soil right in front of it, but in effect they make a slope, like a hill, that water runs down right into the crawl space.

January 10, 2008 01:45 PM
Rainer
112,847
Ryan Martin
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc.
I imagine that I am in the clear. I have gravel around the vents, so the water does run through the screens.
January 11, 2008 03:21 PM
Rainmaker
1,177,601
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Ryan,

Do you mean "does not" run through the screens. If you have water going thru the screens, at all,  put in some wells.

Steve

January 11, 2008 05:32 PM
Rainer
112,847
Ryan Martin
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc.
LOL... Yes, I meant "does not" run through the screen. I don't have any rivers flowing under my house.
January 11, 2008 05:57 PM
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Rainmaker
1,177,601

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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