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Ask Mr. Crawlspace

I am building a new house, so should I arrange to have vent holes put in my foundation?

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Congratulations on building a new home. There are so many things to consider, and wise planning now will add years of enjoyment and savings later. Structural considerations aren’t the most fun part of planning, but they are certainly tops in terms of importance.

To vent or not to vent

The question just keeps coming up. The answer is no. Unless you are building in an area of the country that mandates venting, you don’t need to put holes in your foundation. Rain, humidity and condensation are always going to happen. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches by deciding now on an effective moisture management plan. Sealing the crawl space is one part of an overall strategy for eliminating moisture and related problems in the space.

Stay ahead of moisture problems in your crawl space

It isn’t living space, but the crawlspace has a pretty big impact on your home’s living area. This is particularly true of the first floor, where efforts to maintain comfortable temperatures and good air quality are directly related to the condition of the crawl space below. Moisture creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive. Unfortunately, spores and odors don’t stay put. They rise into your living space. Structural damage is also of concern. Over time wood, including joists and floors, is vulnerable to persistent moisture. Buckling, rotting and warping are common, and expensive, consequences.

Seal the deal

Again, choosing not to install vents in your home’s foundation (if not required by code) is a good start on your moisture prevention strategy. Seal the deal by addressing all potential sources of moisture. Talk with your builder about closing your crawl space. You should also give special attention to grading as well as how your downspouts and gutters are positioned. The last thing you want is for runoff water to seep in through foundation cracks.

The final word

Unless they are required by code in your area of the country, you do not need to install vent holes. Talk with your builder or mason about installing the foundation without openings. You should also explore options for moisture control in the crawl space. Since you are building, now is the perfect time to anticipate all the ways moisture (water, condensation, humidity) could potentially enter your home. Use that information to develop a moisture management plan that saves money and helps you enjoy your home many for years to come. Good luck.

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