Client Login

Industry News

Simple Retrofitting Can Save Money...and Your Home

Hurricane Katrina drove 4 feet of water into Bruce Colby's Slidell, Louisiana, garage and 1 foot of water into his home. Colby's neighbors' garage doors will have to be replaced due to structural damage. But Colby's garage doors are intact and his home is structurally sound.

Colby wasn't just lucky. He installed three International Code Council (ICC)-certified flood vents before Katrina. But protecting his home was not the main reason Colby installed the flood vents. Saving on flood insurance was. 'My agent told me to get flood vents and so I did an Internet search.' Colby found an ICC-certified flood vent. ICC certification means the vent was rigorously tested for performance under flood conditions, including debris-filled flood waters that could clog ordinary vents.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders in special flood hazard areas (SFHA) may qualify for reduced premium rates by installing FEMA-approved flood vents for residential basements, crawl spaces, garages, and other enclosed structures that are below the base flood elevation (BFE). Unlike air vents, flood vents are designed to open during flooding to allow water flow and pressure to equalize. Normally these vents are closed to keep out animals and moisture. Some models are sealed, allowing for air conditioned space on the interior. Other models are temperature sensitive, opening during hot weather to allow air circulation. The key feature is that the vent will open during a flood to allow the free flow of water through the structure.

This is important because, if the floodwater cannot equalize quickly enough, its pressure can blow out doors and windows, increasing flood damages. Pressure from flood waters in enclosures that are not properly vented may compromise the entire structure, resulting in the home being condemned. Proper flood venting will prevent this kind of loss.

Colby paid $600 for his three flood vents and saves $700 every year in flood insurance premiums because of them. That is a $2,900 net savings over 5 years, a tidy return on his $600 outlay for the flood vents. The fact that his garage survived and his home is structurally sound despite Katrina's wrath underscores the real value of proper flood venting. A ride through his devastated community illustrates what happened to many and could have happened to him.

Says Colby: 'I don't know anyone who has a flood vent. No one around here knew what they were. I guess it will all change now.'

Reprinted with the permission of Janice Roper-Graham, Managing Partner of Outreach Process Partners.