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Should You Block Crawl Space Vents in the Winter?


Episode

To close or not to close the vents in your crawl space over the winter? It’s a choice that has sparked many opposing discussions over the years. A quick search online reveals good arguments on both sides, so it can be difficult to determine the best course of action. 

At Alpha Foundations, our primary service area is Florida and Georgia, which means we don’t have the freezing temperatures that hit northern states from fall through spring. In fact, it is rare for the temperature to drop below freezing. Plus, when it does, it doesn’t stay that cold for long. Thus, the need to keep crawl space vents closed to keep pipes from freezing isn’t as pressing.

Close Your Vents for Cold Snaps

Building codes require the installation of vents in crawl spaces. In summer, the vents facilitate air circulation under the floor, which reduces the buildup of moisture; this discourages the growth of mildew and rot. In the winter, the vents can be closed to reduce the risk of pipes freezing. It is simple and highly effective throughout the seasons. 

There is generally not much need to close the vents to protect pipes from freezing in Florida and Georgia. As such, most homeowners in the area can get by with manually closing the vents when cold snaps are in the forecast. This provides protection from the cold and freezing pipes, plus it gives you regular circulation that helps prevent mold and mildew growth. Since opening/closing the vents takes just a few minutes, it is a minor task that can be done at any time.

What Else Can You Do?

There is more you can do to protect your pipes from freezing. Again, many small steps add up to a giant leap in protection. First, make sure your pipes are properly insulated and that the crawl space itself is adequately insulated. Any fiberglass batts that are missing, waterlogged, or compacted should be replaced. It is best to replace insulation in the crawl space with rigid foam insulation. This foam will provide a solid layer of protection for your home. 

Likewise, it can be a good idea to keep your faucets dripping on cold days. This keeps the water flowing through your pipes, thus reducing the risk of frozen pipes. If you are really concerned, you can keep some electric heat cables on hand. These can be wrapped around the pipes and turned on when the temperature drops below freezing.

The bottom line is that if you close off your vents throughout winter in Florida or Georgia, you likely won’t have to worry about frozen pipes. But, our humid climate could lead to problems with mold and mildew. You can alleviate this risk by installing a dehumidifier in your crawl space, which can help keep the humidity in check until you reopen the vents in spring.

Keep Your Crawl Space Protected with Alpha Foundations

Have more questions about crawl space vents in Florida and Georgia? Contact Alpha Foundations at 800-714-3020, and we will be happy to give you the expert advice you need to make the best decision for your home!  

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