Installing Automatic Foundation Vents

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What You'll Need
Automatic foundation vents
Claw hammer

Old foundation vents must be opened and closed manually. Though these vents may still be operational decades after they were first installed, many homeowners replace the vents with the automatic version.

Automatic foundation vents open and close with a metal coil. They save you from having to open and close the vents on your own. Automatic foundation vents cost less than $20 and can be found at your local home improvement store.

Step 1 - Remove the Foundation Vents

The only way to remove an old foundation vent is to release it from the mortar that holds it in place. Chisel away the mortar around the vent and remove it with a claw hammer.

If you have a small stool, place it in front of the old vent so that you can sit while you work; otherwise, I wear knee pads. Lightly tap the chisel with the hammer to remove the mortar. Remove all of the mortar so that you don’t tear up the brick when you remove the vent. Pry the old vent out of place with the claw on the hammer.

Step 2 - Clean the Opening

Now that the vent has been removed, use the chisel to tap out the rest of the mortar from the large rectangular opening. Be careful not to damage any of the brick which surrounds the opening.

Step 3 - Set the New Vent in Place

Measure the opening before you purchase an automatic vent. Ensure that the vent can actually be installed in the hole. Measure the opening before you begin the project so that you don’t have to visit the home improvement store to replace the vent.

The installation depends on the specific automatic vent. Most of them work pretty much the same way. There will be 4 metal clips and 4 pointed screws. This hardware should be included with the vent at the time of purchase.

Set the clips in place and set the new vent. With the vent in place, screw-in the vent to secure it. Don’t tighten the screws until the vent is flush with the brick.

Step 4 - Repair Damage to the Bricks

Once the vent is in place and secured, ensure that you haven’t caused any damage to the brick. Take care during the process to leave the bricks intact. You would be surprised how easily the mortar or the actual brick can be damaged. If you have damaged any of the mortar joints, repair them immediately.

Now you have an automatic foundation vent that doesn’t have to be manually opened and closed. You can set it then forget all about it, and your foundation will be adequately ventilated.