AC vent covers never get much attention, and when they do, it’s often not favorable. Those rectangular grilles of crisscrossing metal slats that are often conspicuously visible in any room aren’t generally an asset to interior decor. However, the AC vent covers play an important role in maintaining balanced airflow from the central AC and furnace as well as keeping temperatures consistent throughout the house.
Supply vs. Return AC Vent Covers
Most rooms have two types of vents: supply and return. Usually these vents will be located on opposite sides of the room in order to create a cross-flow of air.
- Supply vents, typically located on an upper portion of a wall, are the portals that deliver cooled or heated air into each room. These vents usually have adjustable slats called registers that control the volume and direction of airflow entering the room.
- Return vents convey air back to the central air handler for cooling or heating. Returns may be located on a lower portion of the opposite wall or, in some cases, even in the floor. They do not have moveable slats and cannot be adjusted nor closed. A smaller home may not include return vents in each room. Instead, a single, central return will be located in a hallway to serve all rooms.
Maintenance for AC Vent Covers
Both supply and return vent covers can be vacuumed to remove dust accumulation. If the vents are excessively dusty or dirty, it may be advisable to remove the vent cover from the wall for cleaning. Most are secured by only two screws. Once the vent cover is removed, it may be cleaned in a sink or even run through a dishwasher. Professional vent cleaning that includes vacuuming ductwork inside the vent is also available. Ask your HVAC contractor for more information.
Make sure that the slats in supply vents remain open at all times. Closing off supply air into a room is not advisable, as it can unbalance airflow into all rooms in the system.
For more information about the use and care of vent covers, ask the professionals at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.