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What You Must Know About Vent Covers

By on Mar 23, 2017
What You Must Know About Vent Covers

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Vent covers are small but mighty items when it comes to both your HVAC system and your home’s décor. While most of your HVAC is hidden, the vents allow comfortable air to pass through your home. They are an important part of the system that heat and cools your home.

Often, we don’t put too much thought into these areas unless they stand in the way of a room’s décor, which sometimes they do. Coming in all shapes and sizes, it can either be a neutral look or an eyesore. They also can impact the overall health of your home. Here’s what you need to know about vent covers and how they function in the HVAC system.

Like the rest of your HVAC system, your ducts and vents may need an update to function optimally. Contact an HVAC pro today for up to four quotes from local contractors in your area for free.

Wall Vent Cover

Understanding Your Vent System

In your home, you have two types of vents, return and supply vents. As your HVAC system works to keep air in your home at a comfortable temperature, the return vents help get the air back to your system to continue regulating the temperature.

Cold Air Return Vents

Return vents can either be larger and more centrally located or they can be in every room. Most pros recommend that each room has a return vent. You can usually find these higher off the ground on an interior wall.

Return vents help to control the air pressure and flow throughout your household. Cold air return vents can help you save on energy costs by drawing in air that’s closer to the home’s temperature, as opposed to the hot summer air.

Supply Register Vents

Similarly to the return vents, all rooms in the home should have a supply register vent. These pathways allow the air from your HVAC to enter the room and change the temperature to your desired setting. These can be found on outer walls, under windows or on the floor. Keep in mind, the supply vents should be spaced separately from your return vent, so the air coming from the supply is not recirculated.

Vent Covers Or Grills

While both types of vents have an important role, they simply cannot be an empty hole in your wall or flooring. Air vent covers have an important function, to maintain airflow to a room and in some cases, remove impurities from the air. They also come in a variety of styles to help blend in with your room’s décor.

What You Must Know About Vent Covers

Cleaning Your Vent Covers

Regardless of style, a clean vent is important for the air quality and efficiency in your home. It’s recommended that you professionally clean your air ducts and vents once a year. The average cost to clean ducts and vents is $327, with most homeowners spending between $278 and $364. This will give your vents a thorough cleaning and ensure all bacteria, fungi and dust that can build up over time, is removed.

However, in high traffic areas, you may want to add vent cleaning to your weekly home maintenance routine. Here are some ways you can keep your vent covers free of debris between professional cleanings.

Floor Vent Covers

When thinking of high traffic areas, if you have vent covers on your floor, this may come to mind first. After all, people walking through are bound to move around dust and dirt that settle into the floor vent cover. If the vent is made of metal, unscrew it and you can simply put it in your dishwasher through a normal cycle. However, with new innovations in vent design, some are made in wood or vinyl to disguise themselves in the floor. These should not go in the dishwasher but rather, removed and manually cleaned with a floor cleaner.

Baseboard Vent Covers

In my home, most of our vents are located on the baseboard. Similarly to flooring vents, people walking in and out of a room can move debris towards the baseboard, ending up with dust bunnies inevitably around my baseboard. To start, vacuum or sweep the area to remove any additional dust. If you’re able to remove the vent covers, do so and follow the steps above. Older homes may have them permanently attached. If so, use a small cloth with cleaning solution to remove the dust between slats.

DIY Vent Cover

Vent Cover Décor

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When I moved into my home, I had old, brown vent covers that didn’t add any style to the room. I decided to switch a few of them to a contemporary white and what a big difference this small detail makes! The room looks cleaner and more stylish compared to before. If you’re looking for a décor upgrade for your room, but don’t want to spend a lot, consider changing your vent covers.

In-Store Options

Often, your local hardware store will carry a selection of vent covers for standard sizes; some more decorative than others. But if you’re looking to simply freshen up your look, this is the way to go. Don’t forget to measure your vent before you shop!

Vent Cover DIY

For those with unusual-shaped vents or who want something truly unique, you can DIY your new vent cover. This works best with return air vents. A simple doormat can be used to transform the look. See this tutorial from Debbie Doo’s on how you can complete this project.

Decorative Vent Cover


Your vent covers are an important part of your HVAC system. They require proper care and regular maintenance like other areas of your home. Use a few of these tips to keep them looking and working their best.

Interesting in learning more about your HVAC? Read 13 Shocking Facts About Your HVAC System.

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