You might notice a few return vents in your home. They are larger than supply vents that deliver cold air to your home in the summer. They’re also usually installed along the wall close to the ground or ceiling and not on the floor. Why do you have these return vents, and why should you ensure that you don’t block them with furniture? We’ll explain return vents below.
Your HVAC System
If you have return air vents, you have what is called a forced-air system. Your air conditioner or furnace change the temperature of your air and then pump that air throughout your house. However, when your system pumps air into a space, it also has to let the old air escape, or it would just be increasing the pressure in the room. The return vent allows the air to escape and actually lets it run back to the air conditioner or the furnace. Here, the air is conditioned by the appliance, either heated or cooled, and then sent back into the home. In this way, the air is forced in a circular motion through your home, and the return vent is an important part of that cycle.
You may notice that your return vents cannot be closed, unlike the supply vents that deliver the air. That’s because there is no reason to close them. Doing so would not change the temperature of your home and could only interfere with the proper flow of air in your house.
You may also notice that you have roughly one or two return air vents per floor. That’s normal, but it’s not necessarily good. A return vent is much larger than the supply vents and does allow more air than the supply vent, but potentially not enough to balance the system. It may be wise for you to ask your HVAC technician to consider the design of your vent system and if adjustments could make it more energy-efficient or make the temperature in your home more consistent.
Caring For Your Return Air Vents
Your return air vents don’t need much, but you can make them work better and therefore protect your HVAC system by doing the following:
- Keep them clear: Don’t place furniture near your return vents, don’t allow other objects to pile up in front of them either.
- Clean the vents: Dust and debris will collect on the vents. To maintain proper airflow and to protect your HVAC units from the debris, you should regularly clean your vents.
- Change the filters: Some return air vents have filters that can prevent dust and debris from entering the ducts. You should change these regularly if you have them.
- Clean the ducts: It is also useful to clean your air ducts regularly to promote proper airflow through the system. Otherwise, the dust and debris from the return air vents end up gathering inside them, sometimes piling inches thick.
Do you have further questions about your air vents, or do you think they’ve been blocked or clogged? Reach out to an HVAC technician for support.