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Should Air Vents be High or Low?

Most homeowners don’t give the placement of the air vents a second thought. But, these openings are usually in particular places for a reason — optimal airflow. Here we’ll discuss what air vents are found in the home, the pros and cons of vents on the floor and ceiling, and whether the placement matters.

Air Supply Register and Return Grill Basics

Even the most well-maintained HVAC system won’t be able to efficiently and effectively heat or cool your home without the air supply and return vents. These key parts of your home might not appear to be doing anything, but they’re working away day and night.

Each room should have a supply and return vent

These vents essentially circulate the conditioned air in each room and the home. But, depending on the build, some homes don’t have both. Make sure there’s enough space under the room’s door to allow airflow to circulate out.

Supply vents should be installed on outer walls and under windows for ideal heating and cooling comfort. Return vents should be across the room(s) on interior walls. If the vents are too close together, the air won’t be able to properly circulate since the return vent pulls the conditioned air back into the ductwork and HVAC system.

To ensure the most efficient airflow between the vents, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t block the vents with furniture or other household objects; and
  • Leave the supply vents open in every room, including unused rooms, to avoid increasing the pressure inside the ducts.

How do supply and return vents work?

Simply, they create a circular airflow pattern in a room when the HVAC system is running.

Supply vents

These vents send the conditioned air into the rooms; if you hold your hand in front of a vent and feel air coming out, it’s a supply vent. Supply vents are normally located toward the top of a wall or on the ceiling.

Return vents

These are the vents pulling air from the rooms back into the HVAC system. Return vents are normally larger than supply vents and located toward the bottom of a wall, near a floorboard. But the location is dependent on your home’s ductwork. Since returns pull air into the HVAC, you can help improve your indoor air quality by periodically cleaning the grill.

What’s the Difference Between Air Vents, Registers & Grills?

An air vent is the term most commonly used for the supply and returns in your home. A register covers the supply vent and has a damper to control the amount of air flow into a room and its direction. Grills, or sometimes grilles, are the covering on a return vent and can have a build-up of dust and debris because of the air flowing into the return.

Floor Vent Pros

  • Blend into decor: Floor vents can blend in with the home’s decor because of their general contemporary look.
  • Give back ceiling space: Using floor vents is a good way to regain ceiling space in homes with flat ceilings or that need plenty of ductwork.

Floor Vent Cons

  • Not aesthetically pleasing: Most floor vents are painted metal, usually the same color as the doors and trim. If the paint chips, the vent may stick out like a sore thumb.
  • Sudden noise: Unless floor vents are properly installed, they may rattle and make noise when the HVAC fan starts and while blowing air through the ducts.

Ceiling Vent Pros

  • Appearance: Ceiling vents take up less space than floor vents and are easier to blend into your home’s decor. Plus, their higher location means most people won’t notice them after a while.
  • Effective cooling: Because ceiling vents have less airflow resistance, they deliver cool, conditioned air more quickly and with slightly more efficiency.

Ceiling Vent Cons

  • Inefficient heating: Since heat rises, it won’t effectively sink to the living area. The blower fan in the HVAC system won’t be able to compensate for this natural occurrence.
  • Reduced airflow: Homes with low ceilings or short ductwork connecting between the furnace and overheat vents can have up to 15% less airflow. This causes a reduction in heat transfer.

It all depends on your personal needs

Before deciding which vent placement is better for your home, consider the climate where you live. Homes that use more air conditioning may benefit more from ceiling vents, while homes in heat dependent climates may see more benefit from floor vents. Regardless of your ideal placement, the vents should be located near the center of the room. This makes it easier for the HVAC system to provide ample heating and cooling to the home.

The question of should air vents be high or low really comes down to the climate and whether the vents are installed by trained professionals. Call Adeedo today for heating or air servicing.

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