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Return vents are integral to your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC). Without enough return vents, your HVAC system would be hard-pressed to circulate the air inside your home.
Large homes should have at least one return vent in every room. For smaller homes, return vents should be placed in areas where there is higher footfall. Installing a return vent in every room can improve a home’s circulation and air quality, while also eliminating humidity.
In this article, I’ll explore why installing a return vent in each room is ideal and would help your HVAC system run better.
Why You Should Install Return Vents in Every Room
While smaller homes may require fewer return vents, it’s ideal for placing these vents in strategic locations throughout the house.
Hallways and bedrooms must have return vents as they are often occupied. Room doors are also closed most of the time, which cuts off access to the air circulating within that room. Without access, your HVAC system won’t be able to purify the air in that room.
Large homes benefit from having a return vent in every room as it eases the strain on the HVAC system to try and pull air out of every corner through fewer openings.
Here are a few reasons why installing a return vent in every room is a good idea:
Better Air Quality
The primary reason to install a return vent in each room is to ensure the air inside your home is clean and purified.
Some builders install one centralized return vent to facilitate airflow. This single vent gets strained whenever bedroom doors are closed as access to the air within the room is cut off. Your HVAC system gets ‘suffocated’ as there’s less air to extract from the room.
Remember, the HVAC is a closed-circuit system, and its job is to circulate the air within your home. So, when certain avenues are blocked off, your HVAC system will start to pull air from unwanted places.
The system may draw air from the attic, through cracks in the ceiling, or the chimney in your living room.
These air sources are often contaminated with pollutants and decrease the quality of air within your home. More importantly, it can lead to clogging the vent and the air ducts within your home.
Steady Temperature and Pressure
As mentioned, your HVAC system doesn’t draw air from outside your home. Instead, its job is to circulate the air that’s already within your house, condition it, and send it back to the rooms.
When you install vents in every room, the air is constantly being pumped in and out through the ducts. This continuous flow of air helps your HVAC to maintain a steady air pressure throughout the entire house.
The relationship between air pressure and temperature is directly proportional, which means that an increase in air pressure will increase temperature. By maintaining a steady pressure throughout the house, you also ensure that the temperature remains constant.
Your HVAC system pushes air through the ducts into different rooms and pushes it out through the vents installed. The HVAC uses return vents to pull unconditioned air out of the rooms and into the system, to be cooled and purified before pushing it out again.
This closed system is essential to ensure proper ventilation and clean air within your home. By installing a return vent in each room, you allow for the healthy circulation of air throughout your home.
By regulating temperatures within your home and ensuring the constant movement of cool air, your HVAC system prevents the build-up of humidity in any area of the house.
If you block off circulation in any room, it can lead to moisture retention in the area. By having a return vent in every room, you can prevent the build-up of humidity.
If left unchecked, excess humidity can damage your furniture over time and even aid in the growth and nurturing of harmful pathogens in the air.
Saves Energy and Money
When you have fewer return vents, your HVAC system works overtime to purify the air in your home. And when doors are locked, the pressure on your system builds up.
For starters, this build-up of pressure can lead to cracks in the wall around which your return vents are installed. As mentioned already, a blocked-off HVAC system will draw air from any opening possible.
This activity can lead to the system pulling air out of the attic through minor cracks in the ceiling, causing these cracks to widen over time.
More importantly, the presence of fewer return vents places an enormous strain on your HVAC system, causing it to draw more power in exchange for conditioning the air.
This excess strain, when prolonged, will cause your HVAC system to suffer over time, adversely impacting its performance and reducing its lifespan.
By installing a return vent in each room, you reduce the strain placed on your HVAC system as there is free flow of air into the ducts from anywhere in your house. As such, a return vent in every room can help improve air quality, maintain stable temperatures, and save you money.
Is It Bad To Cover Return Vents?
Return vents should be left open, so air can circulate freely. While you can place furniture in front of a return vent, avoid covering it with drapes, curtains, or any cloth material that will block the flow of air.
Similarly, you should also check that the return vents aren’t accumulating too much dust or debris. If they do, you may need to change the filters.
What Are the Most Important Places To Install a Return Vent?
The most important places to install a return vent are the bedrooms, the hallway, living room, and kitchen. You can also install them in any other area where people spend a significant amount of time, such as the laundry room, home office, or dining room.
While installing a return vent in every room can be time-consuming and expensive, you’ll be rewarded with clean air and stable temperatures throughout the year.
Multiple return vents also lower the strain on your HVAC system, leaving it running longer and saving you a sizable chunk of money on repairs.
- Tilson Homes: The Advantages of Air Returns in Every Room
- McLay Services: Myth – It is Not Necessary to Have Air Return Grills in Every Room
- Custom Mechanical: Three Things to Know About Your Return Vents
- Art Plumbing AC and Electric: Why do I Need Return Air Vents in Every Room?
- Brennan Heating: What is an HVAC System and How Does it Work?
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.