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In a previous posting, we discussed the basics of vents, registers, and air grilles. This article deals with some of the various gadgets you may use along with your vents. Keep those questions coming in we love to hear from you!
What about magnetic vent covers or just closing the vents?
Magnetic vent covers are pieces of flexible material that sit on top of and cover the vent grille, effectively blocking off the flow of air. Most vent grilles also have a small knob which controls louvers, to allow you to alter the direction the air blows or to close the louvers completely to prevent air flow. We recommend only using magnetic vent covers or closing the louvers in special circumstances and for as short a time as possible. For example, if you have one room of your house you never use in the winter, then you can close the vents in that room to avoid heating it, and to force the heat into the other areas of the house. But you must make sure that the door to the room you are closing off stays closed and that the return air grille is not located in or near that room. A better solution would be to create a separate zone for that room.
When should air deflectors be used?
Air defectors are typically clear plastic attachments to the vent or register grille that direct the flow of air in one direction. This is sometimes a good idea when the vent falls in an awkward place in the room in relation to drapes or furniture. It is far better to use a deflector than to use a vent cover or close the vent entirely. Always deflect the air into the room (towards the room occupants) and not towards an exterior wall or window. Remember that the deflector will also need periodic cleaning.
Are vent filters a good idea?
These are similar to air filters, and are typically made of a mesh material that allows air to pass but traps larger particles. HEPA vent filters may be helpful to people who are particularly sensitive to pollen, mold, pet dander, and other allergens. Some filters are impregnated with charcoal to help take odors out of the air. Other than some particular circumstances, vent filters are not generally recommended. They impede the flow of air and make your system work harder than it needs to. If your objective is to keep the air clean of particulate matter such as pollens and dust, it is much more effective to put a good quality air filter on the return air grille than to insert filters into each individual register. Keep in mind also, that filters only work when the HVAC blower is running (air is actively blowing). The rest of the time, pollen, mold spores, and other allergens are all around, coming through doors and windows, and riding along on our clothes and furniture. For people who are ultra-sensitive, an air purifier might be a better solution than vent filters.
Check out a previous post we wrote on register fans: Are Register & Duct Fans a Solution for Uneven Heating & Cooling?.
Tell us about any gadgets you've come across, and what you like or dislike about them. As always, we welcome your comments and feedback.