For most homeowners, the vent system is a bit of a mystery. They exist, but they’re usually hidden away behind walls, ceilings and flooring upstairs. In the basement, where they’re more visible, they are just a network of wide metal tubes that run along the ceiling and take some finesse to cover up.
In this article, however, we’ll take a closer look at some of the different types of HVAC vents in your home to help you learn more about your HVAC system and how it works.
How HVAC systems work and the role of vents
Ducts and vents together act as the respiratory system of your home, inhaling the used air and exhaling the conditioned air.
The process begins with the heating or cooling system generating cool or hot air. This air needs to move around your living space and reach the different rooms. Ducts are like the circulatory system of your HVAC, distributing conditioned air from the air conditioner or furnace into every room.
However, for the air to enter and exit each room, we need vents – the gateways for airflow in your HVAC system. Each room in your home has at least two vents: supply vents blow conditioned air into the room, while return vents draw indoor air back into the HVAC for reconditioning (like your nose and mouth).
Hence, vents play a pivotal role in maintaining the correct air pressure balance, quality and temperature in your house.
Expert note: Often, many people mix up the terms ducts and vents or use them interchangeably when they actually perform distinct functions. While air ducts are responsible for the transportation of air, vents control its distribution.
4 Different vent types and purposes
Here are the types of vents you’ll find in a house:
- Supply Vents: As mentioned before, these are responsible for supplying conditioned air from your HVAC system throughout your home. These are usually installed near the ceiling or floor, depending on which system takes priority (heating or AC).
- Return Vents: Unlike supply vents, return vents do not blow air out; instead, they draw air from your home back in, returning to the HVAC system. This air will be cooled or heated by the system and then sent back into the home via the supply vents. These are typically larger in size.
- Exhaust Vents: These special types of vents are usually found in areas of your home where excess moisture and odors tend to build up, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. Exhaust vents help remove unwanted humidity and smells from these rooms by expelling the air directly outside through what is often called a “fan”.
- Balanced Ventilation System Vents: Balanced ventilation systems have both supply and exhaust vents to bring in fresh air and push out stale air, maintaining healthy indoor air quality.
These systems are typically not a part of a normal HVAC system and are designed to provide an equal amount of incoming and outgoing airflow, helping to maintain a balanced indoor pressure.
Understanding the different types of vents and their roles in your HVAC system helps ensure your system is working efficiently, providing a comfortable, healthy indoor environment in your home.
Importance of the correct vent sizing and placement
It may seem trivial, but getting your vents properly sized is also important to making sure your HVAC system functions efficiently.
Improperly sized vents can lead to inadequate airflow, causing your HVAC system to overwork itself, which can result in higher energy costs and an uncomfortable indoor climate. Similarly, incorrect vent placement can also affect temperature distribution, leading to hot or cold spots in your home and affecting your overall comfort.
If you’re building a new house or renovating your existing one, hire a professional HVAC technician to install your vents for you.
Experts have the right installation tools and materials needed to ensure everything is installed correctly, reducing the risk of leaks and other problems. A pro can also give you expert tips on how to care for your system well.
Signs to call in a professional
Here are some signs there might be an issue with your vents:
- Uneven temperatures: If you notice inconsistent temperatures throughout your home, it could be due to an airflow issue with your vents.
- Higher energy bills: Seeing a jump in your energy bills, but you haven’t changed your habits? Your HVAC system is likely working harder than it should be.
- Visible dust: If you see dust collected on your vent covers, it could be because you haven’t cleaned the grille recently or a sign of excess dust within the system.
- Bad odors: If you notice a moldy or burning smell whenever your HVAC system is running, it could be due to a problem within your ducts and vents.
- Increased allergies or respiratory issues: Regular coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing could suggest poor indoor air quality, potentially due to dirty vents or insufficient ventilation.
- Noisy operation: If you hear unusual noises like hissing or whistling from your vents, it could signify a leak or blockage.
- Visible mold: If you see mold on or around your vents, this is a serious issue requiring immediate attention.
If you notice any of these signs, call us, and one of our experts will take a look at your system.
How to keep your vents clean (and why you should!)
Proper vent maintenance isn’t just about improving your HVAC system’s efficiency; it’s also crucial for your health. Dust, pollen and mold can build up overtime, and if these particles get circulated throughout your home, they can exacerbate existing respiratory issues or develop new ones.
Clogged vents can also compromise your system’s efficiency, leading to higher bills and system damage. Here’s how to clean your vents:
- Shut off your HVAC system.
- Unscrew and remove vent covers.
- Vacuum the ducts or have a professional do so.
- Use a brush to scrub stubborn dirt or buildup.
- Clean the grills with a damp cloth.
- Reinstall the covers and power up your system!
- Make sure your vents aren’t blocked by furniture, as this can hinder their effectiveness.
If you’re not fully comfortable doing this, we understand. Give us a call, and we’ll get your system done in no time.
Breathe better, live better. Call Anderson Air for your needs.
HVAC vents help ensure proper airflow, regulate indoor temperatures and boost air quality. Ignoring your vents can lead to several problems, including compromised efficiency, higher monthly bills and poor indoor air quality.
Anderson Air has proudly provided HVAC and air care services to residential and commercial customers in Arkansas for over 50 years. With the help of our experts, you can be confident your system is working at its best. Contact us today!