Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Block Cold Air Returns
Your HVAC system’s air distribution network consists of two distinct sides: supply and return. Both sides must be fully functional for reliable HVAC performance, which makes it critical to keep your cold air returns unobstructed so air can flow unrestricted through the system.
The Role of Cold Air Returns
Air isn’t pumped out of your return registers, so you might wonder how they work. The function of the return side is fairly simple: cold, stale air is drawn into the ductwork through the return registers, it’s pulled through the air filter, then it’s delivered to the HVAC equipment where it’s reconditioned.
Why Having Unobstructed Cold Air Registers Matters
If your HVAC system is new, your home may have several return registers. If your system is older, you probably have supply vents in every room but just one return register per floor. In this case, a single obstructed return grille can severely restrict airflow through the HVAC system and lead to serious issues like:
- System pressure imbalances that draw in pollutants and allergens from unconditioned areas.
- A decline in system efficiency and an increase in energy use/operating costs
- Added strain on costly system components that can cause breakdowns or premature failures.
- Less conditioned air output, which creates temperature and humidity control problems and a decline in your comfort level.
Tips to Maintain Adequate Airflow Through the HVAC System
You can help ensure that there’s always sufficient airflow through your HVAC system by keeping your cold air return registers unobstructed by household items like long drapes, area rugs, furniture and children’s toys. You can also:
- Vacuum or dust your supply and return registers frequently to keep them free of debris.
- Check the system’s air filter monthly and replace when there’s any visible dirt accumulation.
- Don’t shut the doors to infrequently-used rooms and keep all your supply registers open.