How to Maintain Your Return Air Vent

air vent
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-500
What You'll Need
Duct tape

A return air vent is often used as part of a central heating system, and is necessary in order to prevent pressure from building up inside the home. The return air vent allows cold air being forced out of the room to escape without becoming over-pressurized. The cool air which is inside the return vent is then forced into the furnace, heated, and then repeats the cycle. Maintaining the return air vent is vital to keeping your central heating system functioning completely, and will not take you very long to perform, if you follow a few simple rules that can help you get the job done quickly and simply.

Step 1 - Remove the Vent Cover

Before you unscrew it completely, take a duster and wipe the cover free of dirt and debris which has built up. You should scrub any staining or marks from the cover. While you are dusting, check the drills and covers for any signs of damage or burning. Unscrew the cover using your screwdriver, and then place both the air vent cover and the screws in a safe place, as you will need to reinstall them at the end of the session. Check the edges of the inside vent for signs of decay or corrosion, and then proceed to the maintenance of your vent.

Step 2 - Vacuum Inside


Start up your vacuum, and place the nozzle inside the air vent. You may need to have some assistance lifting the vacuum enough to get the hose extension, but it is vital the duct be cleaned regularly in order to keep it in good condition. Vacuum the sides, and get as much dirt as you can off of the vent. Reach inside with your duster, and wipe down the front of the vent and the duct. Be careful not to touch the sides, as they can carry an electric or heat charge which will hurt your skin.

Step 3 - Check for Damage

You should also check the inside of your vent for damage to the grill, and the duct seams. Take care not to damage the duct during inspection, but don't overlook signs of mold, corrosion or actual damage to the seams. Any of these signs can indicate the heating system is not working correctly, and you will need to do more work to correct that.

Step 4 - Maintain the Grill

Once you have finished with your maintenance of the return air vent, replace the grill cover. You may take the opportunity, while you are so close to the grill, to replace or repaint the cover, as this can become unattractive with time. When the grill has been adjusted to your satisfaction, screw it back into position using your screwdriver, and empty your vacuum into the bin.