What Is the Purpose of My AC Return Air Vent?

What Is the Purpose of My AC Return Air Vent?

A properly functioning HVAC system is essential to a comfortable home. While many people know how to operate their AC system, very few people know how it actually works. Your AC’s return air vent is a critical component of an HVAC system and serves several purposes. Not only do return air vents maintain your home’s air pressure and filter out debris, they can also serve to save you on energy costs and expenses, which is important here in hot and humid Gainesville, Fla.

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What is a Return Air Vent?

An air conditioner works by absorbing the warm air and moisture from your home. Once the dampness is separated from the air, your AC unit cools the warm air, and sends it back into your home through the return air vents.

Despite their name, it’s also through these outlets that the air conditioner takes in air. So, in a nutshell, it recycles air from each room in your home. Warm air travels through a specific set of ducts (called a supply duct), and once cooled down, it travels back to the vents through another set of ducts (called a return duct).

3 Ways AC Return Air Vents Benefit Your Home

1. Maintaining Air Pressure

An HVAC system is basically a recirculating pump that works by heating or cooling air and then pumping it into a home. As conditioned air is pushed in, the air already in the home needs a place to escape. Return air vents serve this purpose by helping to pull in the air and putting it back into the system. This is what maintains proper air pressure in a home.

2. Maintain Air Quality Filtering Out Debris

Have you noticed dust motes circling in beams of light that filter through the windows? Homes are prone to collecting dust particles and other allergens (such as pollen and pet dander). When your air conditioner absorbs air, provided that you have a clean air filter, it’ll also trap excess debris to keep your household’s air quality in optimal condition.

3. Saves on Energy Bill

This will only be the case if your ducts are installed properly and don’t have any leaks. This is why you should only trust installation with HVAC professionals and conduct a home energy audit periodically.

Importance of Proper AC Return Vents

AC Return Air Vent Purpose
When air return vents are not working properly, the entire HVAC system suffers. Blocked vents can hinder airflow and cause the system to run inefficiently. Also, improperly placed vents can affect how a building maintains its temperature.

In the infographic to the right, you can see that leaks in return vents are a common duct problem. Not only will this issue make your home less comfortable, but you will likely notice an increase in your monthly energy bill costs.

Can I Block or Cover the Return Air Vent if it Makes a Room Too Cold?

Ok. So now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s discuss a common question regarding vents: Should you ever close or block these vents?

Whether you’re trying to cool the rest of the home faster by blocking vents in unoccupied rooms, or shutting them simply because you feel like the room is too cold, remember the lesson in pressure stated above. When you close a system’s vents, you’re changing the air pressure. Your AC doesn’t have a sensor that tells it the vents are closed. Therefore, it’ll keep sending the same amount of air that way.

The additional force inside your ducts will likely cause them to spring leaks; which, in turn, will increase your energy costs and decrease energy efficiency. In addition, it’ll shorten the lifespan of your AC system. No matter how you look at it, it’s a lose-lose situation.

Blocking Air Return Vents With Furniture

You should also keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to close the vents to block the airflow. Placing furniture in front of vents is also an invitation for trouble: Wood furniture will eventually become damaged and upholstered items will foster the growth of mold and mildew, especially in humid environments, such as Florida. DO NOT DO THIS!

Contact A+ Air Conditioning for AC Repair Service in Gainesville

If you have abnormally high heating and cooling costs, or your system does not maintain the desired temperature in your home, you may have a problem with your return air vents.

Contact A+ Air Conditioning and Refrigeration today to see how we can ensure your vents are working properly and your HVAC system is operating at its optimal performance. We service throughout North Central Florida, including Ocala, Alachua, Bronson, Chiefland, Palatka, Cedar Key, Trenton, Starke, High Springs, Waldo and more, and are available for all of your HVAC needs.

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