Why Does my HVAC Need a Return Air Vent?

Two large male hands holding air vent on gray painted wall

Do you own, or have you ever been in, an older home? Did the upstairs seem hotter or colder than the downstairs? Some residents complain that they have to keep their downstairs significantly colder than they would like in the summer just so the upstairs can feel comfortable. Likewise, their downstairs rooms feel like an oven so that the upstairs doesn’t feel like an ice box. What’s going on here exactly? Let’s unpack why your HVAC needs a return air vent.

What is a return air vent?
First things first, let’s look at the purpose of the vents in your home. One acts as a supply line, providing cooled air from your condenser coils to your rooms. The condenser, however, needs a way to get the warm air out of your living spaces so that it can do its job.
That’s where a return air vent comes into play. It moves warm or hot air from your rooms to the HVAC system. Without return air vents, there is physically no way to circulate the air throughout your home.

Do I need them in every room?
When central air conditioning systems were first rolling out, it was a common practice to put them in larger spaces such as living rooms and upstairs hallways. However, as system efficiencies have improved, so have installation processes.

That’s why it’s recommended today to have a return vent in each room of your home. This negates the need for a larger, more inconvenient central vent on each floor and allows for easier installations. For example, sometimes if you have two cooling events in your room you can convert one of them to a return air vent instead.
What about bedrooms? This recommendation to install a return air vent in each room extends to your bedrooms. Because we spend upwards of one-third of our lives in these areas, you want them to be as cool and comfortable as possible. A return air vent in your bedrooms will help keep them at the perfect sleeping temperature during a hot Utah night.

Can older homes have a return installed retroactively?
Many older homes were built before the advent of central air conditioning. Because of this, they were built with heating-only in mind. As modern air conditioning evolved, it requires creative retrofitting at times to update older homes with return air vents.

But, because it’s a challenge doesn’t mean it’s something to skip. The benefits more than outweigh the cost, and yes, virtually any homeowner can add return vents to their HVAC setup.

Can I put anything on top of my return air vent?
Because your return air vent sends air from your rooms to your HVAC system, you should never put anything on top of it. Otherwise, you risk damaging your blower motor and other components within your heating and cooling system.

Does your HVAC need a return air vent? We can help! In order to maximize your HVAC’s efficiency, you need a return air vent in as many locations as possible. Without one, your system will work overtime forcing heat and air along a one-way tunnel. Without a return air vent, your heating and cooling costs will be significantly higher than they could be otherwise.

If your home is lacking with its return air vent situations, let us know. Request a free quote for services or contact us HERE to set up your appointment. We’ll look over your information and follow up within a few business days.

Scroll to Top
Need Plumbing? Click Here!