Vent Covers 101

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The lowly vent cover: it is an innocuous thing, sitting there, an ugly grate of metal in your ceiling, floor or wall. They may seem like a trivial aesthetic concern to the untrained eye. Vent covers, however, are an essential component in your ventilation system, and your choice of vent covers, and how you use them, can prove to be the major difference in how comfortable your home is and how much you spend each much on your heating and cooling bill.

The function of a vent cover is to redirect the air flow from the ventilation system to where it is needed most. Thus, rooms that don’t see much traffic should have the vent covers closed while rooms that really need heating or cooling should have the vents left open. This simple change in behavior can have a big impact on your comfort levels and can reduce your monthly expenses.

Even more than your ventilation habits, your choice of vent covers can have an effect on your experience. There are three primary types of vent covers that people commonly use today, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Basic Vent Covers – These are the style of vent cover you see in most new apartments, town homes and office buildings: simple metal grates that sit overtop of vents designed to redirect air away from the vent and around the room. Usually painted to match the floor or walls from which they extrude, many still consider them something of an eye sore.

Basic vent covers, while generally inexpensive, do not maintain a very tight seal, so air often escapes in places it is not necessarily needed, reducing the air pressure and temperature modification power of the air where it is needed. The poor seal also means they are usually only placed on either the floor or the ceiling, not both, meaning that they will be inherently less effective at cooling in the summer (when on the floor, as cold air sinks) or heating in the winter (when on the ceiling, hot air rises.)

Magnetic Vent Covers – These vent covers have the advantage of being airtight, and fairly modular. Usually fitted over basic vent covers, magnetic vent covers pick up the slack that basic covers leave. If you find that your San Jose HVAC system is being overtaxed, the addition of magnetic vent covers can help solve the problem.

These vent covers work exactly as their name implies: they are simple covers that magnetically seal over top of another vent cover. Small homes can easily be fitted with these little marvels for under $50, while even very large homes can be fitted for around $100. The savings you can reap from installing magnetic vent covers means they will pay for themselves in only a few months. Magnetic vent covers can also be painted to match the local décor. Just make sure your original vent covers are magnetic before you head to the hardware store.

Decorative Vent Covers – So you have covered up the vents you don’t want to use with magnetic vent covers, but you are still stuck with those ugly grates in the rooms you do want ventilation in. No longer do you have to suffer the likes of those thanks to decorative grate covers. There is a huge variety of decorative grate covers to suit any taste at any big box hardware store and are available in a number of decorative metals and grille patterns. Some places even offer custom grate cover design. Decorative grate covers are very simple to install and are not always necessarily prohibitively expensive. If you want to really make an impression with a room, decorative grate covers are nice touch.