The Ultimate Home Comfort Checklist – properly programming your thermostats. This week, we’re taking another, deeper, dive into healthy airflow and proper home air circulation – but this time was going over return air, how it’s different from supply air, and how both of these vents need to be properly cleaned for effective heating and cooling of your home.

Let’s start with an overview of the entire airflow process as it relates to your HVAC unit.

The Airflow Process

The circulation of heated and cooled air is a process – think of it as a constant loop. Your system needs the air in your home, or return air, to internally heat and cool and then eventually push that air (now your supply air) back out into your home.

Your supply air, once pushed into your home, is combined with the inside air again, and is soon sucked right back up into your return vents – and the cycle continues.

Supply Vent vs. Return Vent

Your supply vents push air out once it’s been heated or cooled. Your return vents obtain this air to begin with. Both of these vents look exactly the same, but their functions are completely opposite of one another – one is pulling air in, while the other is pushing it out.

Vent Maintenance

When you neglect your vents, supply or return, and don’t give them a proper cleaning [link to: resources/duct-cleaning] every once in a while, they start gathering dust and debris. Even if only one of your return vents is heavy with dust, the entire airflow process is still thrown into disarray – a break in that circulation loop affects the direction and circulation speed of the air.

But, here’s the good news: Keeping your vents (both supply and return) clean and unclogged is one of the simplest tasks involved in DIY HVAC maintenance. All you need is:

A screwdriver – to remove the vent covers
A broom – to remove excess dust in your high-reaching vents
A vacuum cleaner – use the slanted part to get deep inside the crevices of your lower vents
Soap and water – to clean your vent covers
Make sure your system is powered OFF before you do anything – tinkering with your system while the airflow process is in progress makes cleaning much more of a challenge. Plus, you don’t want all that lingering dust blown directly into your face.

Vent Clearance

All your air vents need at least six inches of clearance from all furniture, drapes or other household items to ensure proper system breathing. When there is anything obstructing the intake (return vents) or output (supply vents) of air, it hinders the entire circulation process, essentially costing you more energy for less air.

Well, there you have it – another simple way to secure low energy costs and maintain home comfort. If you have any additional questions on cleanings your air vents, or would like some professional assistance, our
Comfort Consultants are always standing by to assist you with any home comfort needs.

In other news: we’re almost completely through the
The Ultimate Home Comfort Checklist – only two more items to go. Don’t miss our post next week on saving energy with your ceiling fans, (that’s right, your ceiling fans) and bring yourself one step closer to ultimate home comfort!

Ready to see the final 2 items right now?
Click here to download your very own copy of The Home Comfort Checklist, and see how simple it is to cut utility costs while maintaining ultimate comfort in your home.

Meet the Author
Randy Kelley
Randy Kelley


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