Sunday, June 1, 2014

June's FAQ - Air Vent Lingo

Register, Diffuser, Vent, Return Air Grille, Supply...

What Does It All Mean?

Shopping for air vents for your home can be like entering an unknown world and trying to learn a new language. There are so many terms to learn and things to know. This post was created to help you weave your way through the world of air vents.

Supply VS Return

A supply is the vent that pushes air out into your home from your HVAC system. These usually have dampers on them to control air flow, but not always.

A return is an air vent that pulls the air out of your room and sends it back to your HVAC system to be heated or cooled. Return air vents also helps circulate air in your home to prevent moisture build up, pressure changes, and more. Return air vents do not have dampers because you wouldn’t want to close them. These types of vents are also called return air grilles.

What Is A Damper?

A damper is a device that opens and closes a register or diffuser to control the air flow. There are two basic kinds that we deal with most often: a plate damper and a multi-shutter damper. Sometimes you don't necessarily need a damper on a supply if you don't need or want to control the air flow. In this case you can order a return air vent to cover the hole.

Register Or Diffuser?

The word register and diffuser are often used interchangeably for a vent that pushes air out into a room and has a damper. For the technical person, there is a slight difference in that a register pushes the air out into the room in a non-spreading pattern, and diffuser push air out in a spreading pattern.

What Type Of Register Do You Need?

Floor Air Vent

You can find floor registers and returns all throughout some homes. These air vents generally do not have screw holes and usually will just drop into a hole in your floor for easy installation.

Ceiling And Wall Air Vent

Sometimes homes will not have any floor vents, and the HVAC system will solely rely on ceiling or wall air vents. These usually do have screw holes to attach to the ceiling or wall. Also return vents generally do not have anything that sticks into the hole, they will have flat backing. This can vary depending on manufacturer. The ceiling and wall registers will usually have a damper. Plate dampers are not for use on ceiling registers.

Baseboard Air Vent

Then there are baseboard air vents which sit on the floor against the wall. There are 2 main types: triangular and rectangular. Both of these styles come in a register or return air grille form. A baseboard air vent can be in several spots where the floor meets the wall. The first two options will need a triangular baseboard vent, the last option can use a rectangular baseboard air vent.

Rectangular air vents have a larger turnback than wall vents. They stick out from the wall about 3/4” - 1” depending on manufacturer.

Triangular baseboard vents have a wider base than the top portion. These triangular baseboard vents are used for when holes are in the floor but butted up against the wall, or for holes that are both on the wall and floor.

Still confused? Call us for live help. Monday through Friday from 8am - 5pm CST, we're here to help you. You can also fill out our contact us form for help.

Also, stay tuned for next month's post about measuring your vents correctly!

To see these options and more, take a look at

What confused you most when trying to buy air vents for your business or home?

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