Cold Air Return

Can I Put My Christmas Tree in Front of the Cold Air Return?

Can You Cover a Return Vent in your Home?

MISHAWAKA/FORT WAYNE/PLYMOUTH IN; ST. JOSEPH/NILES, MI — During the holidays, many homeowners put up temporary decorations, such as a Christmas tree, wall hanging or wreath.

Similarly, homeowners may move large furniture to make room for the tree, blocking a vent.

While most of us want to decorate for the season, here’s why families should avoid blocking registers and cold air returns, even for a short while:

“Cutting your home’s air flow is like trying to run a marathon while breathing through a straw,” said Home Comfort Experts Operations Manager James Olesen.

What’s more, limiting air intake to your furnace this winter means it has to work harder, shortening system lifespan.

“Air flow problems are a direct cause of 40 percent of all catastrophic HVAC failures,” he said.

When a new system is properly installed, expert HVAC technicians do an analysis of the home’s air flow, family needs, insulation, windows and more. CFM, or cubic feet per minute, is how much air a furnace and duct work can heat and move every 60 seconds.

“It’s very specific,” Olesen said. “The size of ductwork, furnace capacity, number of return air vents — all of this goes into the calculation.”

What Is An Air Return Vent?

      An air return vent is part of the HVAC system. Return vents are usually larger than heat registers and you will not feel air being blown out of these vents, as they are used to force out the cool air in the room to be reheated by the furnace.

How Do You Keep Your Air Vents Working Properly?

      The first thing to do is to make sure they are not blocked. Once you know they are free to work efficiently, you should remove the cover and clean the grille to make sure there is no dust blocking the air flow. Air return vents attract a lot of dust and cleaning them regularly will ensure they continue to work efficiently.

Making sure your air return vents are free from obstructions will make a huge difference in the overall performance of your HVAC system.

What Happens When A Return Vent Is Blocked?

      Blocking an air return vent restricts air flow in your home and causes your system to work harder, as there is less air flow to move the air back to the furnace. This continued strain on the HVAC system can lead to a decrease in performance and more HVAC repairs down the road.

If you have any questions about how air flow works in an HVAC system or how to know if your furnace is properly sized for your home, please contact us at