What’s the Difference Between Supply and Return Vents?

You likely know that behind the walls of your home is a network of ducts. The ducts connect to each room in your home, providing a pathway where air can cycle back and forth from your cooling and heating system. Without the supply and return vents, your ductwork wouldn’t be able to perform its job. But, do you know the difference between them?

Supply Vents vs. Return Vents
Below will explain the difference between your supply and return vents.

Supply Vents
The supply vents connect to your supply ducts. These are responsible for blowing the air into your indoor rooms. They’re usually smaller than the return vents and often have slats or louvers behind the grill that allow you to direct the flow of air.

Your home’s supply vents are the covers for your walls’ openings where the air blows out. The air then flows from your cooling and heating system out of your supply vents from the ductwork.

Turn the fan of your system on and hold your hand or a piece of paper in front of the vent. If you can feel the air blowing out — it’s your supply vent.

Return Vents
Return vents connect to the return ducts. These are responsible for pulling the air out of your indoor rooms and delivering the air to your cooling and heating system. They’re usually larger than supply vents and don’t have louvers.

While return vents also cover your walls’ openings, they connect to the return ducts. You don’t feel any air blow out of them like you do with the supply vents.

Turn on the fan of your system on and hold that piece of paper or your hand over the vent. If you feel a suctioning effect or notice the paper being sucked towards the vent — it’s your return vent.

Your air-supply and return system needs to follow a couple principles to function properly:

You should have a supply register and return-air register in each room of your house. If you have a home that wasn’t designed like this, for optimal efficiency, you may want to have them installed. Return registers should be installed on your inside walls; supply registers under windows and on outer walls.

Make sure the supply and return registers aren’t installed too close to one another, since the air may not circulate properly since the return vent will draw the supply air quickly back into the ductwork.

Some individuals believe they should close the vents if a room is too cold. They also believe this will save energy. However, doing so can damage your vents. When you close off a vent, it increases ductwork pressure, resulting in improper air flow. This causes your system to operate harder and wastes energy. If you’re looking to save on energy, you may want to consider installing a whole house fan.

To ensure your vents are running appropriately, don’t place any objects or furniture in front of them. Keep the area clear to make airflow easier. You need supply and return vents installed in your home to keep your home feeling comfortable. To ensure the vents are installed properly, call an HVAC professional to come and do the job.

To effectively cool and ventilate your home, while simultaneously reducing your energy bill, especially in moderate climates, use a whole house fan.