Sunday, May 18, 2014

How to Clean Your Return Air Vent

Spring cleaning?  Why yes, I believe I will!  And I have been for the past several weekends.  This is our freshly cleaned return air vent in the hall way.  It wasn't always this pretty!
Its a little bent up and mis-shapen (probably from cat crashes), but it looks way better than before I started!  One day I plan on changing it out for one like THIS.  We just have to find the cool hardware cloth first!

UPDATE: We found the hardware cloth! Look right here to see what we made.
Don't be scared, its just a really filthy dirty vent.  I'm a bit embarrassed to show these next few pictures, but I felt like I needed to share with you so you can go check your vent and make sure its a healthy vent too!
A short story.  We have three cats.  They run through our house like maniacs!  On occasion one of them misjudges and ends up running into things, like vents.  The other day I heard a loud boom and went to investigate and this is what I found. Um, Eeeeeew! Gross!  One screw on the left just fell out of the drywall and was hanging there, the other one on the right, firmly holding on.  Oh screwdriver? Where are you?
This is what I found when I removed the vent! WOW! That is a lot of dirty dust bunnies!  Or should I say dirty dust kitties?
It was a good inch thick on the bottom.  Oh shop vac? Where are you?  This has got to go NOW!
I vacuumed all the "kitties" out of there and even found several pieces of dry wall.  Really?  Messy contractors!  LOL!
Next I broke out the Clorox wipes and cleaned the wall where the vent had been resting.  Don't mind all the scrapes and bumps, we will be painting in here soon I hope!
NOTE: DO NOT use Kaboom bathroom cleaner on your metal vent!  Not good as you can see!  I'm sure soap and warm water with a scrub brush would have done much better.
I headed to our paint shelves in the shop and oh look! A vent repair kit!  I primed the whole thing with white primer (a little extra on the area where I removed the paint while scrubbing) and then when that was dry I sprayed two thin coats of white gloss over the entire thing.  I even painted the screw heads too!
Aaaah!  So much better!  I told my honey that now that the vent is all beautiful and white, the wall and base board looks really awful and ugly!  He said, "It'll just have to wait until the kitchen is done first"!  You are so right honey!

UPDATE: We've just added our new DIY Decorative Return Air Vent Grille to this space.  Check it out here.

THIS JUST IN: Did you know you could use COUPONS on Amazon? Me either, but look right here for all your favorites and start saving, I am! :)

Click on links below for more of my cleaning tips:

Cleaning an HE Washer with Household Products

Remove Hard Water Buildup Naturally 

DIY Carpet Cleaning 

Cleaning Your Hairbrush the Easy Way 

Cleaning Your Oven

Cleaning Your Sink's Spray Nozzle

It doesn't have to be done all at once.  It is a slow process in the works! C-ya next time!

I'm Linking to:
These lovely and FUN parties!
Between Naps on the Porch
DIY Home Sweet Home

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  1. Thank you for linking up to the Super helpful post.

  2. I am so impressed with this. Yup, that was dusty but mine are probably worse. :) Best wishes, Linda at Crafts a la Mode

  3. Just wanted to let you know this is one of the featured posts this week on Friday frenzy. Love for you to join us again this week.

  4. this is one job that I forget to do! thanks for sharing

  5. My first refrigerator lasted 20 plus years...but they don't make them like that any more,������. Thank you so much for this knowledge, I will pass it on my dear!!! Peace and blessings to you & your family. Have to do the return vents as well!!!

    1. Hi Wanda! I'm certainly glad I could help! Have a lovely day! :)

  6. Luckily my home still has its original one inch deep return air grilles!
    I line them with an inexpensive thick reusable blue filter called Natural Aire.
    Then all you need to do is simply vacuum the filter to keep it clean.
    Bonus: the filter stops the dirt from entering your duct system!

    1. Sounds good, thanks so much for the tip! :)

    2. I keep two cut at all times so I have a clean one each month. Then just spray the other one clean with water hose, gets the smell out and everything. Lay a dryer sheet on them makes the house smell clean also.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this...even the icky parts! I never thought about cleaning these mostly because I have almost always lived in an apartment. I am soooo afraid to look in mine! I have been at my current apartment for just over 5 years and I know it has never been done. I'm scared to see what mine looks like!! Diving into this tomorrow!!

    1. Hi Deb! You're very welcome, so glad I could help! Yours may be bad this time, but now you know to keep an eye on it! Good luck!

  8. I don't understand what this thing in the wall is supposed to be. It is highly dangerous as it is surely not an A.C. return. Where is the vent. Maybe I don't understand. Were you just teaching how to paint the register? If you thought that was a return you were taken. Returns don't look like that. They have a large pipe or tubing leading out, not just empty wall. Help me understand.

    1. Hi there Unknown! I'm sorry that you don't understand. This IS just one of our return air vents in our home. This house was built in 1982 so maybe that's how they did it back then. I've not owned a brand new house so I'm not sure how they are done now. My family home that was built in the 40s was also like this.

      Why would you say its highly dangerous? There is nothing dangerous about it at all.

      I apologize that my post is disturbing to you and I hope you have a nice day. :)

  9. Lost my post so here I go again, if it posted and I'm not seeing it, then delete it. I don't understand why this air return did not have a filter in it. I have two returns and I buy the kind of filter at Walmart that looks like horse hair or something and you cut it to size. I keep 2 cut at all times so I have one clean to change each month. One big one is only about 6.00 and you just use the water hose on it to clean it. No frame needed or anything but it catches all the dirt, pet hair, etc. Would be much more healthier than letting that get in your duct system and come thru all your house when the AC/Heat kicks on. Why would it not have one of some kind in there?

    1. Hi Dianna! I'm not sure why, but our a/c man approved of it. He says they are there to relieve pressure of suction created by the system. These return vents do not have filters on them. The filter is in our huge unit up in the attic. It does not let the dust and pet hair get into the duct system at all. I know of the filters you are speaking about because we had them in our last house. I hated cleaning them! lol! :)


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