Kid-Proofing Your HVAC Floor Vents

7 November 2014
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles

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If you have kids in the house, you know that they love to tear things apart and find new, fun places to hide toys. In many homes, the HVAC floor vent covers are not actually attached to the floor. If your child hasn't yet discovered, this, rest assured he soon will. To keep your kids from removing the vent covers and placing toys and other small objects down the air vents, here are some tips for kid-proofing your HVAC floor registers.

Insert a Breathable Barrier

Even if you secure your vent covers so that your kids can't lift them, they can still place small objects through the slats in the vent cover. To prevent these items from escaping into HVAC oblivion, you'll need to install some kind of barrier that will catch small objects while still allowing airflow through the vent. Here are some suggestions:

  • Secure a dryer sheet or some cheese cloth to the inside of the vent a couple of inches below the cover (you want to make sure you still have room to open and close the vent). You can use double-stick tape, strong magnets, or even glue. Keep in mind that you'll need to remove the fabric each time you have your vents cleaned and then replace it.
  • Use window screen material to make a "hammock" underneath the vent to catch small items. The screen material should be u-shaped so that the vent can still open and close with ease. You can attach the screen to the underside of the vent using any of the same methods as the dryer sheet. This is a great option because the screen won't need to be removed separately when you have your vents cleaned.
  • If your vents don't open and close and you have carpet, you can attach the screen material directly to the floor using a staple gun. Pull back the edges of the carpet just a bit and secure the screen with a few staples. Then secure your vent cover over the top of the screen.

Secure Your Vent Cover to the Floor

Once you have successfully blocked off the vent with a breathable barrier, you still need to secure your vent cover so your child can't pull it out. If your vent cover fits very tightly into the floor, you can probably skip this step. If it is loose and easy to lift, it's best to secure it. Here's how:

  • If your vent cover fits loosely and does not have holes for screws, you have two options: purchase new vent covers with holes and screws, or drill holes in your existing vent cover. 
  • If you choose to purchase new vent covers, take your old cover with you to make sure you get the right size. Mark the holes in the vent cover with a pencil and drill a hole at each mark. Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than your screws. Then screw the vent cover in place.
  • If you have carpet, you can still screw the cover in place--you'll just have to drill through the carpet and pad first. This may require a slightly longer screw.
  • If you choose to use your same vent covers, make sure there is enough of a lip that your screws will go into the floor. Mark where you would like your screws to go--one on each side of the vent cover should suffice. Drill holes in the vent cover using the appropriate drill bit (many vent covers are metal, so be sure you use a bit designed for metal if this is the case). Then complete the steps above to secure the vent to the floor.

If you're tired of fishing various items out of your HVAC vents (or want to prevent it in the first place), take the time to block off your vents and secure the covers. While this will take a few hours of your day (and possibly some money for supplies), it will save you a lot of headache in the future as you raise your children. For more tips or suggestions, you can also contact a local HVAC company.