Why Are Vents On the Floor?


Ventilation plays an essential role in supplying fresh air to homes and expelling stale indoor air.

But why would your vents be on the floor? It’s because a heating and cooling system is more efficient when the vents are closer to the furnace. Floor ventilations are mostly in homes with furnaces located in the basement and are standard where the piping from the furnace travels through the basement or crawlspace.

However, different people have different reasons for installing their vents on the floor rather than the ceiling or the walls.


Floor vents Vs. Ceiling vents

The basic principle of air circulation is that hot air rises to the top as cold air sinks. Therefore, if you want to install air ventilation ducts to improve your indoor air quality, ceiling ducts are the best for you.

However, if you want an effective way to deliver heated air to your floor, floor ducts are your best choice. 


How do floor vents work?

Sometimes, you need to force air into or out of your home to maintain a conducive living environment. Using an air conditioner, you can either blow hot or cold air into a room. However, floor heating needs a little more than forced air due to its higher heat capabilities. That is why floor vents exist.

To heat floors, you blow hot air into a room through vents. Usually, the duct covering has a metal plate with holes to allow the air to flow through.

Since some floor vents double as air conditioning ducts, you can find them near windows. Here, the hot air expelled into the living space mixes with cold air from the window while the rest heats the floor. During the installation, the vents should not face the window, as they are some of the most notorious causes of heat loss. Instead, the vent opening should face away from the window.


Types of Floor Vents Covers

When choosing a floor vent cover for your home, the material you use is critical. Remember that there is almost a constant flow of hot air on that opening. So, you do not want to use untreated plastic or metal whose structural integrity crumbles under high temperatures.

Based on material, there are:

Metal floor vent covers – these are resistant to high temperatures, are durable, and suitable for high-humidity areas. You can choose from cast iron, brass, aluminum, and steel for your floor vents.

Baseboard floor vent covers – these covers usually work with baseboard diffusers mounted on walls for decorative purposes.

Hardwood vent covers – wood offers a unique and beautiful finish to your floor ventilation system. You can find different designs, including imperial and Edison, from hardwood materials like red and white oak or maple trees.

Plastic vent covers – you can also use hard-treated plastics like heavy-duty PVC for floor vent covers. Since they have high melting points and are strong, they can withstand the stresses due to heat and weight from above the floor.

Metallic or treated plastic and wood make for the best floor vent covers. The other most common types of floor vent covers include:


Basic covers

Homeowners who like their interior décor to remain unchanged yet comfortable go for basic floor vent registers.

These covers come in rectangular shapes, with equally spaced openings. Although they are pretty plain, these basic registers are long-lasting and come in various colors and designs.

The covers also fade nicely into a carpeted floor, making them an excellent option to finish your floor vents.


 Raised floor registers

The raised floor registers give off a heater vibe once installed. Wood is commonly used to make raised floor registers, which adds to their unusual yet attractive appearance.


 Decorative registers

If you are big on a unique finishing touch to your home, choosing a decorative floor vent register for your tiled or hardwood floor is a good choice.


Pros and Cons of floor ducts

There are a few concerns related to floor vents. For instance, they are hard to access since you install almost all of them in basement crawlspaces. Also, you need to arrange your home in a way that furniture does not block the airways.

Over time, dirt could accumulate on the vent registers, causing a blockage. Thus, you require frequent cleaning. As for the kids, there is always a risk of them stuffing debris on the ducts, which makes it hard to maintain.

However, in the face of these shortcomings, floor vents offer superior performance compared to attic vents when it comes to heat distribution. Compared to attic ventilation, floor vents deliver hear to the floor directly, which means the heat gets to its destination fast. 

Since the floor vents are more efficient in delivering heat, you can worry less about losing heat to the attic space in the winter.

Also, due to their high efficiency, floor vents allow you to save on energy bills since heat loss drops significantly.


Proper maintenance for floor vents

As time progresses, dirt, debris, grime, and dust collect in your vents. Often, the dirt clogs the ducts, resulting in poor indoor air quality and energy loss. Cleaning your floor vents is, therefore an important to maintain proper air circulation.

The steps below will help you take care of your floor vents in your home cleaning routine:

  • First, shut the ventilation system off to prevent debris and dust circulation in your home
  • Then, using a vacuum, remove any loose dirt on or in the floor vent
  • Unscrew the floor vent cover 
  • Vacuum the newly exposed dirt or wipe off any dirt with a damp rag
  • The next step is to clean the register. You can wash metallic covers in a dishwasher while you clean wooden and plastic covers by hand.

If you do not know how to install, remove or clean your floor vents, to ask for help from a professional is always the best answer.