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What are Air Vent Covers?

By Crystal K. Wilford
Updated May 17, 2024
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Air vent covers are metal or wooden grates that cover ventilation holes in ceilings, floors, and walls. Vent covers prevent air from being blocked as it is circulated through a building. Most vent covers help control how much air is released into a room and can direct the flow of air in a certain direction. Some types of vent covers are solid mats that cover the grates and prevent air from emerging through the vent.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are necessary to refresh the air inside rooms. This helps balance temperatures throughout the entire building, and maintains air quality in various rooms. Most buildings are constructed with ducts which run throughout the entire structure. Vents release airflow from the ducts and permit air to be moved from the rooms to improve circulation.

Air vent covers are available in a large variety of designs, sizes, and types. Usually, wooden grates provide a decorative choice to blend in with interior designs without cutting off the flow of air. Metal grates, on the other hand, carry their own design appeal, coming in a variety of thicknesses and materials, including steel, brass, copper, nickel, or others. Most often, metal covers can be manufactured with a shutter inside the vent. The vent can be closed or opened to help regulate the amount of hot or cold air released.

Most air vent covers help to spread hot or cool air as evenly as possible through a building. If a shutter is not included, a magnetic air vent cover can be used on metal grates. Magnetic air vent covers are mats that can cover most types of flat metal grates, whether located in the ceiling, walls, or floor. The magnet keeps the mat from slipping, resists the flow of air pushing against it, and maintains the flat surface of the air vent beneath without requiring additional attachments. The mats are thin and flexible, permitting them to be cut into various sizes and shapes.

Buildings with windows that cannot open for natural ventilation make use of ventilation ducts as the primary source of temperature control and air circulation. Air filters are sometimes integrated into HVAC systems to help remove particles of dust, trap moisture, or capture other pollutants from the air. Filters can also be placed between the vent and the air vent cover. They are easy to replace and clean, as are the air vent covers, which can be cleaned by a cloth.

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Discussion Comments
By drtroubles — On Oct 28, 2011

@Sara007 - There are air vent covers you can buy that are made for homes with pets and children in mind. They come in a variety of colors, but usually consist of closely slated grates made of wood or metal. The edges are smooth so you don't have to worry about anyone getting cut.

If you wanted, you can also buy more elaborate grates that have a filter in them that prevents things from falling down them. We have cool, art deco looking grates that have fairly large gaps in them, but the filter keeps things from falling down into the pipes.

By Sara007 — On Oct 28, 2011

We've just purchased a new house and are looking at buying some decorative heat vent covers as the ones that are installed currently are pretty boring. They are just simple grates and we would really prefer something that adds to the design of our rooms.

Does anyone know if there are certain home vent covers that should be avoided for safety reasons?

We have children and pets, and while we want something that looks stylish we also want to make sure that the vents are safe for everyone. I wouldn't want anyone getting cut on a vent or it leaving too big a gap for things to fall in.

By sneakers41 — On Oct 28, 2011

I live in a condo and I use decorative air vent covers because it really cuts down on the noise that come in from other apartments. I notice that when I don’t cover these vents, I really get to hear all kinds of conversations that I don’t care to hear when I am near the vent.

This was my main motivation for getting air vent covers because now I don’t have to worry about excess noise coming from other apartments.

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