Supply & Return Vents: What’s the Difference & What Exactly Do They Do?

You probably know that your home has a network of ducts hidden behind its walls, but what exactly do they do? These ducts are connected to every room in your home, providing a pathway for air to cycle to and from your heating and cooling system. The job that your ductwork performs would not be possible without the supply and return vents located throughout your home.

Man checking air quality through vent.

What’s the difference between supply and return vents?

It’s tempting to think that your furnace and air conditioner simply blow conditioned air to the rooms in your home. But that’s only half of the story; they’re also sucking air out of them.

The supply vents in your home blow conditioned air out into your rooms. This air travels from your heating and cooling system, through your ductwork and out of the supply vents. You can easily spot your supply vents because they are the only ones you can feel conditioned air coming from!

The return vents in your home suck the air from your rooms into your return ducts and back to your heating and cooling system. Your return vents are typically larger than supply vents, and you will not feel air being blown out of them.

How does ductwork design fit in with supply and return vents?

Your heating and cooling system is supposed to maintain a relatively balanced environment inside of your ducts. This means the amount of air that your ducts blow out is equal to the amount of air that’s being sucked back into them.

One of the biggest ductwork design problems that homes have is an inadequate amount of supply or return vents. In either case, the pressure inside of your ducts will be thrown off balance, causing your home to be less comfortable. That’s one reason why it’s so important to work with a qualified contractor who will take precise measurements of your home’s airflow needs before the installing your heating and cooling system.

How can you maximize the performance of your supply and return vents?

Even if you have the right amount of supply and return vents in your home, there are a few things you can do to ensure that they do their job properly. First, make sure that you don’t have any furniture or other objects blocking your supply and return vents. By keeping your vents clear, you will optimize airflow and maximize your home comfort.

Also avoid closing the supply vents in any of your rooms, even if you don’t use certain rooms very often. Closing off a vent will increase the pressure inside of your ductwork and lead to the same problems that poor duct design can cause. A better solution for saving energy in rooms that you don’t use very often is to section those rooms off into separate zones using a zoning system.

If you have any questions about your home’s supply and return vents, or if you’d like a heating and cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Hyde’s, your Coachella Valley air conditioning company, at (760) 360-2202!