How to Cut Heating Vents Into the Floor & Ceiling


Cutting vents in the floor and ceiling requires some measuring, climbing in the attic space and crawling under the house. When done properly vents are functional and blend into the room décor as if they were placed during the initial construction of the home. Placement of the vents will be determined differently for each room depending on traffic flow and desired heating effects of the room.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • 16 penny nails
  • Vent
  • Pencil
  • Keyhole saw
  • Wood saw
  • Determine the approximate location of the vent by looking at the layout of the room. Do not place floor vents in traffic areas where they could be walked on frequently. Do not place ceiling vents where they are inaccessible from the attic. Consider the flow of warm air after the installation. Do not place vents where the airflow will be undesirable for people sitting or standing in the room.

  • Measure inside the room the distance from the outside wall of the house and from a nearby perpendicular wall to the approximate location of the vent.

  • Crawl into the attic or under the house. Find the same two walls and make the same measurements. The vent will need to be placed between the ceiling joist in the attic and the floor joist in the floor. Do not place a vent where the HVAC system, electrical wires or plumbing pipes will be in the way of installation.

  • Use the hammer to drive a single nail through the ceiling or floor where you want the vent to be placed. Go back into the room and find the nail that you just placed. If it is in the right location, you can be more precise about the hole to cut out.

  • Measure the vent to determine the correct size hole to cut. A typical vent is 4 inches wide by 10 inches long. Mark the opening for the vent, making sure it is parallel with any nearby walls and away from any joist locations. If desired, double-check your placement by hammering in more nails to locate the four corners of the vent location.

  • Use the keyhole saw to cut the opening in the drywall for the ceiling vent. Use a wood saw to cut a hole in the floor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remove insulation from the attic area around the vent location before cutting the hole in the ceiling.
  • Watch out for snakes, insects and rodents under the house and in the attic.
  • Always take safety precautions and wear proper safety equipment while operating machinery or using hand tools.

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  • Ed English; Author
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