Heating vents and registers, whether on the floor or in the wall, inevitably gather dust. This is especially true when they’re not in use during the summer. Cleaning out the heating vents before you turn on your heat in fall can keep that dust from recirculating. Vents in high-traffic areas may need cleaning more often, though. After turning off the circuit breaker to your furnace, you can safely clean any heating vent in your home.
Things You'll Need
- Rags or sponges
- Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment
- Liquid soap
- Old toothbrush
Unscrew the screws on the sides of the register (vent cover). Put them in a safe place. Lift out the register and place it on a piece of newspaper or plastic to catch grime and dust. Examine the heat duct opening and remove any large debris such as bits of carpet that may have fallen in. Brush away larger cobwebs and clumps of dust with a dry rag.
Vacuum out the inside of the vent using your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment. If your vacuum has a brush or crevice attachment, use this on the vent’s corners and edges. Otherwise, go over those areas several times with the hose attachment. Vacuum only visible areas to avoid damaging wiring that may lie deeper down in the heating duct.
Mix three or four drops of liquid soap in a half gallon of water. Wet a rag or sponge in the water and wring it out until it’s slightly damp. Wipe down the inside of the vent. Again, clean only the areas you can see clearly. When the inside is clean, wipe down the floor or dust the wall where the rim of the vent touched.
Examine the grates of the register for broken or rusty parts. On registers that allow airflow adjustment, examine the adjustable fins (metal plates) too. Avoiding damaged areas, wipe down the grates, fins and rim of the register with a cloth dampened in soapy water. With an old toothbrush, scrub any crevices that remain grimy.
Reinsert the register into the vent opening. The base should sit down in the heating vent with the rim on the floor or wall. Replace and tighten all screws. Carefully run your hand along the register’s rim to ensure that it's set against the floor or wall and won’t catch on anyone’s clothing or shoes.
Tips & Warnings
- Don't scrub lacquered wood, brass or metal registers. Clean them with a cloth or sponge.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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