"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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Relocating cold air return grille
1- Remove lower grille.
2- If necessary, remove header so air can move unobstructed from.
3- Use grille as a template to mark new location near the ceiling. Cut new opening 1" in from marked lines.
4- Cut new opening.
5- Remove plaster or drywall to fill in old opening near the floor.
6- Tape and sand patch.
7- Install grille making sure that the louvered sections point up to the ceiling!!!


Cold Air Returns
It is a well known fact that large amounts of warm air are accumulating near the ceiling where it becomes useless in the heating season and creates cooling problems in the summer. We can eliminate most of these problems by sealing the lower air returns and installing new ones near the ceiling.
Heating season. Warm air trapped near the ceiling can be recycled by installing air returns near the ceiling. Recycled warm air will lower your energy costs.
Cooling season. Older multi-level homes with an add-on central air conditioning system often have problems cooling the upper floors without freezing the basement. Trapped warm air near the ceiling can go nowhere. High wall returns will remove this warm air and this will help to cool the house more evenly. Closing some of the registers on the lower levels will also force more cool air to the upper levels.
Installing high wall returns in older homes. Cold air returns in older floors are typically installed in hallway floors. New air returns can be installed directly above the existing air returns. The 'new' duct is formed by the existing walls and existing wall framing members. Make sure that air movement is not blocked by fire stops or headers. In the photo to the right: (1) Old location of the cold air return near the floor. (2) New location of return near the ceiling.

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