The 411 on How to Quiet a Noisy Air Return in Your Bedroom

how to quiet a noisy air returnDo you have any friends that meditate? I know I sure do. They’re easy to spot, mostly because they seem to be so calm in most situations. That kind of peace and relaxation really does seem nice.

Recently, my aunt, an avid meditator, called me up to share a little problem she’d been having. Every day, during each of her 20-minute meditation sessions, she notices a drafty, windy noise in her room. When she described the sound to me, right away I knew what was up—she has a noisy air return vent. So, I stepped in to help her get the most out of her meditation practice once again. She may know quite a bit more than I do about how to find inner peace, but when it comes to vents, I’m the one with all the answers.

For those of you who are experiencing the same kind of noise in your bedroom as my aunt, I’m going to walk you through what an air return is, why it makes noise, and how to quiet a noisy air return in your bedroom. Whether your bedroom doubles as a meditation room or not, I’m sure that peace and quiet in the room where you catch your Z’s means a lot to you.

What Is an Air Return Vent and Why Is it Noisy?

When my aunt first called me about her noisy bedroom and I told her that her air return could be the culprit, she had no clue what I was talking about. I wasn’t surprised, really. I’ve found that a lot of people don’t know what an air return is. In fact, I recently wrote an Ask an Expert piece explaining what an air return vent is for a reader who wasn’t afraid to ask what so many people are probably wondering.

how to quiet a noisy air return vent in a bedroomPut simply, an air return is a vent in your home that sucks up air and returns it to your HVAC system or furnace to be heated or cooled. Of course, your home has more than one; most homes have at least one in each room. Air returns are incredibly important for regulating the temperature in your home, so it isn’t uncommon for a room to get super hot or super chilly if something is up with them.

When it comes to air returns making funky noises, though, there are usually a few common culprits:

  • Dirty air filters and/or air ducts: Typically, air returns are covered with vents or grills. Since the air return sucks air, they are prone to getting clogged, especially if your home is particularly dusty. When vents or ducts are clogged with dust and debris, the result is reduced airflow which can cause annoying noises.
  • Inefficient or poorly installed ductwork: I see this in a lot of homes. Poor duct installation jobs will often result in large return vents paired with small ducts. When this is the case, too much air is being forced into a confined space, which can cause whooshing or whistling sounds. Another sign of poor ductwork, and a culprit of noise coming from your air return vents, is unlined return ducts. Fiberglass duct liner absorbs noise like a charm, and I always make sure to install it—especially in return vents. I also see a lot of poorly placed air return vents. Believe it or not, where the vent is placed can really have an impact on how noisy it is.
  • Restrictive vents or grills: A vent that isn’t the right size or shape can make a ton of unwanted noise. Some vents aren’t made very well and have very narrow openings for air to enter or have vents that fall closed easily, which means that the HVAC system or furnace has to work super hard to get enough return air. Not only can this create an unpleasant, high-pitched sound, it also puts a lot of strain on your heating and cooling systems.

Tips for How to Quiet a Noisy Air Return in Your Bedroom

Now that you’re familiar with what an air return is and why it could be making noise, I’m going to tell you how to fix it so that you can get back to meditating, sleeping, or just enjoying your bedroom.

Here are three things I typically recommend you try, in this particular order:

  • #1 – Open all the vents: This should be the very first thing you do when you notice your air return vent is making noise. If the vent or grille is adjustable, switch it to the most open position available to maximize airflow. Be sure to check on it later to make sure it hasn’t closed up at all.
  • #2 – Clean your vents and ducts: If you’ve opened up your air return vents and there still isn’t a reduction in noise, try cleaning them. If you see dust or cobwebs, use a vacuum to suck the debris up. For a deeper clean, remove the grill, give it a wash, and vacuum out the opening of the duct. If you still experience noise once you open the vents and clean and reinstall the grill, there could be an obstruction or clog much deeper than you are able to reach on your own.
  • #3 – Call in a pro: If you’ve done the above recommendations without success, there is clearly a bigger issue that needs to be looked at by an experienced HVAC professional. While it may take you months to figure out what the problem is, a pro will solve the mystery in no time flat. After all, they have the expertise and the equipment necessary to diagnose and fix the problem easily and, in most cases, quickly. Not only will they be able to give your ducts a good clean if needed, they’ll be able to optimize your HVAC system to make sure the entire thing is running as efficiently, and as quietly, as possible.

I went over to my aunt’s to help her fix her noisy air return in her bedroom. It turned out that the cause of the sound was an ill-fitting vent that was restricting airflow. It was a quick and easy fix for me, but she was really grateful. To say thanks, she offered to give me a meditation lesson in her newly-quiet room. I had another client’s home to get to, so I took a rain check, but I’m really looking forward to learning from her. After all, I may know how to quiet a noisy air return, but I haven’t the faintest idea how to quiet my mind.

At Bell Brothers, our trained HVAC professionals would be delighted to help you make your home a quiet, peaceful, comfortable, and energy-efficient oasis. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.

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