Many heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are made up of duct work that runs between the furnace and the individual rooms of a house. Heat registers are grates that cover the hole in the wall or floor where the duct enters the room. Louvres, or dampers, are often attached to the back of a heat register. These adjustable slats can open or close the register grill in order to customize the air flow. Heat registers can be both a functional and decorative part of any room, and come in many different materials including brass, cast iron, and wood.
A forced air heating and air conditioning system utilizes the furnace to send heated or cooled air through the ducts and into the home. A fan pushes the air into duct work that runs through the walls and under the floors and ceilings, carrying it throughout the house. Heat registers at the end of the ducts serve a dual purpose: to cover and protect the duct from dropped items, and to adjust the airflow with the louvres or dampers. Heat registers are known by several names including air vents, vent covers, and air registers.
Heat registers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and types. Duct work can enter a room on the floor, the wall, or in the baseboards. These different entry points naturally require different types of vents. Air registers on the wall are commonly screwed or nailed into place, and those on the floor simply utilize gravity to keep them over the vent. Wall and floor vents tend to be flat and flush with the mounted area, while baseboard heat registers are usually a triangle shape with the grill on the front.
The design of a heat register can vary from very plain and simple to ornate and intricate. Some of the most delicate designs can be found in Victorian style homes, where the heat registers can mimic the scrolls, swirls, and patterns of a stained glass window. On the opposite end of the spectrum, plain, inexpensive grates are available with an ordinary line or grid pattern. Custom made vent covers are available for individuals who cannot find a mass-produced heat register that fits their needs.
In order for a heat register to work properly, care must be taken to ensure it has plenty of space. An air register should not be blocked by furniture or drapes. Dust or dirt can accumulate on the vent and impede the flow of air. For this reason, routine maintenance of the heat registers, including necessary dusting or vacuuming, should be a part of the regular housekeeping schedule.