Is It OK to Cover a Heating Vent?

Wasting energy and money to heat unused rooms is quite annoying. Fortunately, some heating systems will have special levers for redirecting heat away from some of their vents and into other areas. Not all systems have that feature, however.

So, what can you do in such a situation? Is it OK to cover a heating vent to stop the heat flow from going in a certain room? What about unintentional blocking – a bed covering heating vents or something similar?

The short answer is that blocking or covering a heating vent is generally safe if it’s done adequately. A good heating system of any kind will have enough leeway to account for one blocked vent and adjust the heat levels and airflow among its other vents. This can result in both increased heating through the system’s other vents and lowered energy costs.

What about the risks, however? As with anything related to heating systems, you should always know what you’re doing and check for possible problems.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to safely cover heat vents:

Inspect the entire heat system for malfunctions

You should do a full annual maintenance anyway so you can just do that before. It’s important to check the entire system since problems can arise anywhere once you’ve redirected the airflow.

Consider the airflow volume

If your heating systems have only three vents, blocking one will increase the flow through the other two by 50%. If you have 5 vents, blocking one will increase the flow through the other 4 by 25%. The more vents you have, the easier it is to block one of them. If there are 7-8 or more vents you can even get away with blocking 2 vents safely.

Simply put, while it’s almost always safe to block one vent, make sure that the rest of your system can function well after that.

Pick a heat-resistant material for the cover

As we said, some systems have built-in levers that trigger internal metal covers for each vent. If no such built-in covers are present, you’re going to have to make a cover of your own.

So, how to cover a heating vent safely?

    • Some companies manufacture magnetic vent covers for any system.
    • Alternatively, you can fashion a cover yourself. Just make sure you use a heat-resistant material. Fitted cardboard pieces wrapped in aluminum foil can work as does plywood. Use magnet or small metal weights to keep the cover in place.
    • Do NOT try to block a vent with naked wood. Many homeowners make the mistake of blocking vents with furniture items such as beds, cupboards, and so on. This is definitely not a good idea.

To make sure everything is running smoothly and avoid covering heating vent fire hazard, run routine checkups on both the covered vent and the rest of your heating system.

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