Blocked Air Return
Q: The main return air vent for our forced-air heating system is in a coat closet. What would you suggest we do?
The main return air vent for our forced-air heating system is in a coat closet, which means we have to keep the closet door open all winter so that enough air can reach the vent. This is very inconvenient. Short of taking the door off entirely, what would you suggest we do?
— Joe Koziatek, East Lyme, Connecticut
Richard Trethewey replies: You could create a new air vent by cutting through an adjacent wall and into the existing return duct. Ask your heating contractor whether that might work. But the easier solution would be to replace your solid door with a louvered one, sometimes called a vented door.
Be sure that both door panels have real louvers to allow maximum air flow (some doors have false louvers on the bottom panel). Also, you may have to trim the door's bottom edge so that there's about 1 inch of clearance between the floor or the carpeting and the bottom of the door. Then you can keep the door closed all the time.