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Does it help to close vents in summer? We are asked this question concerning cooling (or heating) unoccupied areas of your home. According to electricrate.com, closed air vents don’t promote energy efficiency, contrary to popular belief. Instead, they do the exact opposite and may even create more harm than good.

It is all about managing airflow efficiently. When some vents are closed, the air must go somewhere, pressure builds in the system, and leaks occur.  These leaks, even small leaks, can force your furnace to work harder and increase costs.

Does Closing Vents in Unused Rooms Help Airflow?

No, it doesn’t. In fact, it does the opposite, and it poses additional risks, too.

Closing the vents decreases the return airflow, which can cause the heat exchanger to overheat, damaging this expensive component of your HVAC system. You don’t want to operate a defective heat exchanger because it can cause carbon monoxide to seep from your system.

Does Closing Vents Help Other Areas of the House?

It’s a myth that closing the vents helps other areas of your home get more conditioned air. Instead, the air you want to redirect into the rooms you use gets lost through the duct system. As a result, some areas in your house don’t get the cooling or heating they need.  Rather than increasing the comfort of your home, closing the vents detract from it and even raises your energy consumption.

Issues with Closing Vents

Homeowners are diligent and energy-saving-minded, so closing vents in your HVAC system seems like a good idea. However, damage, seen and unseen, can occur.

  • Closed vents can instigate a duct to burst due to pressure build-up. As a result, the air that should go into your living space gets diverted to areas that don’t need it, such as the attic or crawl spaces. Replacing the ductwork will set you back around $35 to $55 per linear foot, including labor and materials.
  • Your heat exchanger can overheat, and cracks can occur, allowing carbon monoxide to leak. Carbon monoxide is undetectable with an alarm and can cause death.
  • Mold! Changing temperature and airflow can cause mold. Mold presents a serious health risk, especially for people with allergies or asthma.

Basement Vents: open or closed?

You can save money by closing basement air vents in the summer, but please do it intermittently. Hot air and humidity can enter your basement if the vents are left open during the summer. Your basement can get musty and moldy, causing extensive damage.

Be sure to rotate the closed vents on a specific schedule so one vent is not closed longer than another and airflow is consistent.

What’s that smell?

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Besides humidity, outdoor air through open vents also lets in dust mites and possible toxic particles into your basement. These smells take hold of your basement air and emit a stale and unpleasant odor. The most frequently asked questions and comments asked of the basement service providers are:

  • There’s a bad smell coming from under my house. The smell could be from any number of sources, as discussed. If the air is circulating within your home, your family and pets could be exposed to bacteria creating respiratory problems, allergies, or infection.
  • Why does my basement smell musty and mildewy? Same story! Improper ventilation, dehumidification, and standing water will force a musty and mildewy odor.
  • Use a dehumidifier.  You do not need to spend a fortune to dehumidify your basement. A simple dehumidifier that either drains directly into the sump pump or one that you have to empty will provide better air quality and less humidity.

Basement Solutions and Resources to Keep Humidity Levels Low

The presence of basement humidity does not necessarily mean that you have a water issue or mold. However, basement humidity comes from somewhere, and a no-cost inspection and estimate are well worth your time. Contact us to learn more and keep your family and home healthy and mold-free.

Aardvark Basement Proz LLC


Resources: electricrate.com