Maybe your one-year-old has pulled up a register off the floor and had it land on their fingers or toes. Or maybe you’ve found a surprising number of little toys or mystery objects near the register vents (making you wonder what has already made its way down the ductwork…)
For whatever reason, kids seem to be fascinated with registers, and it’s a good idea to childproof the ones they come into contact with. Here are a few ideas:
- Secure your register to the floor by hammering, screwing down, or gluing the bottom of the register to the floor. This will keep little hands from lifting up the register face and either dropping in or opening a hole large enough to stick a little hand or foot through.
- If you don’t want such a permanent method, you can try attaching Velcro strips or double-sided foam mounting tape to the underside of your register and attach it to the floor that way. While it’s less secure than a nail or screw, it’s also less scarring to the floor.
- Put a vinyl cover over the register to prevent little items from going through the slots. These are available at any department or hardware store, and usually attach with a magnetic backing. Unless your child is particularly persistent, it should help stop the flow of debris down your ducts. Be aware that these completely block air flow, however, and shouldn’t be used permanently because they make your air conditioner work much harder.
- You can sometimes find breathable air filters made specifically for register vents at local hardware stores.
- You can make your own breathable filters by fastening a piece of screen mesh or even a dryer sheet to the bottom of your filter, using tape or glue. Be sure to leave a little bit of a ‘hammock’ so you will be able to open and close the vent slits easily. For vents that don’t open and close, you can simply attach the screening material directly to the floor.
- Hiding the registers is another option. Put furniture in front of the vent to block it from view, just be sure not to cover it completely. Likewise, placing a low legged chair might also provide a good camouflage, at least for a while. You don’t want to restrict air flow in that way permanently, just while there’s a curious toddler with small toys around.
Childproofing your registers is just one of the many tasks a parent faces when there are little ones at home. These things you can do yourself but if you need any help or find something particularly difficult to retrieve, contact your local HVAC professional to give you a hand.