HVAC Q&A: How Do I Childproof My Floor Vents?

Today’s HVAC.com Q&A question comes from Linda in Boston, MA. Linda is worried about the safety of her toddler and wants some ideas about how to make her HVAC registers safer. She writes:


My 17-month-old has been lifting our floor registers constantly. He keeps dropping toys down them and even cut his finger this week! I’ve childproofed every inch of my home, but need ideas for childproofing the vents. Can you help?”

Linda’s problem is on the mind of many parents with young toddlers. While there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, there are several different solutions you can use to childproof your registers at home.

Want to get a system check-up just to be safe?

Top ways to childproof your floor vents

  • Secure your registers. If your main concern is your child lifting the registers, the best way to childproof your vents is to secure them in place. Over the years I have seen this done several ways. The first option is to screw or nail your registers into the floor. If your registers are wooden, simply use a drill or hammer to put them into place. If they are metal, you will need to purchase screw in vents. Screwed in vents will keep your child from taking the register off the floor and keep toys out of your ducts. The second option is a less permanent one for securing your vents. Instead of screws or nails, use double-sided tape or velcro to keep your registers down. You will not have to make holes in the floor, but your child may still be able to remove the vent.
  • Screen your registers. If you don’t want to secure your registers in place, but are still worried about toys going down the ducts, you can use screens or filters to block them. Much like the screens that keep bugs out of open windows, you can use vinyl screening to cover your vents and keep toys and other foreign objects out of your ducts. Simply cut the vinyl screens to fit the duct, secure it to the inside of the vent cover, and replace your cover. Another option is to use air filters specifically designed for your vents. Much like screens, these filters will keep objects out of your ducts while allowing air to pass into your home. Screens and filters can also be used in unison with securing your vents for maximum safety.
  • Go plastic. If your biggest concern is sharp, metal vents cutting your child’s fingers, go plastic. Plastic registers are available at any number of home improvement stores and online vendors. This tactic can be used for both floor registers and metal wall registers.
  • Check the outside too. Now that you know how to protect your child from the registers in your home, consider blocking off your outdoor unit if you have one. Your child may not be running around outside just yet, but as he or she grows that AC unit could be a big, shiny problem. This could mean fencing the area in or surrounding it by shrubbery. If you do decide to box in your unit, be sure to leave ample space for HVAC technicians to perform maintenance, or they may refuse to service the unit.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to childproofing your home’s registers. Consider the options above and choose the best for your home!