The straight answer is “No” – you cannot position a bed over a vent. Vents are located in the right places to permit the flow of cold air from the HVAC system into the room. Therefore, installing a bed right above a vent blocks the airflow and may cause your HVAC system to malfunction among other issues.
However, sometimes vents may be positioned in extremely inconvenient places – the only big wall that can be good for your sofa set, the best part in a room perfect for the bed, the sidebar of the dining room, etc.
In such situations, you have no choice but to go ahead and install your bed or other furniture over vents.
What’s An Air Return Vent, To Begin With?
Air return vents are part of the larger HVAC system.
They are slightly larger compared to heat registers. You will find them on walls very close to the floor or on the floor itself.
You won’t feel the air blowing out of these vents even when your HVAC system is working at optimum.
Their job is to receive cold air from the rest of the HVAC system and stream it into the room.
As you can tell, blocking them would be an awful thing to do – it would mean the fresh and cold air can’t be circulated in your room sufficiently.
As such, it would be better for you if you shut off the whole system instead of leaving it to run and pump air that would obviously go to waste.
Five Reasons To Never Install A Bed Over A Vent
1. Imbalance in air circulation
When technicians first set up the HVAC system in your home, they did comprehensive calculations to figure out the size and power of a furnace and AC perfect for adequately cooling and heating it.
A big part of attaining the right temperature in the home is airflow: the technicians’ calculations took into account the amount of air that would flow via the system.
It is delicately balanced, that is why all the vents in your home need to remain open and unblocked.
When you position a bed over one or several of them, however, the set balance is interfered with, resulting in your house being deprived of fresh cold air.
At that point, you are better off without a running HVAC system because you are not fully benefiting from the hefty bills that come with home cooling.
2. Malfunctioning HVAC system and unutilized power
When you block vents in your home, the entire HVAC system is forced to work harder to suck hot air into the system and expel the cold air into your rooms.
This extra work can result in two things: damage to the system and/or high cooling bills.
Working harder means the system will wear out faster and require frequent maintenance and even complete replacement.
Another thing you don’t want to see is a bloated energy bill – when the HVAC system is forced to work harder, it will consume more energy.
3. Destruction of wood and beddings
By the way, wood is highly vulnerable to cold and musty conditions, especially when exposed to them for long periods.
Remember that the air emanating from the vents is supposed to cool your home, so it is cold enough to form a layer of moisture on some parts of your bed in a certain period.
If it ends up with the formation of mildew or mold, some ugly marks and discolorations may be left on your bed, meaning you don’t stand a chance of reselling it ever again.
Some severe situations might require complete replacement of your beddings and even the bed itself.
4. Fire and freeze hazard
The effects of blocked vents may spread to another device you wouldn’t even have thought about – the furnace.
Your furnace is equipped with a heat exchanger – a metal coil that receives the air, heats it, and passes it to the rest of the system to be streamed into the room – that must be fed with air by the systems’ blowers.
Blocked vents would mean less air is reaching the heat exchanger.
In extreme situations, the heat exchanger may overheat, expand, and crack.
The end product is usually a chilly home, a fire hazard, huge energy bills, and a very unhappy homeowner.
5. Risk of mildew and mold growth
When installed over a vent, beds, mattresses and other upholstered furniture tend to trap the cold and humid air emanating from the vents under them.
When the stagnant air meets cotton, linen, or some synthetic and natural fibers and fabrics, a musty environment is created underneath.
The worst part is that you will never realize until too late because all the growth takes place under the bed away from your sight.
And because beddings tend to be hygroscopic (they are prone to soaking up moisture very much like a sponge), they will be slowly lowered to landfill status in the long run.
Two Corrective Measures To Help Remedy The Problem
As we mentioned earlier, sometimes it is very necessary that your bed must be installed over a vent.
Maybe the vented location is the only place that matches the dimensions of your bed. It can be any reason. Here is what to do to avert the worst from occurring:
1. Install vent deflectors
Vent deflectors work in a similar way as the sound deflectors we often install at the back of the iPad to deflect the sound from rear speakers to the front.
When you install deflection protectors over the vent, air will be directed sideways instead of flowing directly onto the bottom part of your bed.
NOTE: Consider the direction you want the air to go when buying vent deflectors. For instance, you don’t want to deflect the air into a wall.
Rather, you want it to leave via the open side of your bed’s underside.
You might also want to consider the type of vent deflector perfect for your needs. One-way deflectors deflect the air into one direction whereas two-way deflectors deflect the air into two directions.
There also exist more advanced four-way deflectors for four-way air deflection.
You can get a decent vent deflector on Amazon, LOWES, or Home Depot for as less as $5. Check out these examples:
This is one of the best vent deflectors for steel vents.
Bear in mind that it was specifically made for steel vents and no other type of vents.
It is magnetically installed and still easy to remove. You might love the simplicity of the design, and the price too.
This two-way vent deflector is marketed as suitable for office spaces, but I don’t see a reason why it can’t be used on just any vent anywhere.
It comes with all the necessary credentials: magnetically installed, fits multiple sizes ranging between 2-3/4″ wide up to and 4-3/4″ wide by 4 ft long, and is reusable.
It can be used on ceilings as well.
If you would like an adjustable vent deflector, this is one of the best options you will find on Amazon.
It is a one-way deflector that works with both floor and wall-based vents.
The clear polycarbonate construction is also resistant to impact-induced breakage.
2. Obey the 18 inches rule
If you can install your bed over a vent in such a way that free space of 18 inches is left between the vent and the closet edge of the bed, go ahead and do it.
The ideal clearance space for most types of vents is 18 inches, so you are less likely to experience problems with this maneuver.
There exist bed designs with as high as 25 inches clearance height from the floor.
Then there are those that leave zero clearance. Choose your bed carefully if you don’t want to use vent deflectors.
Positioning a bed over a vent is never an option unless it’s very necessary.
A bed installed directly above a vent blocks the stream of air pumped by the HVAC via the vents. This may cause the HVAC system to overwork and cause bloated energy bills.
An overworked HVAC system will need frequent maintenance and even end up with a shortened lifespan. The cold air emanating from the vent may create a layer of mustiness on the beddings.
In cases where having a bed over a vent is a must-do, there are a few things you can do to prevent blocking the airflow.
The first and most recommended fix is to install a vent deflector which serves to redirect the airflow sideways. This prevents the air from following directly on the bed.
The second fix is to obey the 18-inch rule. Most vents work perfectly when an 18-inch clearance height is maintained above them.
This means you’ll need to be choosy with the kind of bed to install in your bedroom.
Beds that come in direct contact with the floor or those offering less than 18-inch clearance space would not be fit for use.