Many central air conditioning systems use vent registers with movable shutters to control the amount of air entering a given space. In most instances, a small lever located on the front of the register can be adjusted to open and close the register. Over time, however, these levers can become hard to operate and make controlling airflow difficult or impossible.
However, homeowners are often able to correct problems with vent registers through cleaning and lubrication. Below is more information on this process and what you can do to get your malfunctioning registers working again.
1. Remove the Defective Vent Register
The first step in the process is to remove the defective vent register from its location. Registers are held in place by sheet metal screws, and they can be quickly removed in most instances. Be careful when removing a register, however, so that it doesn’t fall on you or drop to the ground.
2. Clean the Register
The next step in the process of rehabilitating a stubborn vent register is to clean it thoroughly. Use a shop vacuum to remove as much dust and debris as possible from the register, then immerse the register in a bucket of hot water mixed with liquid dish soap.
Allow the register to soak for fifteen minutes, then remove it and use an old toothbrush to scrub it clean. Rinse the register thoroughly in warm water, and then dry it with a clean rag or cloth.
3. Lubricate the Shutter Lever
Once the register is clean, locate the pivot point for the shutter lever and apply a drop or two of light machine oil. Manipulate the lever until it opens and closes smoothly; do not use too much lubricant and avoid the use of spray penetrating oils that will only attract and hold dust.
4. Reinstall the Register
After oiling the shutter lever, reinstall the freshly cleaned and lubricated register in its position. Verify the lever is still working correctly by testing its operation a few times.