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How to Add a New Ceiling Return to an Existing HVAC System

When your existing ducts lack enough air return vents, how to add a new ceiling return solves the problem. You have this problem if a room or space fails to receive sufficient warm or cool air. Without an air return, the conditioned air blowing through the supply vents slows down due to back pressure. The new air has nowhere to go because air cannot exit the room.

You should only attempt to add a new ceiling return vent if you have confidence and experience working with ducts. You will need to cut holes in the ceiling and your existing ducts. Mistakes will be costly and inconvenient to correct.

Tools NeededNew Ceiling Return

  • Flashlight
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight edge
  • Sharpie marker
  • Utility knife
  • Sheet rock saw
  • Hand saw or circular saw
  • Power drill
  • Tin snips
  • Ladder

How to Add a New Ceiling Return to an Existing HVAC System

  1. Go into your attic with a flashlight and locate your existing return air ducts.
  2. Find where you want to cut the ceiling for a new return air duct.
  3. Move aside the insulation covering the spot where you intend to cut the return.
  4. Measure the distance between where you will cut and the existing return duct.
  5. Purchase circular flexible ducting to span this distance. Buy more length than the exact measurement. This gives you room for adjustments or correcting errors.
  6. Purchase a circular collar for connecting the flexible ducting to the existing duct.
  7. Purchase a duct return box that will fit over the new hole. If the box does not come with a circular attachment, buy a second round collar to add to the box.
  8. Buy a register cover that fits the opening you intend to cut.
  9. To continue how to add a new ceiling return, go into the room where you want to install the return vent.
  10. Climb the ladder and begin measuring for your hole.
  11. Mark the outline of your hole on the ceiling between two joists.
  12. After measuring, draw lines with a marker and straight edge to guide your cutting. Double check the size with your register cover. Leave enough space so that you can screw it into place on the edges of the hole.
  13. Score the lines on the drywall with a utility knife.
  14. Cut the hole in the drywall with a sheet rock saw.
  15. Cut two 2×4 pieces of lumber to fit between the joists.
  16. Return to the attic and fit the 2x4s into place to form a frame around your hole.
  17. Drive screws with your power drill to attach the 2x4s to the joists.
  18. If you need to attach a circular collar to your return box, trace around the collar on the box.
  19. Drill a starter hole in the return box.
  20. Insert tin snips into the hole and cut out the circle.
  21. Fit the collar onto the return box.
  22. Fold back the tabs to secure the connection.
  23. Seal the seam with aluminum HVAC tape.
  24. Set the box over the hole and secure in place with screws.
  25. Fit the flexible ducting over the circular collar.
  26. Go to the existing return duct in the attic.
  27. Cut a circular hole in the existing return duct. Use the power drill and tin snips as you did before.
  28. Fit the circular collar into the new hole.
  29. Extend the flexible ducting between the return box and new hole.
  30. Connect the flexible ducting.
  31. Seal all seams with HVAC tape.
  32. Secure the register grill over the hole on the ceiling.

Contact Oliver’s HVAC Experts

A well-balanced airflow ensures optimal heating and cooling functions. One or more return air vents could improve your situation, but they need to be properly positioned. Our HVAC technicians at Oliver know how to add a new ceiling return. We install and adjust ducts as part of our work every day. Trust your home to us for maximum comfort. Contact us today about any concerns with your ducts.

Need help with this project?

If you do not have the time, tools, or experience necessary to complete the project, please contact the professionals at Oliver for help.

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