Air return grill
Unlike most modern architectural structures, locations for a Victorian air return grill are often on the floor. Additionally, because the probability the original furnace was the gravity type, the opening dimensions are often excruciatingly large. Presently, contemporary construction oversized air returns are typically located on the wall or ceiling since floor locations often necessitate extra thought about how to support the weight of people walking on them. Not surprisingly, the larger an air return grill is, the more likely it is to experience problems related to structural integrity. Wood joints can deteriorate, metal interconnections can experience detachment. On modern construction air return grill units often are located at the junction of the wall and floor, in between the baseboards. This makes sense as when the heated air from the furnace cools off, it sinks through convection and ultimately is directed through the air return grill at approximately floor level to makes it's way back to the furnace for reheating and sent back through the supply registers again completing the cycle.
Eggcrate air return grills
Many issues involve floor located air return grill units. For exemplification, one popular classification of the period, wood eggcrate design, typically constructed on location utilizing joinery that generally was mediocre, sometimes didn't even containing adhesive glued joints. Over the decades as residents walked on the considerably sized air return grill the joints would flex, become substantially less structutally satisfactory. Then as the wood floors were periodically refinished the air return grill would get sanded in the process and become thinner and thinner, which of course only exacerbated the structural problems. For this reason most of these air return grills have not survived intact. Yet, it is not an easy matter to simply replace them. Often, the dimensions of the existing air return grill are very unusual, which can be problematic. A metal air return grill can be made, but the cost can be a surprise to the upside. The good news is that one of our specialties is making this style of eggcrate air return grill both in the flush mount version in which the top is at the same level as the surrounding floor. Or we can make them surface mount where there is a three quarter inch lip that rests on the existing floor. Surface mount air return grill units are somewhat less costly and are easy to install since you simply drop them in the opening just light a regular vent cover. The flush mount version looks great, but is a little more expensive and is much more problematic to install. Original air return grills rested on a ledge about one and a quarter inches below the floor surface. You might want to look and see if you have one of these ledges. Our units are made the same height, but it is likely that your floor has been refinished through the years and sanded in the process so it is probable that it is now less than one and a quarter inches down to the ledge. That is something we'll need to talk about.
But then there is the fact that this style of air return grill is only structurally strong enough for floor use if you duct openings are twelve by twelve inches or less. Here is some good news. We make both the surface mount and flush mount versions with welded steel support structures underneath just for this situation. This is an incredibly good solution to adding structural integrity and works out to be the most cost effective method of dealing with this type of air return grill situation. If you have this kind of scenario then you'll need to call us to discuss. It is a good idea to take careful measurements first and we also may need to have photos emailed to us so we can see what is going on. But it should be reassuring to know that our replacement eggcrate air return grill units are substantially higher quality and stronger than the original pieces. Plus, we are able to offer not only red oak, but also many other wood options including white oak, hickory, maple, walnut, and a wide variety of additional woods.
For air return grills that are located in between two baseboards, considered our louvered baseboard grill, which can be made in any dimension you need to fit perfectly. Sometimes air returns need to have built in filters. Usually a filter is located right next to the furnace, but occasionally this isn't possible. In that event the aforementioned Olympia grille will work, and the geometric style is excellent also especially since we can make any oddball size necessary. And if your taste runs more towards metal, then consider the Turner collection air return grills, which have a number of different faceplate designs and lots of popular sizes. These are cast units and have a great three dimensional look to them.