Basement Drywall Ceiling Vent Cover – Part 1 – The Issue

I’ve mentioned in prior articles my strong dislike for using drywall as a basement ceiling cover in an home improvement activity. Imagine all of the work I would have had to undertaken to repair all of what would have been damaged drywall from both our en suite shower leak and our potty room toilet leak. The room containing the electrical panel, like most of the basement, was already finished when we purchased our home.

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However, like the finished 2-piece bathroom in the basement, the ceiling of the electrical panel room (which we have affectionately named ‘The Boyfriend Room’ :-) ) was finished with drywall. Let’s hope that we never have a home repair activity required in the ceiling of that room. Well, we do.

Now, the prior owners did not finish 100% of the room. What they neglected to finish was the cover for the heating / cooling vent in the ceiling.

vent opening in drywall ceiling Basement Drywall Ceiling Vent Cover   Part 1   The Issue

Sure, they installed the vent, cut the hole for the vent but never installed the cover.

Now I know why.

They did not properly install the opening in the ceiling into which the typical ceiling vent cover would fit and connect with the duct opening. When I tried to install the typical ceiling vent cover it would not go in.  And, when I cut away some of the excess metal duct work I noticed that the frame around the opening was not done correctly and the hole in the drywall was too large. Both of these meant that I was not able to insert the screws through the vent cover and into the drywall (with or without a butterfly plug) or the wood frame sufficiently to hold the vent in place).

Likely (conjecture on my part), rather than repair their work to do it right they left it for some poor sap to deal with, if at all.

Now, I have no patience for certain things. One of which is taking the time to do something when I am not good at it and will likely make things worse.

But I didn’t want to leave the opening in the ceiling. That opening is causing cold air conditioned air to pour into that basement room in the summer when it is already cool; this is costing me money.

That opening is also causing heated air in the winter to pour in from the furnace heating and area that is rarely used; again costing me money and consuming non-renewable resource to heat the air (natural gas in our case).

So, I was determined to put a ceiling vent cover to stop this waste, even if it did not look the best.

Well,  this was not possible. The standard ceiling vent cover, which really is the same as a floor vent cover except is has a hole in either end into which one can insert the screws to hold it in the ceiling, would not fit.

This was even after I tried to trim the excess metal from the duct opening.

Tomorrow, we look at the solution we came up with; actually it was three different solutions combined to meet our needs.

To continue to the next article in this short series, simply select this link to Part 2.

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  1. sara says:

    We had the exact same problem. I took your advise but due to the space around the vent I placed one shim above the drywall then screwed through the drywall to the shim. Then screwed on the cold air return covers. it is not perfect but but better then having a big hole in the ceiling!

  2. Dan says:

    Hi Sara,

    Do remember to check for air leaks. In subsequent articles I show how I used duct tape to cover the openings around the vent duct’s boot.

    Otherwise the air from the vent simply is redirected from the vent into the space between the ceiling drywall and floor joints above.


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