Basement Drywall Ceiling Vent Cover – Part 3 – Solution ‘C’

Two days ago in Part 1 of this short series we explained the issue we had with the opening in the drywalled basement ceiling in the ‘boyfriend room’ preventing us from having a conventional vent cover:

  • both the vent opening in the drywall and the wood frame therein did not allow for a conventional ceiling vent cover to be held with screws in the ceiling, and
  • the same wood frame and excess duct work metal, even after removal of some of the excess would not allow the interior frame of a conventional ceiling vent cover to protrude sufficiently into the opening in the ceiling.

Yesterday in Part 2 we revealed the first two parts of our three part solution to our challenge of covering the vent hole in the ceiling (but not have it looking like you-know-what as well as being able to actually allow air to flow from the vent when it was needed:

  • use of a cold air return cover that did not have the lever to block the air, and
  • use of a magnetized vent blocker to block the heated (in the winter) or cooled (in the summer) from entering the little used room

For solution ‘C’ we went to Goodes Home Hardware store that was just a few blocks away. We have written about Goodes Home Hardware previously.

When I explained the situation to the sales associate he thought for a minute then gave me solution C.

Remember now, one of the issues was that a conventional ceiling vent cover could not be held in place in the ceiling as explained above. And, with solutions A and B I could not go with the much lighter plastic cold air return that would not take much to hold in place; rather, I was going with a heavier metal cold air return and to add a bit more weight the vent blocker.

So, the associate at the hardware store suggested that I should check to see if it was possible to attach a small piece of wood at either end of the opening above the drywall. If is was possible to do this I could then, once in place, insert the screw through the opening at the both ends of the cold air return and into each small piece of wood, thus holding the cold air return in place.

I went back home and checked the opening and sure enough this might be possible.

So, now for the wood. Crap. I could not find any wood anywhere in the house. I could find a small package of shims used to level door frames (not surprising since we replaced all of the doors in the main floor last summer).

pakcage of shims Basement Drywall Ceiling Vent Cover   Part 3   Solution C

I didn’t think this would work as shims are incredibly fragile. What I did was to drill guide holes through a ½ dozen or so of the shims when they were still held together in the package and to then insert two screws through the first 3 shims.

shims with screws Basement Drywall Ceiling Vent Cover   Part 3   Solution C

Then I drilled the hole for the screw which would ultimately pass through the screw opening in the vent cover and into the side of the group of shims. This was followed by then using a saw to cut the first three shims. This worked. I repeated this for the next three shims.

shims pre drilled Basement Drywall Ceiling Vent Cover   Part 3   Solution C

I then proceeded to install each set of pre-screwed shims into the framework inside either end of the vent opening in the boyfriend room. I attempted to pre-drill the hole in this framework at each end.

Upon installation, one of the shim groups held firm. The other same partially apart but not so much that I had to build another shim group.

cold air return cover on ceiling Basement Drywall Ceiling Vent Cover   Part 3   Solution C

Yea! icon smile Basement Drywall Ceiling Vent Cover   Part 3   Solution C

I then screwed the cold air return cover into ceiling followed by placing the magnetized vent blocker on top.

vent cover blocker on ceiling vent cover Basement Drywall Ceiling Vent Cover   Part 3   Solution C

And there you have it, the solution we used to finally cover the vent hole in the ceiling and to block the heated / cooled air yet allow it to still flow into the room when desired.

If anyone tries this approach I would appreciate hearing from you in case it also worked for you. Or if you have another approach that might have worked in our situation I’d like to hear about that as well.

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  1. Vasile says:


    I had a similar issue in the basement. It would be a good idea to fill all the space between the duct and the wood frame with expandable foam. When the vent is covered, this will prevent the supply air to find its way into the ceiling, where it’s not useful at all. The foam can comes with a straw, so you can easily apply it in narrow places.

    BTW, our energy assessor recommended this fix, and we did it for all the vents in the house, both supply and return. It makes sense, why heating unused space?

  2. Dan says:

    Hi Vasile,


    I have to purchase the expandable foam for the non-insullated spaces in the cold cellar door frame caught by our energy auditor on the second audit (I know, I know … why not during the first energy audit), so I’ll be sure to do that as well.


  3. Vasile says:

    Re: expanding foam, I usually make a list of all the places I need to fill. Once a can it’s open, basically you have to use all of it. Although they say you can use the leftovers in 15 days, it never really worked for me :-(

  4. Dan says:

    Same here.

    That’s why for the cracks by the basement fireplace I used a different type of expanding foam; it was white, not the off yellow-ish colour and it was easy to clean up so I can reuse it again.

    I wrote about it about a month back or so about the air leaks around our basement fireplace which I felt when I was installing the plastic window covering on the inside of our large basement windows before the energy audit.


  5. Robert says:

    Thanks for the good tips AND helpful photos…

  6. Danny says:

    I had the exact same problem, new renovated basement with drywall ceiling and vents in the ceiling. I wasnt able to use any of your suggestions, but i didnt come up with a fourth solution.
    Instead of the metal vents, i picked up some white, plastic ones. Then i super glued a hex nut to the side. when it was dried, just popped it up in the vent. The hex nut helped add some additional preasure to the cover that kept it in place, without even needing to put the screws in. I had 4 vents to do this for and all of them were different, so you may need to use bigger hex nuts/more than one if required.

  7. Dan says:

    Hi Danny,

    What did you do to ensure that the vent was properly sealed to heated air in the winter and cooled air in the summer didn’t escape as mentioned by Vasile in his comment above?


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