Cold Air Return in Unfinished Basement: 3 Ways to Cap It!

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Air return is very important for any household. However, capping the cold air return in any incomplete basement is necessary to complete necessary works.

So, how can you cap cold air return in unfinished basement?

You can block the air duct damper. That is an efficient way to completely limit the cold air return. However, this can be very dangerous for people up stairs. So, you can use a fan on the furnace to redirect cold air out of the basement. Lastly, keeping the basement returns open can be helpful.

Even though this gives a brief idea, you should know more to take the appropriate steps. Keeping that in mind, I will explain each step in detail.

Should You Cap Cold Air Return in an Incomplete Basement?

Always keeping cold air return is very important. But this doesn’t apply to an incomplete basement. Air return in an incomplete basement can cause several issues. Those are listed below.

Issue 1 of 3: Polluted Air

Lots of drilling, sawing, and usage of cement is done in an unfinished business. As a result, if air returns take place, sawdust and other particles will scatter. That’s a serious hazard to your health.

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So, to keep the workplace safe, blocking the cold air return is very important. Also, having proper home ventilation for better airflow is very important.

Issue 2 of 3: Materials Getting Worn out

Another issue with cold air returns in an unfinished basement is material getting worn out. For instance, you need to use cement in some cases. Some types of cement can get unexpectedly hard if air return is constant.

Hence, to keep up the productivity, you should cap the air return. That way, you can save the required materials from getting wasted.

Issue 3 of 3: Inadequate Amount of Air Return

While working on a basement, you may notice a massive air return inside your basement. This can be a problem, and upper stories won’t get the necessary cold air. 

This can be harmful to the household. No matter what, the air return should be in control. Thus capping the air returns can significantly hinder the massive intake of air.

These 3 issues explain why you should cap the air return in the unfinished basement. Nevertheless, keeping a minimal air return is necessary. Otherwise, the basement gets hot. Furthermore, you may lack air which can cause breathing problems.

However, the question is, how can you cap cold air return in your unfinished basement? Well, the procedures are elementary and effective. In the next section, I will address each step in detail.

So, let’s move along to find the solution to such a scenario.

3 Ways to Cap Cold Air Return in Your Unfinished Basement

Capping cold air return in any incomplete basement is necessary. However, some people are confusing how to do it. Cold air drafts originating from returns can also be a big problem.

So, you need to take steps as soon as possible. You can do so, by following three easy ways:

Blocking the Air Duct Damper

Every new and old basement has an air duct damper. This air duct damper will outtake hot air from the inside and intake cold air from outside. Thus, blocking the air duct damper can effectively cap the cold air returns.

To do so, you need to take a piece of metal sheet. The metal sheet needs to be bigger than the damper.

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Now, cut the metal sheet according to your damper. The size doesn’t need to be perfect whatsoever.

Lastly, you can use duct tape to attach the metal sheet to the air duct damper. This way, however, completely blocks off the air. There are many airflow-controllable dampers available on the market. The reliable dampers are given below.

ProductReason to buyPrice
Suncourt ZoneMaster Fully Adjustable Motorized Airflow Control Zone DamperCompatible with ThermostatGet it from Amazon
HVAC Duct Manual Volume Damper Budget-FriendlyGet it from Amazon
Universal Air Damper with Pressure Sensor KitAdvanced Pressure Sensor KitGet it from Amazon

These dampers are known for being durable and they last for decades. So you can install and just forget about them!

Using a Fan on a Furnace

One of several ways of air intake happens through to furnace. A furnace diverts the cold air inside the basement. This results in the unfinished basement being cold. However, there is an easy solution to it.

You can use a fan to redirect the cold air return upwards. That way through the chimney, the cold air will leave. You can also use an exhaust fan as an effective measure.

Typically, furnace fans aim to remove the hot air through the chimney. But without any hot air, the furnace can effectively deliver cold air outside the house. So, you can try this one first.

Keeping the Basement Returns Open

You can pump out the cold air from the unfinished basement to the upper stairs. In fact, leaving the basement returns open can do the trick.

Leave your basement returns open throughout the summer. The cold air from the basement will be pushed up to the top floors. 

Even when it’s cold outside, keep your basement return closed. If it’s open, your heat pump will have to reheat the chilly air from your basement as well. Using quality vent covers that facilitate proper aeration can help a lot with that. 

Depending on the weather, you should consider this action. Otherwise, capping cold air return won’t be effective. If done correctly, you can easily avert even a massive cold air intake inside your basement.


That’s all regarding the procedures of capping. Albeit, there are several reasons behind the cold liquid line of the air conditioner. The cold liquid line can cause damage to the air conditioner. Hence you need to take the proper steps.


Is It Possible to Install a Cold Air Return on the Ceiling?

Yes, it is possible to install a cold air Return on the ceiling. Most houses throughout the USA feature compelled air duct dampers. Most apartments in newer homes will have cold air return vents on both. You may select which air returns to the HVAC system periodically by having two air return vents.

Is It Possible to Install a Filter on My Cold Air Return?

Yes, you can install air filters on your cold air return. It can efficiently filter out dust from the air. You will have fresh, and unpolluted air inside your house through it. Even these filters won’t harm the air duct damper. Hence, you can choose this to filter out dirt and dust from the outside air.

Is Putting Home Appliances in Front of a Cold Return Safe?

No, it is discouraged to put any home appliances in front of a cold return. It can severely damage your air duct by trapping the heat. Plus, it can harm the airflow a house requires. You should put the home appliances at least 6-12 feet apart. That way, it won’t harm the air ventilation system.


That’s all on the topic of cold air return in an unfinished basement. Now you can follow a few simple steps to cap the air return in your basement.

Here’s a piece of advice, having an air duct in the center can be very helpful. It can properly airflow the cold air inside your house.

Take care!

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