Attachment issues. With my wall vent.
October 10, 2018 5:47 AM   Subscribe

I painted a wall recently and noticed that my wall vent seemed to be attached to the wall with some sort packling/plaster like substance (see here, but there was a lot more of it). It was kind of crumbling, so i scraped it all off and took the vent off. Now that I'm done painting, I realized that there's nowhere to screw in the vent. There's no little hole for a screw to go in, so I'm guessing thats why the previous person spackled it in.

Should I use a construction adhesive to fix it to the wall? Should I use caulking? Duct sealant?

Will it have issues with air circulation?

See pictures here:

posted by cacofonie to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
They have screw holes because they're supposed to be screwed in, not glued in. Duct grills should be removable for cleaning and (as you know) painting. That said, if there's nowhere for the screws to anchor, you are kind of stuck unless you add something to screw into. There should be little sheet metal ears on the duct box in the wall. Check if they've been folded back, or did they snap off somehow? You may need to add something for the screws to sink into, which could be a narrow strip of wood glued to the box or etc.

I wouldn't blame you for just gluing it back up, which is lazy and wrong, but understandable, as fixing this is a lot of hassle. In which case a dot of caulk at each corner will hold it up reasonably well, but allow non-destructive removal if necessary.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:58 AM on October 10, 2018

Sigh. What a drag!

I agree with Mr. Puckett, especially the implication that a full bead of construction adhesive would be a problem in the future.

Please do make an effort to assess if there is a flange or lip top and bottom to screw into. That's the way to go, if you can make it work.
posted by Glomar response at 6:01 AM on October 10, 2018

You could just sink a few drywall anchors into where the holes should be and then put the screws into those. It might not work perfectly, but it would certainly work as well as putting a few dabs of caulking in the corners. You even have a nice ready template by using the existing cover. Ideally there is a metal tab that the screws should fit into, a-la seanmpuckett but I can't see any evidence of them on your photos at all. It is possible that they are hiding under the overly exuberant filling job that was done to the hole, but again if you cant find them by screwing things in, then they're probably not there.
posted by koolkat at 6:04 AM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Construction adhesive would work and then some, but then you create the problem that the next time you need to get the vent cover off you're going to destroy the surrounding drywall. It looks like maybe the sheet metal flange on the register box that the register cover should screw into has been folded back into the register at the bottom? If the flange isn't present or has not been installed correctly I'd try carefully installing plastic drywall anchors where the screw holes align.
posted by drlith at 6:07 AM on October 10, 2018

And if that fails, because being close to the edge of the cut that's a fragile spot to try to install an anchor, I'd go with something like poster putty--it doesn't really need to support much weight, it just needs to keep the vent from falling out accidentally. Also, there's no need for it to be a tight seal.
posted by drlith at 6:09 AM on October 10, 2018

There's no reason you can't use a little bead of caulk if you have to as seanmpuckett says. When you need to remove it again you can just run a thin blade around the cover. Really depends on how often you'll need access.
posted by pipeski at 6:10 AM on October 10, 2018

Build a wood frame painted to match the wall, something thin and well sanded? Attach that to the wall (adhesive and nails?) then screw the cover plate into the wood?

Do you rent or own?
posted by jbenben at 6:12 AM on October 10, 2018

After looking at your pics more carefully.... I would build an attractive slim wooden frame painted the same color as the vent and use good construction adhesive to attach it over the vent hole. I would screw the vent into the frame.

I would be very angry with whoever did this.

You may also be able to find a metal frame you can spray paint and seal to match the vent cover then adhesive that to the walll, attach the vent the same way. Poke around the internet and/or your local home depot. You could pay a local fabricator to make the frame in metal to spec, too, especially if you own this property.
posted by jbenben at 6:18 AM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Bending the flange so you can screw into it is best, but I think you'll find it easier to use drywall screw anchors than building a wood frame (though I can't quite tell from the picture where it would line up), but all these are better than gluing it back into place.
posted by flimflam at 1:57 PM on October 10, 2018

I'd take two lengths of 1/8" x 1" aluminum flat bar a couple inches longer than the short width of your hole. Stick those to the back of the gyproc with your construction adhesive such that they'll be behind your two screw holes in the vent. Wait a day to cure than use any sort of self drilling screw to attach the vent to the aluminum and therefor the wall.
posted by Mitheral at 11:00 PM on October 10, 2018

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