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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    7

    Okay to paint inside of a return?

    My hallway ceiling was painted a dark grey about a month ago. Since I was able to see the wood of the very economically designed "joist bay HVAC return" through the register, I decided to paint the inside if the return as well with the ceilings Benjamin Moore Acrylic Latex Flat.

    I was told doing this shouldn't pose any health risks. Has anyone ever painted the inside of a return before?


    Regards,
    Chris

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    523
    Paint will off gas and that does bother certain people and in reality isnt good for anyone. But if you think about it, the hallway you painted those fumes get pulled through that return anyway.

    So in essence its no worse to paint the inside of that return as it is to paint the house. So you'll be fine.

    On new installs we'll paint the inside of returns that you can sometimes see into black just so you cant see metal or the backside or drywall or whatever....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    73
    Ditto what CynicX said. A flat black paint is what I would use. Just turn off the furnace before you paint.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    853
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris75 View Post
    My hallway ceiling was painted a dark grey about a month ago. Since I was able to see the wood of the very economically designed "joist bay HVAC return" through the register, I decided to paint the inside if the return as well with the ceilings Benjamin Moore Acrylic Latex Flat.

    I was told doing this shouldn't pose any health risks. Has anyone ever painted the inside of a return before?


    Regards,
    Chris
    Does your system have an evaporator coil in the air handler. You might want to search the site for "evaporator corrosion".

    There seems to be an epidemic of evaporator failures and one of the theories is thinner tubing along with tighter homes and VOC's in the air.

    I doubt your paint will cause a problem but you might want to give it a few days to cure.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    56
    i have painted returns before ...... no problems or compliants.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    SC
    Posts
    930
    our local builders regularly spray the insides of the ceiling returns with popcorn as they are spraying the ceilings.
    It won't hurt anymore than paint elsewhere in the house. Flat paint in the duct may collect dust at a faster rate than the rest of the ceiling because of all the airflow across it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    999
    Is it customary to install ceiling returns with the vanes pointing upward? Mine are. Can't see inside.

    Amp

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    523
    Quote Originally Posted by ampulman View Post
    Is it customary to install ceiling returns with the vanes pointing upward? Mine are. Can't see inside.

    Amp
    Typically everything is done to avoid being able to see into the return. But if its mounted on the CEILING (not on a high wall) then moving from one side to the other will let you see into the return. Or if the you have a loft or other open floor plans sometimes you cant see into the return from down stairs on a wall but you can looking down from upstairs...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    7
    Thanks for all your reply's!

    Ever since I painted the inside of the return, I've been bothered by a sweet nauseating smell that fills the condo whenever the heat kicks on. I can't say it with absolute certainty that the paint is the cause of the odor, but if it is, I was hoping that a month later the smell would have gone away.

    My wife doesn't notice it, but then again her nose if about a 3rd the size of mine.

    There's been a lot of plaster sanding going on prior to painting my whole place, is it possible that could have affected the mechanics of the furnace? I only turned the HVAC on after the place was cleaned and vacuumed.

    FYI the compressor is located outside so I'm assuming the evaporator coils are out there too.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Buffalo NY
    Posts
    3,107

    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris75 View Post
    Thanks for all your reply's!

    Ever since I painted the inside of the return, I've been bothered by a sweet nauseating smell that fills the condo whenever the heat kicks on. I can't say it with absolute certainty that the paint is the cause of the odor, but if it is, I was hoping that a month later the smell would have gone away.

    My wife doesn't notice it, but then again her nose if about a 3rd the size of mine.

    There's been a lot of plaster sanding going on prior to painting my whole place, is it possible that could have affected the mechanics of the furnace? I only turned the HVAC on after the place was cleaned and vacuumed.

    FYI the compressor is located outside so I'm assuming the evaporator coils are out there too.
    Your condenser coil is outside. Your evaporator coil is usually inside connected to your air-handler or furnace. Check your filter to see if it is dirty, or just change it. Some paint my have gotten to it. Not likely but anything is possible.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    7
    I actually replaced the filter right after my place was painted and recently inspected it and it looked okay.

    Is it possible that there's something wrong with the evaporator coil and could it be that I'm smelling ethylene glycol? It almost makes sense to me now since the smell is sweet. Is there a test that I can perform to see if the culprit is indeed the evaporator coil?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    999
    Quote Originally Posted by CynicX View Post
    Typically everything is done to avoid being able to see into the return. But if its mounted on the CEILING (not on a high wall) then moving from one side to the other will let you see into the return. Or if the you have a loft or other open floor plans sometimes you cant see into the return from down stairs on a wall but you can looking down from upstairs...
    Mr error. I said ceiling; it's on the wall near the ceiling.

    Amp

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    The Twilight Zone
    Posts
    2,964
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris75 View Post
    My wife doesn't notice it, but then again her nose if about a 3rd the size of mine.
    Hopefully that's a good thing

    Take care.

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