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Repair

Fixing a Loose Floor Register Cover

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How to straighten an uneven floor register

A misaligned floor register can be an unsightly detail. This article will explain what went wrong and an easy fix for most applications.

A common floor connection can consist of a duct boot (90° w/ a 4×10 register in this example – see image below), that feeds up through the floor cut-out, and is nailed or screwed to the wood floor or subfloor. An HVAC tech mainly does the install along with the rest of the heating and cooling system.

Now, if the installer doesn’t take care in aligning and sizing the floor cut-out, you end up with a duct boot that doesn’t fit nicely. With the sheet-metal being so thin, it can easily be distorted when trying to conform to an improper floor opening. Not all is lost at this point. If your finished flooring is going to consist of tile, hardwood, stone, etc. you have a chance to make some alignment adjustments with those materials by cutting them to realign the duct boot slightly.

NOTE: There are no re-do’s once the plywood cut-out is made. If a major mistake was made, then that section of flooring needs to be redone, whether using tile, hardwood, etc., so we have to resort to more realistic repairs.

Duct boot and floor cover installed

Loose Floor Register Fix

If both the 3/4″ wood flooring and finished flooring were cut incorrectly then there is another option. I don’t like what I consider to be hack fixes, but for some projects they seem the most appropriate fix and that applies here in my opinion.

The floor register itself can be bulked up to fill voids using adhesive backed weatherstripping. Any home improvement or hardware store should sell a variety of: thicknesses, widths, and lengths. I prefer the sponge rubber weatherstrip tape for its denser material that won’t compress as easily as foam, and creates a better hold for larger gaps.

There is plenty of sidewall space on the register (1.25″ – 1.375″), so opt for the widest size you can find to add more rigidity, or add two narrow strips.

  • Measure the movement from side – side and forward – backward.
  • Based off the above measurements, determine which thickness of weatherstripping best suits your needs.
  • Remove the register and measure the sidewall length you want to add the weather-stripping to.
  • Cut the weatherstripping to length, peel off the adhesive cover, and attach.
  • Replace the floor register to confirm movement is reduced or eliminated.

Adding weatherstripping to just one side or end may not completely fill the void. The weatherstripping does compress, so adding an additional piece to the opposite side may add the extra stability needed. There is a possibility that you now have a very tight fit, so for installation: place the register at an angle initially with one end or side of the register going in first, and then with a little force, push and drop the other end in.

floor_register_weatherstrip

Uneven Floor Register Fix

Following the same steps for a loose floor register, but just place a piece of weatherstripping that is 25-50% of the length, and only place on the end you push in-or-out to help align.

floor_register_weatherstrip2

NOTE: If the floor opening was cut at an angle, but not a large opening to adjust as explained; the only fix would be to remove the boot and fix the cut-out in the floor. This is a more advanced procedure that will require access to the duct boot below for removal, and possibly sheet metal work to re-align the duct assembly once the floor cut-out is fixed.

Floor Register is Difficult to Install

Reason: The cut-out of the floor was not made big enough and the sheet metal boot was distorted to fit the hole. Now the register fits too tightly and may be difficult to replace.

Fix: Using a hammer, try to pound the boot out on all edges and increase the opening size. Essentially you are trying to smash the face of the wood flooring behind the duct boot and push it back a little. We aren’t breaking the flooring, just opening the hole up some. (i) A drilling hammer with some more weight can help in projects like this, where there is little room to work and difficult to create force with a large swing. Additionally you have a large side face to hammer with as well for the narrow section of the duct boot.


Reason: A nail or screw that holds the duct boot in place, is not driven in far enough, and the register is getting hung up.

Fix: Install the screw or nail further in. (i) If the current nail fits too loosely, try a longer nail, or pound another nail in a new location. Roofing nails (7/8″ – 1 1/4″) are common use for duct boot installation. The large nail head ensures a secure attachment, without worry of pulling or ripping through the thin sheet-metal, like a small nail head can.

floor_register_fastener

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Scott Duffy

    April 26, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    I have a slightly different problem. The hole on the floor is slightly biggger than the top plate for the register, such that there is a tiny bit of exposed space on one side of the register (say 1/4″ of hole that cannot be covered by the register because it’s not big enough). My tiling contractor obviously cut the hole a bit too big. Is there anything I can do to fill the gap in an non-intrusive way?

    • Editorial Staff

      April 26, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Scott,
      Off the top of my head I’m not aware of an easy fix for such an issue. New tiles need to be cut properly and replace the unsuitable ones and make the register hole the size it needs to be. Floor vents are standardized to fit the duct boot as shown. Which means the the size of the lip is around the same size on all models. I’ve looked several times and have never seen any sort of adjustable register to compensate for installer error.

  2. Jeff Olejniczak

    January 12, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Great tip, thanks!

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Repair

Instructions for Replacing a Glass Shower Door Sweep

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Replacing a frameless shower door seal

A pivoting glass frameless shower door will have a removable and replaceable door sweep along the bottom. By maintaining this shower door seal, you’ll ensure water doesn’t leak in the areas the seal should be protecting.

You’ll only need a few basic hand tools to cut the new seals to exact length, or for a little extra cost you can buy pre-cut shower seals and need no tools at all.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1) Remove worn door seal

Frameless door seals are simply pressure fitted. There are no adhesives or mounting hardware holding them on.

  • Over time and use the sweep fin will eventually tear from the main frame and lead to leaks.
  • Mineral buildup will also create an unsightly discoloration over time as well in the seal location, which may be cleaned to a certain extent.
Worn shower door sweep with torn fins

Worn and damaged shower seal

2) Assess sweep dimensions

Measure the glass door thickness and the length needed for a replacement.

How to measure a shower door for a new sweep

Doors do vary in thickness. Measure carefully and accurately.

3) Assess sweep style to order

Based on the existing seal and dimensions calculated in the previous step; determine the proper seal to order as a replacement.

Glass shower door sweep style replacements

Make sure you have the proper seal style

TIP: Ordering extra lengths of sweeps will save on long-term shipping costs, while providing a needed inventory for future replacements and miscuts.

4) Cut new seals to length

  • A hacksaw with the proper blade (32TPI) will produce a clean-cut.
  • A ratcheting PVC tubing cutter or pruning shear  may work, but I’ve had mixed results.
  • Using a utility snip or scissors can crack the rigid PVC material and most likely yield in an uneven cut.
How to cut a shower door sweep

A basic miter box helps cut a straight edge

5) Insert new shower door seal

  • Push new sweep over glass door as original was fitted. If a drip edge is part of the sweep, face it inwards to keep water within the shower stall.
  • View full video tutorial for more information.

Shower Door Cleaning

Clean the door sweep area thoroughly before installing a new sweep. Use the same removal and replacement steps above to do a regular cleaning of the sweep and seal area. Soap scum and minerals can build up over time.

Any general purpose bathroom spray cleaner works well when combined with either a scrub brush (utility brush, tile and grout brush, etc.), or scrub pad.

For excess mineral build-up on the glass door, a glass scraper may be required.

Items to clean the area of a shower door sweep

Additional Tips

  • During very cold climates, the door can shift around and leak even if the seal is in perfect condition.
  • Point the shower head away from directly spraying the shower door and corner pivot joints as an added measure to prevent water leakage.
  • Use of a bath mat will absorb any water that may escape the shower.
  • Inspect and ensure surrounding caulk joints are faultless.
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