Vent / Register Repair
I'm not sure if I'm posting in the right place for this, so please forgive me as this is my first post.
I recently purchased my first home (hurray!). I am quickly learning that the previous owner was a Do-It-Yourselfer but where he and I differ is that I like to make sure that what I am doing is right before I attempt something. He seemed to fly by the seat of his pants with a "If it works, it works" kind of attitude.
We have set our sights on the living room and one of the first thing that I realized was that the registers (air vents) looked about 20 years older than me. I decided that when we got around to the painting portion I was going to replace them. So here we are, last night, I pull out my handy screw driver to take them off so I can bring them up to my hardware store to ask questions when low and behold, the vents are actually secured to the walls with... wait for it... 3/4 inch thick of CAULK. The previous owner had never checked to make sure they were the right size, filled in the gaps with the caulk and called it a day. So cursing his inability to do anything right, 45 painful minutes later I had the registers off.
So, now I have my vents off, I measure the holes and head up to the hardware store to buy new ones. I like them, they're shiney and new and aren't covered by 19 layers of multicolored paint. I bring them home and attempt to fit them in but oops, they don't fit. But wait, I measure the holes before I bought them, I double checked them and I found the problem. While I had purchased the right size the vent holes were bent! Inspecting a little further I see the real problem.
Once again, the previous owners worksmanship shows its ugly head. The metal vents are surrounded by... putty, simply patch putty... and they have been bent. There is so much putty surrounding these bent vents that the registers that I purchased that should fit don't. The registers aren't far off, we're talking about a few millimeters of difference.
My question, how do I fix these vents so that my registers fit? Should I gouge out all the terrible that the previous owner slapped on there, attempt to work the vents back into their appriopriate shape, and then slap some sort of patch around them to fill in the gunk I just had to dig out, or would that ultimately be exactly what the last guy did?
Any suggestions / guidence would be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind I'm a first time home buyer and money is a little tight, so while the right thing to do might be to hire a company to come in a fix my entire vent work, that simply isn't going to happen...
Once again, any advice is greatly appreciated.