Kitchen Ventilation 101: The Basics
As a homeowner I never gave much thought to kitchen ventilation. I’ll admit that like most people, I thought it was noisy, and so rarely used it. But as a kitchen designer, I know the importance a beautiful vent hood plays in the kitchen. It’s necessary not only for how good it looks but also for the health and safety of you and your family. In a room where the wonderful aroma of delicious food surrounds us, there are also bad odors, grease, and steam that needs to escape.
Each home we’ve lived in over the years has had some type of kitchen ventilation. Some were efficient, and others were not. Some added to the custom design of the kitchen, and others were simply there to do a job, with no exciting design details. But we always knew that a home needs to have ventilation in the kitchen.
It wasn’t until we were relocating to a new city that I discovered every house doesn’t always have a vent hood, or a downdraft. They might have a microwave over the cook top or range. Worse yet, they might have absolutely no ventilation which leads to poor indoor air quality!
You know the saying, “once you see something you can’t un-see it?” Well, that is me! What began as a pet peeve has morphed into a mission to teach homeowners the importance of proper kitchen ventilation, how it impacts the health and safety of your kitchen, and the best type of product for your cooking needs and available space.
Wall Mounted Updraft Hood
- The cooking odors, fumes, and grease exhaust to the outside via ducting
- This type of hood requires either an external blower or an internal blower. An internal blower is directly inside your vent hood. Because it’s close to your filters and cooking space, it will pull more unwanted contaminants from your kitchen. The downside to this is that it is loud, and often the reason that most homeowners don’t like to use it.
- An external blower is a box containing the ventilator, filter and motor. Because it can be placed either on the roof or on an outside wall, it isn’t as noisy.
Telescoping Downdraft Ventilation
- Telescoping downdraft can be installed behind a cook top that is placed in an island, a peninsula, or against a wall
- Ducting is installed inside the cook top cabinet and there is usually very little room left for storage
- Ducting is then either vented through the wall, or below the kitchen, ultimately venting air outside
- The downdraft is an integral part of the cooktop
- Ducting is housed inside the base cabinet leaving very little room for storage
- It is also vented outside but through a crawl space or basement ceiling.
Under Cabinet Hood
- Mounted under a wall cabinet. The wall cabinet houses the ducting.
- Ducting either goes straight up, or has an elbow turn to go out the side of the house.
- The hood should be mounted 30″-36″ above the cooking surface
- This hood is also mounted to the bottom of a cabinet.
- There is not ducting, no ventilation to the outside. The air is simply being filtered and re-circulated into the room
- It is used primarily in apartments, town homes and condos where there is no way to vent to the outside
- A charcoal filter is used to purify the air and filter the grease
- This is not an ideal situation because most odors remain, steam still escapes into the room, and grease will scatter
Over the Cook Top Microwave
- Last resort “ventilation”
- The microwave is usually placed too close to the cooking surface. It should be no lower than 20″ above the cook top. But even then, it is too high to easily reach inside the microwave to remove a piping hot dish.
- This is also re-circulating the air and not eliminating much odor, grease or steam
- A charcoal filter is used
Island Vent Hood
- Ducting goes through the ceiling.
- Must be no lower than 30″-36″ above the cook top
- Internal and external blower options are available
The Craziest Hood and Ventilation System I’ve Seen
I have to share this, because it’s so crazy! A renovation client purchased a home that had a cook top with a downdraft. Above it was hood with a light that worked, and a wall that could house the ducting. But the previous homeowner chose to not connect the wiring so that the hood would work.
Sadly, in our search for a new home, I discovered so many houses with this same situation. A cook top with a downdraft taking up precious kitchen storage space. And a decorative wood hood that was simply there for as a light source.
The answer to making sure you have the best air quality in your kitchen is to provide adequate ventilation.
- Take into consideration the size of your cook top, and install a hood that is at least 3″ wider so that it has more area to capture the steam.
- Know how many BTU’s your cook top provides because this determines the amount of CFM’s are needed for the best ventilation
- Vent hoods can be found at many different price points. Don’t let cost determine what type of hood you buy.
- Choose your ventilation system based on your needs, your cooking patterns, and where your cook top or range will be placed in your kitchen
- Turn on the ventilation at least 5 minutes before you begin cooking to give the air in the room time to circulate.
The most important take-away is to understand that a home ventilation system, involves two related functions: removing unhealthy vapors and fumes from the home and also to introduce fresh air to replace what has been removed.
If you’re thinking about a home renovation or building a new home, please contact me, Randi@RandiDestefano.com, with any questions you might have.