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How to Choose and Install a Kitchen Ventilation System

kitchen vent

The workhorse of kitchen ventilation, the vent hood whisks away cooking byproducts like grease, smoke, steam, odors, and pollutants that are released into the air during cooking. Without it, you’d breathe in those noxious fumes after every meal and the smell would linger on your walls and cabinets. Ventilation systems are a critical part of home kitchens that also help protect cooks from carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other poisonous gases that are emitted during certain types of cooking.

The most recognizable component of the system is the hood that hangs above your stovetop and houses the fan and filter. Vent hoods are available in a wide array of styles, materials, and sizes to complement your kitchen d├ęcor and match other appliances and fixtures. The fan moves the contaminated air through a duct that can either direct it outside or recirculate it in the kitchen. In a ducted system, a filter is used to remove grease and purify the air, which then exits through the vent.

Most hoods that vent outdoors have a damper in the duct that can be opened or closed to control airflow as needed. For best results, choose a duct that’s the same size or slightly larger than the vent opening and make sure it is smooth galvanized metal for better flow. Then seal joints using duct-joint mastic tape.

If you’re installing a hood in an existing house, it’s essential to consider how far the duct will travel from the stove to daylight. The longer the run, the more expensive it will be.

To keep your home energy efficient, it’s important to minimize the distance the duct runs, as well as the number of turns. For example, a 90-degree bend in the duct can significantly decrease the efficiency of the venting system.

If you don’t have existing ducting or want to save money on installation costs, opt for a hood that can recirculate the air. You can find these in a wide range of styles to suit your decor, and some come with kits that enable you to convert them to a ducted system if necessary.

If you plan to install a new hood, whether a ducted or recirculating model, check the online owner’s manual or product specifications to learn how it vents. A ducted hood that vents to the outside requires a venting kit, which typically includes an insulated duct sleeve and a damper flap. Cutting holes in the wall, ceiling, or roof and running ducting can be tricky and might be best left to professionals if you don’t have experience doing it. You’ll need to use rigid ducting that’s thicker than what’s typically sold in hardware stores. You may be able to buy it from a specialty kitchen supply store, restaurant suppliers, or some home improvement centers. Be prepared to spend $10 to $20 per linear foot of duct. You’ll also need to purchase a hood and exhaust fan, which you can usually find at appliance retailers and showrooms.