From my own experiences and observations, range hoods or vent hoods are one of the most-neglected appliances in the home. Range hoods are not just designed to be used when you burn some food and want to get the odor and smoke out of your kitchen. Range hoods serve multiple purposes – all of which are related to the indoor air quality of your home. Some of these purposes are the following:
- Remove toxins from the air. Toxins such as formaldehyde are produced when some foods, such as cooking oils, are heated.
- Remove combustion gases from the home. If you have a gas stove, then combustion by-products such as carbon monoxide are produced when your burners are on.
In order to minimize the amount of these contaminants that are in the air inside our homes, it is essential to use a range hood every time you cook. However, not just any range hood will do. With some exceptions, the International Residential Code requires homes to have a range hood that exhausts outside the home. Ventless or recirculating range hoods can filter out a small portion of the contaminants produced while cooking, such as some grease, but the large majority of these contaminants will simply be blown back into the home, so these range hoods are not nearly as effective at removing contaminants as the ducted range hoods are.
There are some kitchen arrangements that simply do not allow a ducted range hood to be installed, but if at all possible, it is highly recommended that a ducted range hood be installed. So, if you are remodeling your kitchen or building a home, insist that a ducted range hood be installed. It may cost a little more to install the duct, but in the long run it will be worth it. Not only will it help the keep the air in your home cleaner, but it will also lower your air conditioning bill as it removes much of the moisture and heat produced during cooking – thus reducing the load on your air conditioning system.
There are several factors to consider when shopping for a range hood. It is important that your range hood be at least as wide as your cooking surface as this will help it to capture more of the cooking by-products. Probably the most critical factor to consider in choosing a range hood is the amount of airflow that it produces. Airflow is usually measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). Obviously, the higher the air flow, the more contaminants the hood will be able to remove from the home. The rule of thumb is that you want at least 100 CFM for every foot of width of your cooktop. So for a standard 30-inch cooktop (2 ½ feet), you would want a range hood with an airflow of 250 CFM or higher.
Do yourself a favor. Run your range hood every time you are cooking. If you remodel your kitchen or must buy a new range hood, make sure you get a vented one. It will save you a little on you cooling bill, and it will make the air in your home healthier.
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