Kitchen exhaust hoods are there to perform the very necessary function of catching and removing cooking smoke, odors and excess moisture from the home. Exhaust hoods do their job by creating negative pressure areas around the cooking area that fumes are then drawn into and exhausted to the exterior through a duct. A proper and complete hood system includes an electric motor and fan to create the negative pressure, a sealed duct to remove air to the exterior along with on/off and fan speed
controls. Most overhead units also have built-in lighting. There are two basic designs for exhaust hoods: Updraft and downdraft. The well-known typical overhead hood is an updraft design. Downdraft units either pop up behind the cook top or pull air directly down into grates alongside the cooktop. Key to the proper functioning of the hood is the installation of the ducting. The hood duct system must be well sealed, routed to avoid sharp bends, have a backdraft damper and be continuous from the hood all the way to the termination on the exterior of the home. Keeping the hood filters clean is important in order prevent cooking grease from building up on the fan, and inside the duct system where it cannot easily be removed. Accumulated grease can become a fire hazard. A clean fan and filter also allows air to flow as designed and is less strain on the motor.
The nicer units can remove lots of air and have remotely mounted fan motors to reduce the sound levels. For pure functionality, the overhead units are preferred because hot air tends to rise up naturally and provide some assistance to the fan. Also, the overhead hoods are of a size and shape to capture most of the cooking fumes which can more easily escape from a downdraft unit. Downdraft units may not be as efficient, but they do work, and many kitchen designs have high open ceilings or other design restrictions where they are the only realistic option.
- Find your appliance’s owner’s manual and place it in a secure location for instructions on your specific appliance. If you have lost the manual or want a second copy, you can usually find them on line.
- Keep the interior and exterior of overhead hoods clean. Cooking tends to create a sticky film that dust sticks to and builds up quickly.
- Stainless steel should only be cleaned with warm sudsy water or a special cleaner made specifically for stainless steel. Always wipe the surface of stainless steel in the direction of the “grain” only with a soft completely clean cloth.
- 1x per month: Once a month, thoroughly clean the filters and body of the exhaust hood to remove and avoid the build-up of grease on the surfaces. Never use steel wool for cleaning your appliances, especially stainless steel.
- 1x per year: If possible, check the ducting (either in the attic or crawl area depending on if you have an updraft or downdraft unit) to make sure it is intact, well sealed and properly connected to the exterior.
- 4x per year: Open the box in the hood with the blower and motor and clean the fan thoroughly with degreaser to remove oil and built-up accumulations of grease.