Range Hoods Help IAQ

The Importance of a Range Hood? 

In the course of choosing appliances for your next kitchen update, don’t overlook the range hood. To say the range is the least appreciated appliance is an understatement but its role in providing a satisfying cooking experience as well as a healthy living environment are second to none. 

Kitchen ventilation products go by many names: range hood, vent hood, exhaust hood and come in different shapes and styles; undercabinet, chimney, island, inserts, etc. But for all intents and purposes, regardless of the style or type, they all provide the ventilation and lighting critical for you during your cooking experience. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it is important to look for a HVI (Home Ventilating Institute) certification label to make sure the range hood you buy meets it’s advertised performance ratings. Without it you cannot be 100% certain of the performance level. 


Range hoods provide three important functions: 

1.       Capture and removal of pollutants (moisture, grease, etc.), smoke and odors from cooking 

2.       Protection of surrounding surfaces and structures 

3.       Provide adequate task light to the cooking surface 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed cooking as one of the leading causes of poor indoor air quality in the home. Clearly the greatest, most well-known benefit of a range hood is its ability to remove smoke and odors.  But did you know it is also eliminating toxic pollutants and gallons of moisture from your kitchen. In fact, it will also cut down on the growth of bacteria, germs and mold on kitchen surfaces. Using a range hood while you are cooking, can reduce or eliminate all these irritants and promote a healthier kitchen and cooking environment. 

A lesser known benefit is the protection a range hood provides to the surrounding surfaces. Kitchens are the leading sources for fires in the home. A range hood protects the surrounding cabinets from the damaging effects of extreme heat or flare-ups. Further, operating a range hood while cooking, prevents the spread of small grease particles that will settle onto your cabinet, walls, floor and other near-by surfaces. The combination of grease, moisture and heat can create a corrosive effect that can destroy the finish on these surrounding surfaces. 

Last, but not least, is lighting. Range hoods provide an important source of cook top lighting. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends prep and cooking areas should have brighter and effective lighting so cooking can be done safely and efficiently.  

All of these are just good intentions if you don’t use the range hood. It is easy to get the greatest benefit just by following a few simple rules.  

  • Before you start to cook, turn your range hood on to the low setting. This will establish the air flow into the range hood capture area. 
  • When you begin cooking, adjust the speed of your range hood based on cooking intensity. Higher intensity = Higher speed.  Normally you can avoid the High Speed if you turn on the hood before cooking.
  • When you are finished cooking, leave the hood on for about 10 minutes. This will help eliminate pollutants that continue to emanate from the cooktop as it cools as well as those that escaped the hood during cooking.  This is especially important to help eliminate the lingering odors that exist after cooking. Just remember that a good smell during cooking can eventually become a bad odor if it’s not dealt with. 

Early on I mentioned the various types of range hoods. You may have noticed I didn’t mention an appliance called an OTR (Over the Range) microwave. There is a very good reason for this, the OTR is primarily a microwave, not a range hood. While, many OTR’s can provide ventilation, it does not provide the effective capture that a range hood is designed to achieve. As leading consumer guides will tell you, if you care about removing smoke, fumes and pollutants, the range hood is the much better choice. This is especially true if you are using higher powered gas cooking appliances. Designers will recommend putting the microwave in a more accessible location to improve safe access, and the use of a range hood for superior cook-top attributes: smoke and odor removal and good task lighting.

Now that you know the importance of having and using a range hood look for our next article “Basic Range Hood Considerations For Your Kitchen where we walk through the questions and ideas you will need to have before you begin the process of choosing an actual range hood.  There are many decisions to make, but we will make the process easier for you.

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