converting downdraft oven to hood?

barnold4October 15, 2013

We just bought a house with an old Jenn Air down draft range/oven. We'd like to replace it but I've seen poor reviews of down draft styles. Is it hard/expensive to convert to a hood? Thanks!

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Your question presumes too much information on the part of your audience. For example, one person's too expensive is another's too trivial to notice. Hardness of task depends on skill and time. Practicality depends on kitchen layout and house construction. Hood requirements depend on the cooking surface dimensions and cabinet layout. You may have aesthetic demands on hood appearance. Make-up air supply may come into the equation.

Although this sport is very competitive, you may be a contender for the most open-ended GW question.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 10:29AM
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Sorry...I don't know anything about appliances (didn't even know a downdraft existed) so I was hoping this forum could help.

We don't want to spend much money and are hoping to get a used oven/range. We have no experience with repairing/replacing/installing/uninstalling ovens but are willing to learn and put in the time to do it. The oven/range currently has a non-working microwave above it and some cabinets above that. There are counters and cabinets (above and below) on either side of the oven/range. Our only asthetic demand is for the controls to be at the back of the range so our son can't get to them.

I basically just want to pull the old one out and slide another one in but don't know if it's possible because our current range is not the average setup. We don't do a lot of smokey cooking or frying so maybe we can just get another downdraft thing if it's too crazy to do a hood.

Does this help?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 3:30PM
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I would just get another downdraft.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 7:31PM
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Otherwise, you would have to run a duct from the hood up through the ceiling to the roof, or out the wall if exterior. This duct might typically be located within the cabinet above the microwave, and the microwave could be replaced by a hood assembly.

What is above the ceiling in that spot may dictate what you can do, hood-wise.

Best to visit an appliance store just to look at setups so the concepts are clearer.

I am not clear myself whether a downdraft type stove can easily mate with the ducting that was used with some other downdraft type stove. Given the limited performance of the downdraft configuration, a filtered recirculating hood might not be inferior.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 7:54PM
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Someone told me I could get a microwave with a vent system in it that would just filter the air it sucks up and shoot it back into the house (to negate the need for a new duct system). Does that sound plausable?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 11:31PM
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That's called a "recirculating" system. Most "over the range" microwaves --- often referred to as "OTR" --- can be configured to vent to the exterior or recirculate. Most "wall mount" and "cabinet-mount" range hoods can be configured that way too. But recirculating systems are not effective. If you search on "gardenweb + OTR" and "gardenweb + downdraft" you will find prior disucssions and may find a lot of your questions answered plus information you didn't know you needed to know.

Does the old Jenn Air downdraft vent ducting or tubing go to the outside? If so, it is possible to re-use the tubing with a range hood. Whether that is something you want to tackle is a different question altogether. See this link for a discussion about how this could be done:

Does your stove sit against an exterior wall? If so, you may be able to have a range hood vent directly out the wall. Virtually all of them do so.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 12:52AM
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While an effective recirculating hood is theoretically possible (and large), and at least one recirculating hood has been reported here by an apartment dweller to be better than his previous no hood, it is fairly certain that a microwave oven will not provide the volume necessary to achieve any significant filtration. At best it may collect some grease on its mesh filter. If it did filter well in the available space, the flow rate would be so small that little of the effluent generated on the cooktop would be collected and processed.

Your goal is capture (requires aperture area) and containment (requires air flow rate) of all or most all of the grease and odor produced on the cooktop. Filtering is needed as a firestop and to minimize significant grease build-up in the ducting.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 11:40AM
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Thanks so much for the help guys. The Jenn Air tubing vents to the outside right behind the oven (so yes, it sits against an outside wall). I'll check out the link about how to do it but I don't want to have to put any more holes in the wall or anything like that unless I have to. I guess I would only feel I had to if the downdraft system is super inferior and won't be sufficient for us. I just wanted to be able to change to hood and somehow connect the current venting system to a new hood but I guess that's not possible? I will nix the microwave venting idea too.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 4:22PM
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If your Jen Air range is against an exterior wall, you can replace the microwave with a hood or exterior vented micro vent. Block up the old JA vent. Depending how old the JA is - some were drop (is it sitting on a cab base?) More than likely it is also over your counters, slide in style. All of these would need to known before you get a new range. Can you post a picture?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 5:55PM
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I'm not sure what a cab base is but here is a picture of what we have. I'm also not really sure what "over the counters" means but it looks like it just slid in. Underneath it's just kind of sitting on some legs on top of the tile floor and there's a duct/pump in the floor. Does that help?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 9:21AM
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I would assert (probably have done so before -- heh) that a downdraft by its very nature cannot be effective against the nature of cooktop effluent flow. You want to let the rising effluent carry itself to the collecting aperture, not try to induce the rising effuent to reverse direction, when the downdraft's air velocity over the cooktop is much less than the 3 ft/s upward velocity that the effluent can have.

Some things are good ideas when they were ideas, but don't prove out in practice. This type of downdraft was never a good idea.

I would certainly go out the wall from a hood placed in the space presently occupied by the microwave oven as suggested by eandhi. I would block the downdraft air passage and re-trim the exterior wall as required.

The only downside to this approach is that one has to find room for a microwave oven somewhere else in return for greasy vapor removal. I think the trade is a good one. And the new microwave's electronics will appreciate not being roasted.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 10:02AM
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I agree with Kas.

Also, if your town has one, you might check the Habitat for Humanity "Re-store" as they may have a decent functional vent hood which would be less expensive than buying a new hood.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Fri, Oct 18, 13 at 0:08

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 12:07AM
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