Does anyone NOT have a cooktop vent?

flaamyOctober 15, 2008

Starting a kitchen facelift, not a complete remodel. Changing to stainless appliances and tiling the backsplash. Keeping the same cabinets and countertop. I have a smoothtop glass cooktop that I plan to keep and an under cabinet non-vented hood that needs to be replaced.

The man doing my remodel came yesterday and suggested that I don't need a hood at all. Said the non vented ones don't do much any way and that I could just install lighting on the short cabinet above. Says he does it more that you realize.

Is this an idea you would consider? I actually don't use the fan much anyway. But it seems to provide a barrier between the steam and grease and the wood?

Please advise, this forum has been so much help already!

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Is this even to code?

You mention needed a barrier for the steam and grease. Why would you NOT want a fan to remove that stuff? (And then, of course the ancillary question, why would you not USE the fan to remove that stuff?)

Personally, I don't want the rest of our apartment smelling like dinner. If you can smell the steak in the living room, that means (to my logic anyway) that all those aerosoled/vaporized fat globules are in the air (that's how you smell them) and will settle on the couch, the rugs, etc. Ewwww.

All that "steam and grease" you see on your wood is getting INTO every soft surface and ONTO every hard surface. "Steam and grease" do not politely confine themselves to your backsplash. If you can smell it - in another room, coming through the door, out in the hallway - then "steam and grease" are traveling. Far.

Get a fan. A good one that can push hard enough to actually push the steam and grease to the outside of the building. And then use it.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 10:49AM
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Even though the fan is non-vented, it does have a filter that will remove grease, etc. from the air that it sucks up. I would replace it just to keep grease to a minimum, esp. if you use frypans on the stovetop and to suck heat off of the stove for high-heat cooking.

Or, if you can, put in built-in microwave that has a light and fan.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 1:43PM
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Missed the part in the original post that there is no current ducting to the outside. Sorry about that.

Re-circulating fans are better than nothing.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 1:56PM
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I had no venting at all in the kitchen that we recently demo'd. I had one contractor-candidate try to tell me that I didn't need any vent in the new kitchen either. He said "Venting is only required if you fry a lot, and frying isn't good for you, so why bother!" While he may not know it, code here requires venting for all new and renovated kitchens. I hired another contractor....

My old cooktop was a primitive electric smooth-top, too underpowered to even attempt high-heat cooking, and so poorly laid out that it was impossible to use more than two elements simultaneously. Yet, when I emptied my cupboards prior to the demo, much of the stuff in the cabs above the cooktop was greasy and dirty.

So yes, get some decent ventillation in your remodeled kitchen, unless the majority of your meals will be take-out.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 10:47PM
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I don't know...I think if you have a gas cooktop, it's important because of the heat and gas...
Last year our extractor fan died and we found out mice were getting in the vent so we closed it up...there was only once when we found we needed to open the window because of the smell and we do cook *A LOT*...
We just re-did our kitchen and to save some counterspace, we went with an over the range microwave with fan but put it to re-circulating mode with the charcoal filter. We have an induction cooktop that gives off very little heat except for what's in the pot or pan.

I find these $2k fans not necessary for us but obviously some require them. However, most of these fans that I have seen in houses are there for the look of them, not for the use.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 11:28PM
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wait a second, where's the outrage? i think that's terrible advice from your contractor.

i'm going through a lot of trouble to put in new duct for an outside ventilating hood to replace my recirculating. ventilation from oils is my primary concern. my husband is a physician and sees patients with unexplainable respiratory problems. some are short order cooks and a couple--literally, a husband and wife who ran a chinese restaurant--both have lung cancer and neither smoke!

i cook A LOT and i need a real vent. recirculating vents are not completey useless. i can tell you that mine, as weak as it is, has collected a fair amount of grease in its time. absolutely, a recirculating is better than nothing! even if you only fry an egg occasionally, for goodness sakes.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 12:21AM
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I love mine (Zephyr) but most of family members have OTR microwaves and they never even run the fan.

PS: I use my fan all the time and my backsplash is still gross with grease!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 1:31PM
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I did a lot of checking around about fans, hoods etc before remodeling my kitchen. I live in Brooklyn and contrary to popular opinion, it is not against code not to have a ventilation system in a residential kitchen. The code requirements are related to the size of the gas line that connects to your range and it is highly unlikely that a residential installation will have a large enough line to require venting. You should call your local buildings department and request the codes. They differ from state to state. Every dealer will insist you need a hood over whatever cook top you purchase.

I have high ceilings, very big windows and an open plan layout. I have a bluestar range in an island without any venting system over it. I am an adventurous cook although I must admit I rarely fry anything; I do use the broiler. I do not now nor have I ever had a ventilation system over my stove. - I have lived in my house for 30 years. I lived in 3 apartments previous to this house and never had a vent system in any of those either. My mother's kitchen was not vented. Yes, sometimes I can smell what I cooked in other rooms, but have never found that to be a problem. In fact, it is more likely that I will smell someone else's outdoor grill during the summer months or the exhaust fumes from nearby restaurants.

The decision is yours to make - think in terms of style, $$ and the size of your kitchen and check your local codes.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 8:16AM
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I have been living without a vent fan for a couple of years (our ancient, ineffective one finally croaked). I can't wait for a 'real' vent fan -- and not a non-vented one either (I will agree with your guy there--is close to not having one at all). Without a vent fan, I really don't want to cook in the summer, because the kitchen heats up so fast. Also, my small house retains all those cooking smells for much longer, and a film of grease/dust builds up much more quickly on everything. With a vent fan, you won't get any of that, or not as much. Obviously, it's your call and I have no idea what your building code is or isn't, but I would not consider living without one.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 9:32AM
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In our vacation condo there is no way to vent either above the stove or the bathrooms (with no window)!!!

I would venture the majority of those with OTR microwaves hardly ever run the fan because it is noisy and ineffective.

We had a hood over our gas cooktop when I was growing up and I remember my mother only ever turning it on when she fried bacon.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 2:29PM
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I, too, am very interested in this subject.

We are about ready to start our kitchen remodel and are down to one of 2 designs. The KD of our favorite plan assures us that a vent over the cook top is unnecessary! This is a reputable kitchen design company, not Ernie's Kitchens and Transmissions!!! ;o) (With all die respect to Ernie, of course!)

Currently I have an OTR M/W that recirculates through the charcoal filters. The new plan calls for locating a cook top in the peninsula, without any venting whatsoever.

I love the design and I just want to say, "OK!" ... but I am sooo torn!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 9:25PM
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Tiskers, ask your KD if he or she primarily eats take out. Because that's what you should be doing if you don't go with proper venting. Sorry if I sound harsh, but that's about all your kitchen will allow. You might also want to check your local building codes. Can you imagine your certificate of occupancy being withheld just as you've finally finished your renovation? Trust me, it's not a good feeling.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 9:32PM
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What climate are you in? Without kitchen venting.

Stripping down all the parts : get a motor like a p5 by Broan. Secure it in place above the cook surface. Duct it to the outside.

If you have the money for appliances you have the money for a vent.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 10:10PM
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Here is a an actual copy and paste (direct quote) from what my KD told me about venting:

QUOTE: Regarding whether or not to vent a range, I doubt that one will find anything in writing that it's something you don't need to do. But what we ask our clients is, "How often do you use your vent now?". The majority of people never use their vent from what they tell us. I know personally that my wife and I don't. You see, today's modern gas appliances do not have a pilot light that is constantly burning. They also burn any gas totally efficiently, no fumes. If one was using a commercial-style range (with it's high BTU levels) and it was located at a wall and beneath cabinetry I would highly recommend a vent. However, we have done work for clients who did not even want to vent even a commercial-style range when it was located in an island or in a peninsula where there was no cabinetry above. When I inquire of my wife about using the range vent she responds by asking me, "What's wrong? Don't you like the smell of my cooking? I am just smart enough to know the correct answer to that. You see, I am more like your husband. I'll do the clean up but not much of the cooking ... . The choice in your case whether to vent or not is ok either way with the biggest benefit being to vent odors. You'll find that steam from a boiling pot will dissipate to the surrounding rooms since the range is more in the open. In fact, steam in the winter is a good thing. Also not such a bad thing in the summer when one is running air conditioning. Both heat and air conditioning tend to dry out the air in the home to too large a degree from time to time. If you decide that you would like a vent (because your hubby burns everything he tries to cook - sorry, couldn't resist) then the option to use a Jenn-Air downdraft range is a very good one. Jenn-Air has improved their products dramatically over the past several years. Their cooking equipment is outstanding. They are the company that invented the downdraft vent years ago so they have the concept down pat. We put Jenn-Air back onto our favored appliance list about 3 years ago and have been disappointed to date. A better range such as the Jenn-Air will last you many, many years. The quality of their ovens and burners is at the top of the premium-quality national brands. UNQUOTE.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 5:50PM
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Is this an outside kitchen? If not then you really should invest in a decent hood AND USE IT. There are some really quiet one's on the market but they really do make a difference. And I'd personally stay away from downdrafts no matter what anyone says it just doesn't make sense physically. You know how much power you need to suck hot air down?

Most KD's don't cook. They design for form not function and going by what uneducated clients want is just plain stupid in my opinion. Bet that client with a commercial style range eats out every night

STW had it right on! If you don't vent all your cooking vapor gets on everything in the room NOT just under the cabinet above the cook top.

Do a test. Before you demolish your kitchen - clean it! Look at the walls. Do yu have a kitchen clock, pictures, a wall phone? Take them down and see the difference on the area of the wall that was "protected" and the rest.

We did not have a working vent in our old kitchen. I threw away the wall clock from above the stove and all the tchatchkies that sat on the shelf above the stove when we demolished they were so yucky.

If your cooktop is on an outside wall, you should definitely vent it outside otherwise a recirculating hood that IS USED is better than nothing.

So to summarize - venting is more than "just for odours". You need it to keep your air clean of grease as wel

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 11:20PM
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The range/cooktop would NOT be on an outside wall and ducting through our existing construction (our house is over 50 years old) would, according to our GC, be a nightmare. He agrees with the KD!

I am soooo confused.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 3:22PM
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If overhead vent hood is not an option, consider a telescope down draft. They work much, much better than a flat downdraft. I had a JennAir and then a Thermador with a telescope and there was no comparison, the telescope was was much better. I used the same ducting for both. Down and turn toward outside wall about 10 Ft.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 5:49PM
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tiskers - it's easier for him not to have to do it but you're the one who will live with the consequences.

Here's an option my neighbor in an 80yr old Victorian did.

They ran the ductwork (a 6" metal pipe) through the upper cabinets not through the walls and then they built a box around it so when you opened the cab doors you didn't see an ugly pipe.

If $$$ is an issue, maybe painting the pipe white or red or hey, any color, may be a good alternative - think hip restaurants and other places where the ceiling and ducts are all open and painted.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 6:18PM
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venting is sooo logical.BUT the real test is.and i observe .ask etc .how often do you turn the vent fan on?at dinner parties,family get together .basic cooking chili,spag,etc.i think turned mine on few times in the last 20 years.sure cooking is greasy but airborne grease and all kinds of cooking matter.of course there you really think it is a health concern?.i clean house regularly though.i still hag out right in front of my outside bbq.sit around campfires just doing life.who said the air is always right even for a caveman.a vent sure is nice convenience when needed.but to consider it an absolute is a little hypochondriac.i wouldn,t let the tail wag the dog just to stay inside the box.goodluck!!! either way.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 12:31AM
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you do need a vent. I hate it when contractors, realtors, whoever is either trying to sell you something or get out of work tell you that you do not need a vent. I also hate seeing pictures of 75K kitchens with some sort of island cooktop and no ventilation whatsoever.

It is really important-- best if it is vented to the outside, but even if it just recycles it, you can at least deal with some of the grease and odor-- it is much better than nothing.

Good luck with your decision-- I'm sorry you are getting confusing information. Even people in the middle of high-end renovations think they can skimp on the ventilation (or are told they can), so you are in good company.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 7:00AM
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I turn mine on every time I turn a burner on. You do not realize how much grease,smoke,dust etc. is going out into the room until you have a halogen lights on the hood shining down on the stove top and illuminating it brightly.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 10:15AM
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Good point. Light it up and it'll gross you out.

The best fans make so little noise that you enjoy having them bring fresh air in to the kitchen.

No fans means your house really has a lived-in smell of some kind. The kind that the next owner will gut and rebuild.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 12:00PM
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Lovestocook has the right idea!. Use a soffit to get you to an outside wall. Then vent out.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 7:18PM
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Has anyone used one of the pretty glass and stainless steel island venthoods? They look great! If so, how hard they are to keep clean?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 2:54PM
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The question is will you use it. I love mine but most people I know never even turn theirs on (too noisy and drafty).

So, ain't gonna do much good if it is not used.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 9:50AM
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I don't have a vent currently. I am sure planning on one for our remodel. I cook a lot and you can always tell the instant you walk into my house what has been recently cooking. Had to issue a disclaimer when we walked into my daughter's violin lesson yesterday "we just had a cooking class at out house, I'm sorry we really smell like curry." Can't wait not to have to deal with that. I had a recirculating vent in my other house and it was better than nothing IMO.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:44PM
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Here are four reasons to vent:

1) Pollution and noxious fumes (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates, combustion pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, etc.).

These exist in greater quantities if you cook with gas, but can still exist even if you don't cook with gas--particularly if you fry alot, spill, burn something, or overheat a pan with a non-stick coating.

2) Moisture. Higher moisture can lead to mold and fungus growing in places you may not realize. This can also aggravate allergies and trigger asthma attacks. Also, cockroaches prefer higher humidity environments. A non-venting recirculating fan will not reduce moisture.

3) Excess heat. Adequate venting will keep the kitchen from heating up while you cook.

4) Grease splatter. If you fry anything at all, you create a 'splatter zone' of grease. Beyond that 'splatter zone' you also create an aeresol mist of oil that floats about your home, combining with the dust in the air and sticking to whatever it can, resulting in, over time, a gooey, smelly mess. Fry a fish in a house with no vent and you'll smell that fish for days, because it's on your walls, your ceiling, your curtains, your furniture...

An adequate vent (and sadly, many are not up to this task--you need a good hood or capture zone and lots of CFM for this) will suck that aerosol mist and the splatter up into the grease trap or baffle and keep it from circulating around in your home and coating your walls and ceiling.

If you cook, leave the house, come back a few hours later and still smell dinner, you do not have adequate ventilation in your home.

Some relevant links:

Air Quality Sciences Resource Center website

CDC Carbon Monoxide FAQ website

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 5:48PM
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