Is running vent hood ducting through cabinets OK?

wi-sailorgirlOctober 22, 2012

I apologize if this a stupid question. Like a lot of people, I'm perplexed by venting. I've searched both this forum and the web (and read the FAQs) and I'm still confused. My solution seems to be obvious, yet I've seen little mentioned of it, which leads me to believe I'm missing something.

Sometime in the next year or so (we're budgeting and making decisions now and then pulling the trigger when the special savings account and the cabinet maker are ready) we're going to do a small overhaul of our kitchen which will involve putting in new upper cabinets that go to the 8' ceiling (the rest will be refaced).

We currently have a Jenn-Air downdraft range. The range is great, but the downdraft, not so much (no surprise there, right?) I'm also not keen with the idea that when our 10-year-old range bites the dust our only choice is to replace it with another Jenn-Air (assuming they still make that model when we get to that point). Seems that now is the time to address the venting issue, which will also give us options in the future when it comes to replacing the range.

The range is on an interior wall in a two-story house. The joists do not run the correct direction to go in to the ceiling and then outside (about an 8-foot run).

My thought was to just run the ductwork through the top of the cabinets then outside and put a false front in there so you don't see the duct. Sort of like a soffit through the cabinets. Other than losing some space in the cabinets is there a drawback to this approach?

I definitely do not want a recirculating vent. If that's the only option I'd rather stick with the downdraft. Moving the range, etc. are not an option.

Here's a photo of the current kitchen so you can see the layout.

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You can probably do what you're suggesting but you will lose cabinet space. A better idea would be to go straight up and out the roof.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 12:37PM
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I had the same problem with the joists. My GC considered going sideways out the ceiling (running with the joists) to the adjoining garage, then turning and going across the ceiling of the garage. We couldn't do that because of a chimney in the way. So he went up, then back into the wall behind the range, then down into the basement, and across the basement ceiling. Is it perfect? No,it is a long path and has lots of turns. But it works OK, and it was a creative solution.

Would either of those ideas work for you? Weissman's approach would be better if you can do it. And why can't you just move the range to the outside wall? I couldn't either, but my kitchen is a lot smaller than yours.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 1:40PM
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Thanks, Ginny and Weissman.

Weissman, I'll have to check if that's an option, but I suspect it's not. Our house is really a 1.5 story and I think the area above the stove is actually open (i.e. the wall ends). Worth a look though, presuming that I don't have to open up any walls up there to do it. We just finished a massive renovation that involved taking the top off and putting on higher and I'm not willing to do anything that messes with the new walls, etc. up there.

Ginny, given what you did, I suspect we could just bring it down and link up with the existing downdraft ducting (which does go through the basement) but I was hoping to avoid going up, down and around if possible (for the best ventilation performance).

Don't be fooled by the crazy fish-eye angle of that photo ... the kitchen is really pretty small so there would be no where to put the range. Plus, we're not touching the bottom cabinets other than to reface them so messing with the layout is not in the budget. Plus, I really like the layout the way it is.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 2:11PM
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Fori is not pleased

I'd do it!

Sure, you'll lose cabinet space (that you currently don't have anyway!) but you won't have to worry about losing stuff in the back of tall cabinet shelves on that side. You will still have a little usable space in front of the duct.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 2:16PM
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I would do it. We did it in our new kitchen which, although it has 110" ceilings, has a horizonal beam which comes down about 7" so we had to run the duct below that. So our situation is pretty close to yours. Frankly, the top cabinet shelf would likely have been hard to reach anyway (for most people). If you have an 8" duct (which is fine for a 1200 cfm blower), and allow an inch to cover the duct if you want to do that, you are still looking at usable space over 7 feet high. Hard to imagine that is not enough.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 3:11PM
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Thank you for weighing in Fori and NYCbluedevil!

That's sort of what I was thinking ... I'm 5'2" so realistically I will rarely visit the top shelf of those cabinets anyway, so it's not a huge loss of practical space anyway. The main reason I want to take the cabinets up to the ceiling anyway is to create the illusion of more height and get rid of that godforsaken greasy dust catching ledge up there!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 3:20PM
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There's nothing wrong with doing it knowing that you will lose storage space in the top shelf of the cabinet. But are you really going to use that space anyway? I mean, that's pretty tall.

The alternative might be to install a false front board at the top of a 'standard' cabinet painted the same color. I think that should be less expensive than a larger custom cabinet, maybe not.

I'm assuming you're planning on going up, 90* turn to the left and out the wall? This would place the vent near the window? There may be code restrictions on this buy your GC should know.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 3:23PM
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Weedmeister ... excellent point about the vent proximity to the window situation. We ran into that when venting the exhaust fan in our new bathroom upstairs. Definitely worth checking out before I get too involved in shopping for vents.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 6:07PM
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We did ours that way, in fact we built a special curved cabinet for the duct work. We use that cabinet for smaller things, can opener, transformer for the Hunter Douglass blinds in adjacent dining room, timer, just a general "Catch all" for our smaller stuff.

After 6 years, we are still very happy it with it.
The power unit for the vent is outside and it has a very short run from the vent with just one gradual 90 degree turn, (from up to sideways and out).

Here's a picture of same.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 6:57PM
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I ran my duct across about 4-5 feet and then up into the ceiling between joists and out to the back of the house. I have custom cabinets and the cabinet maker built the cabinet with the soffit. This was my idea and they didn't charge extra to do this.

Here's a picture where it looks like I ran the cabinets to the ceiling. That's a 45 inch cabinet run.

But when you open the doors, you see the soffit. Behind the soffit, the duct runs across and turns up into the ceiling before the end of the cabinet run. The cabinet maker suggested leaving a very narrow depth shelf up top. The cabinets are 15 inches deep and the duct is 10 inch round. I told him not to bother.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 10:19PM
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Thank you so much jscout ... that's exactly what I was thinking. I'll show your pictures to my cabinet maker.

dodge59, those curved cabinets are really cool.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 12:16PM
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you could also just make either a soffit or a tall crown molding with a flat vertical piece between your cabinet top and the crown molding at the ceiling. If your upper shelf is taken by the duct anyhow that might be much cheaper than buying new upper cabs, and can look spectacular. Is that a ceiling beam on the left of the picture? Much easier to deal with that through molding than working upper cabs around it. I linked a site with some solutions (I am not related, just found it on google).

Here is a link that might be useful: some solutions

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 1:28PM
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Thanks, Scrappy. Also an excellent suggestion and one I've been tossing around in my head as well. That is a beam off to the left. The only cabinet it affects is the hutch under it so either cabinet can stay as is (plus refacing).

Excellent ideas here. Thank you all for your help.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 2:34PM
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What J did in the pic above is the 2nd alternative I was thinking of. That is, use a 'shorter' cabinet but with taller doors. It would depend on the look you are going for and the other cabinets.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 3:15PM
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I want to echo Weed's caution about being sure on code compliance when having your vent going out near that window.

Last year, when I was doing a re-routed of the vent on my range hood, the local building inspector happened by. (We are on pretty good terms so there was no compliance issue.) I asked him about the rules and got a long dissertation as he handed vent tubing up to me. The gist of it was that the rules for range hood vents are different than for those that directly vent gas appliances (say a water heater power vent). There is some discretion when it comes to venting from a range hood over a gas stove. How far the vent has to be from an opening window also varies with whether the vent is above the opening window, at window level or below window level. I was told the vent that is above an opening window can be closer than one at or below window level.

BUT, you want to be sure that, if you open the window while the hood is running, it won't be sucking in the vaporous stuff that was just blown out the vent.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 8:55PM
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