Time to Vent! | Behind the Before & After

I don’t know about you, but when I was told I needed to pick out a vent hood for over the range, I think I was the least excited I have ever been about this renovation. Vent hood. Yawn.


Now, to be honest, I’ve never had a vent hood that actually worked. When I first bought this house, the hood that was there was old and rusty. I mentioned something to my Dad, and he said “Go to Home Depot and buy a new one and I’ll put it in.” So like any good daughter, I did what my Dad said.


I picked out a basic hood and brought it home, and Dad went to install it. The short version of that story is…square peg, round hole. So like any good Dad, he duct taped it together, and that was that. Needless to say, there was never any proper suction on the thing and for 15 years it was not venting into the pipe that ran outside of my house. It was, at best, decorative.


When a vent, hood and fan are all installed and working correctly, they should remove odors, smoke, grease & other pollutants created when you cook. They should make your kitchen cooler and more comfortable. They should help keep the kitchen surfaces cleaner. So fast forward to today and now we need a vent; something functional. That was something to get excited about - it would actually vent heat and odors to outside the house, and maybe even prevent that layer of greasy build up that my husband creates when he cooks everything - from breakfast bacon to sirloin - on MAX HEAT.


I knew we didn’t have the ceiling height to get anything extravagant. We needed something that would fit in the space and that wouldn’t take my husband’s eye out while cooking. Oh, and maybe an overhead light would be nice (again, low expectations here).

Top Left: The larger vent hood & fan in our original plans, Top Right: The old duct work, exposed. Bottom Left: The redesign for a vent hood & fan under 400 CFM. Bottom Right: Brace yourselves! The model we finally chose - woohoo!!


But one of the first things my contractor asked me was “Are you getting a hood with 400 CFM or more?”


What now? Are you speaking Greek? OK, this is what I learned: CFM measures the power of the fan in a vent hood and it stands for “Cubic Feet per Minute.” CFM is how many cubic feet of air the range hood exhausts - out of your kitchen and out of your house - every minute at full speed. Simply put, the higher the CFM, the more air the hood vents. And fans over 400 CFM basically suck out too much air - so building code requires you to bring back in fresh air, to replenish the air in your room. That’s a whole thing.


And it’s all about the ducts. With a fan over 400 CFM we’d need to have enough room in our walls to support the duct work for the air out and then the air back in.


We had an on-site meeting with our contractor to determine if there was enough room in the walls for all this duct work. Our guy Walter from Fresh Start came over one morning, at the end of February, to look around and based on his visit - and knowing the age of our home - we most definitely did not have room for 2 sets of ducts. We barely had enough room for 1 smaller duct!! This meant that we had to have a fan under 400 CFM and we had to keep the duct to 8” or less in diameter so that it could fit inside our walls and cabinetry. Plus, if we kept to the original 8” ducts, we wouldn’t have to cut a brand new hole in the outside wall - which we really did not want to do.


So we talked to our appliance team at Doyon’s in Bedford, MA to help find us a range hood with a fan under 400 CFM and a duct less than 8”. We were nervous we’d have limited options, but in the end we were lucky to be able to have 3 to choose from. The dramatic conclusion! I picked the least expensive option, it fits over the range, its duct work fits inside our walls and cabinetry, and when it is properly installed our kitchen will be cleaner and more comfortable.


I'm writing these Behind the Before & After posts about our kitchen renovation because I want to share our process - including any bumps along the way - so that homebuyers and homeowners can get a look at what really happens when you take on a major renovation. Clients ask me all the time, "Should I renovate?" And my answer is - usually - this, "Renovate for you, now, and how you want to live" so I'm following my own advice and inviting you to follow along.


Read more about our kitchen renovation here! And feel free to comment or contact me with any questions you have!!


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