Of the appliances installed in your kitchen, the range hood is among the least obvious and underrated. In addition to providing valuable filtering support for your stove or cooktop, range hoods are designed to exhaust combustion products (gas) and cooking odors from your living space. Without a doubt, range hoods are easily one of the most important appliances you can have in your home. Let’s first talk more about what they are and how they work.
What is a Range Hood?
In order to appreciate the benefits of a range hood, you must first understand what a range hood is and how it works. Hoods are called by many names, but the most common would be a “vent hood” or “exhaust hood.” Simply put, range hoods are an electrical fan enclosed in a metal shroud installed directly above your stove/range or cooktop. These hood systems are designed to remove combustion gasses, cooking odors, heat and steam that can develop during cooking. For most of us, the air that gets removed is released outside the home, but there are some out there that have a filtration system that will clean and recirculate the air back into the kitchen. Others have the ability to trap and remove airborne grease.
Here are some of the great benefits from having a permanently installed range hood in your kitchen.
Removing Excess Heat
Another great benefit of a range hood is the fact that it helps remove heat from your kitchen. Whether its heat coming from your cooktop or steam coming off of your food, a vent hood will help stop it from hitting you in the face and make it slightly more comfortable for you. That way, you can focus on your recipe and not the sweat on your brow. Because of the built-in feature of a fan blower, range hoods are designed to suck away the excess heat produced by stoves and heaters. As with smoke and airborne toxins, heat is removed through the vent, which helps keep your kitchen at a somewhat cooler temperature. Of course, it’s not going to cool you off like a portable air conditioner would, but it will help eliminate some of the heat that you inadvertently create as you prepare your meal.
Improves Your Property Value
In today’s real estate market, range hoods are expected to be found in every kitchen. If you don’t have one, it could actually hurt the resale value of your home. People have come to expect this luxury, and if you don’t have one, it may deter people from buying your home. Additionally, if your vent hood is in need of an upgrade, then that may also hurt the resale value of your home. If you are trying to sell your home and you don’t have a range hood in your kitchen, then you may want to ask your realtor if they know of anyone that could install one before you start showing your home.
Keeping the Air Clean
Notably, the most important benefit of a range hood is that it removes potentially toxic pollutants and gasses from the air in your kitchen. When you prepare a meal, you’ll sometimes have to deal with smoke, steam and grease. All of these can have potentially dangerous side effects if inhaled by those closest to it. With a push of a button, range hoods suck these undesirable particles out of your home and away from everyone in the kitchen. Not only does this reduce the amount of toxic air, it also helps cut down on the growth of bacteria, germs and even mold in your kitchen. However, it must be noted that the best weapon in the fight against poor indoor air quality, is to have a HEPA air purifier running nearby.
In addition to the unwanted byproducts mentioned above, vent hoods are great at cutting down the amount of carbon monoxide that may be present in your home. There are many health dangers associated with carbon monoxide, and inadequate ventilation will just exasperate the potential problems this toxic gas presents.
Better Kitchen Lighting
My favorite benefit of a range hood is the extra lighting that it provides. When I have something going on my stove, the light in my range hood helps me see what I’m doing. It also helps me see the mess that I’m making. This is beneficial for both cooking and cleaning purposes. With sufficient lighting, you’ll be able to see the food you are cooking and prevent food from burning.
With the light from a range hood, you will be able see all of the dirt and grease in crevices and hard to reach areas. Removing that gunk and grime will keep your stove-top and kitchen appliances looking newer and working as they should. On top of that, the small light bulb in my vent hood also helps me save energy. Instead of turning on all five light bulbs in my kitchen, sometimes, especially at night, I’ll just turn on the light above my stove. Why pay to use the energy of five light bulbs, when one will work just fine? I’ve been doing this for years now.
Cooking & Living in Comfort
Finally, the most enjoyable benefit from kitchen range hoods is the daily joy of cooking and living in comfort. They help create a clean, comfortable environment in your kitchen. Reducing the effects of unpleasant odors and stuffiness allows you the freedom to be creative with your cooking style. Instead of being discouraged by foul smells and an overheated home, you will be more eager to dive into your favorite recipes and sit around with your family enjoying the small pleasures in life. It’s precisely because of those little comforts, that we would recommend installing a range hood in your kitchen.
Are Range Hoods Required by Code?
Home inspectors are not code inspectors, however much of what we do revolves around making sure houses are safe, properly constructed, and functioning as intended. I was recently asked by one of my clients about the code requirement for range hoods in kitchens. As a seasoned home inspector with more than 15 years of inspecting experience, I have been asked this question by many clients and even a few of my fellow inspectors. The simple answer is NOT typically. Range hoods are not particularly addressed by contemporary building code (per 2015 International Building Code or IBC). Is it required? Probably not (California is a known exception that comes to mind). Is it a good idea? Yes! Although IBC doesn’t specifically address range hoods, the topic is addressed in another section: M1307.1 General which states:
So, what this means is the manufacturer of the range or any other kitchen appliance can require the installation and use of a range hood for proper operation of their appliance. This typically comes into play when you are talking about large commercial grade range systems that require makeup air lest they draw a vacuum on the living space and therefor possibly causing a venting issue with other gas fired appliances in the house (i.e. water heater, furnace, etc.).
Range Hood Benefits & You
There is no denying that kitchen range hoods provide many important benefits that protect your health and provide a comfortable, clean environment for cooking and living in your home. From the obvious benefits of protection from toxins and unpleasant cooking odors to the not-so-obvious benefits of a cleaner home and cooking creativity, a properly sized and installed range hood is an important asset to your home and your health. Consider these invaluable benefits of a range hood, fully research each one before and consult with your contractor before you buy. Each brand will have a slightly different warranty and installation requirements, but if you choose the right one, you’ll be cooking in style for many years to come.