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Poor Kitchen Ventilation: Common Causes and Fixes

Posted by: Cooper MechanicalThursday, March 07, 2019

Kitchen ventilation with a hood

Kitchen Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality

A poorly ventilated kitchen is a nightmare. It gets steamy, greasy, and hot. All of the steam and oil is putting particulates in the air, but where are they going? If you're constantly feeling like there's a film over your stovetop and counters, then they are staying right where they are. Kitchen ventilation is an important component of having good indoor air quality (IAQ).

Poor indoor air quality in your kitchen means more than just a greasy backsplash and appliance. Indoor air quality is an important metric for your health and comfort. So what affects kitchen ventilation? Let's look at the two biggest causes.

Causes of Poor Kitchen Ventilation

There are two big causes of poor kitchen ventilation and air quality:

Infrequent Use of Kitchen Exhaust Fan: Believe it or not, most of us are not using the exhaust fan as much as we should be. In fact, according to a California IAQ study in 2016, only 13% of homeowners frequently use the exhaust fan when cooking. The study found that the majority of us don't turn on the fan because we either don't think it's necessary (48%), or we find it to be too noisy (21%).

In this case, the fix is easy. Turn on the exhaust fan above the stove range before you start cooking. It's important to turn it on early, and not after grease, steam, or smoke is billowing up. This fan works to circulate and/or move air to the outdoors. 

Which brings us to our second cause of poor kitchen ventilation:

Insufficient Kitchen Exhaust System: What good is a kitchen exhaust hood and fan if it doesn't work effectively? The most common issue with kitchen exhaust fans is that they don't vent to the outdoors. While this is a common home design feature, some kitchen exhaust fans simply recirculate air through a filter system in the hood above your oven, hopefully trapping particulates from the air. In this case, there may be an issue or blockage in the hood or filter leading to a poor capture efficiency.

Fix Kitchen Ventilation and Improve IAQ

The easiest way for most of us to improve kitchen ventilation is simply to use the exhaust fan more frequently. If your current exhaust fan is ineffective, use the rear burners to minimize particulates that escape the range of the hood.

Most importantly, if you are building or remodeling, consider a kitchen hood that vents to the outdoors.

Cooper Mechanical Services for Kitchen Ventilation

Cooper Mechanical Services is Myrtle Beach's ventilation expert for residential and commercial kitchens. The Cooper HVAC team offers expertise in kitchen HVAC, refrigeration, and ice machine systems. If you have a question about the ventilation in your home or workplace, call Cooper