Kitchen Ventilation System
In the preparation of this paper, a number of books on kitchen design were reviewed. Most of the authors discussed kitchen ventilation, but only briefly and with limited technical information. The emphasis was often on the choice between updraft and downdraft, the size of the fan, and the aesthetics of the hood. Viewing ventilation as a system, and including issues of pollutants removed, installation, duct work, and replacement air, was often omitted, especially in consumer oriented books. These topics are important and need to be included in discussions of kitchen ventilation. This is particularly important as the design of the total system can make a difference in the noise of the ventilation system, and noise was a barrier to use for many participants in this study. Clearly, complete information on kitchen ventilation systems and their use is needed in forms accessible to consumers.
Kitchen Ventilation System
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Kitchen Ventilation System
Educational opportunities. The findings of this study clearly present educational opportunities for family and consumer scientists. Mechanical kitchen ventilation systems need to be seen as a way to help control excess moisture in the home and minimize the potential for mold problems. This is not only an indoor air quality issue but a health issue. Educational programs on moisture control in the home, mold, home heating and cooling, asthma, indoor air quality, and healthy homes are examples of opportunities to specifically discuss kitchen ventilation systems. Kitchen design and appliance selection programs should put greater emphasis on selection of ventilation systems. Further, the topic of kitchen ventilation systems should be integrated into foods classes. Using ventilation is a necessary adjunct to cooking.
The participants in this study were frequent microwave oven users. In fact, the dominance of the microwave oven as a primary cooking appliance was one of the major findings of the comprehensive study. None of the participants identified specifically using a ventilation system when cooking in the microwave oven. The need for a ventilation system when microwave cooking may be perceived as similar to that of the regular oven, and not a cook top. Ventilation during oven cooking was less common. Therefore, the frequency of microwave cooking may help to explain less frequent use of kitchen ventilation systems. However, both a microwave oven and a regular oven do typically vent into the kitchen and thus introduce moisture and odors into the living space.
A sizable minority of the sample did not use their ventilation systems with any regular frequency, especially when using the oven. Noise, as the reason to avoid using the ventilation system, is not a surprising finding. Noise might explain a reluctance to use a ventilation system, especially in a busy family kitchen. However, half the sample did not even think ventilation was needed.
Indoor air and human health are major housing issues. Biological pollutants, such as molds, are health threats. These pollutants require a moist environment. Regular use of kitchen exhaust ventilation systems can help control excess moisture in the home. As part of a comprehensive study of kitchen design and usage, 78 households in a purposive sample were interviewed about their use of kitchen ventilation systems. Despite the fact that participants regularly and frequently cooked, about one-third rarely ventilated when using the cook top and almost half never ventilated when using the oven. Results of the study suggest that cooks who do use ventilation systems use them to solve cooking problems and not to prevent indoor air quality problems, like those that result from not controlling moisture. Consumers need to better understand the value of kitchen ventilation systems, and how to use them effectively to improve indoor air quality.
Participants gave various reasons for using their kitchen ventilation systems specifically with cook top cooking, typically to solve problems with odor, smoke, and steam (Table 5). Kitchen ventilation was less common when only the oven was being used. When using the oven, 46 percent never used ventilation, while 28 percent only used ventilation for oily/greasy foods and 17 percent for smelly foods.
Kitchen ventilation systems are usually located over the cook top, considered the primary source of odors, grease, and moisture. An oven in a range typically vents through a burner on the cook top, putting moisture and odors in the vicinity of the ventilation system. A built-in or wall oven typically vents to the front of the appliance, into the room air. A microwave oven, which may vent to the front, side, or back, is usually not placed near the kitchen ventilation system.
In summary, a kitchen ventilation system needs to be carefully designed to provide good control of moisture, heat, grease, odors, and other byproducts of cooking. Many American kitchens are equipped with some sort of mechanical ventilation system. However, ventilation systems are only as effective as their frequency of use.
Kitchen ventilation systems, while being used by some cooks to “clear up” cooking problems, are not being selected and used to their full potential to help prevent indoor air quality problems in the home. Despite the common recommendation by indoor air quality experts to use kitchen exhaust systems (vented to the outside) to help control moisture, equipment is not being fully utilized. There is a message to manufacturers to continue to find ways to make exhaust ventilation systems easier and quieter to use. There is a message to family and consumer sciences professionals and educators to help consumers better understand the effective use of kitchen ventilation systems.
The data were analyzed using cross-tabulation and chi-square to determine if there were unique patterns of ventilation system usage. However, there were no differences between electric or gas ranges, different types of ventilation systems, reasons for using ventilation, or age of participants.
Canopy or updraft ventilation systems can be a recirculating system or an exhaust system. Downdraft ventilation systems are all exhaust systems. A recirculating system pulls the air through a filter then returns the air to the room. The filter may be a simple grease filter screen or include a carbon type filter to remove odors. Moisture and heat are not removed. Combustion pollutants from gas cooking, including carbon monoxide and water vapor, may not be removed. Recirculating systems are less expensive and easier to install, but less effective. Exhaust systems, on the other hand, remove air as well as heat, moisture, odors, and grease from the kitchen to the outside.
Kitchen Exhaust Products Kitchen Exhaust Kits Pre-configured components for kitchen ventilation Kitchen Exhaust Fans Fans rated for use in residential kitchens. Inline Fans Metal Housing Inline fans with metal housings. Metal housing is a requirement for any type of kitchen ventilation. Range Hood Liners Hood liners contain fan controls and grease filters. They are designed to be covered by a decorative surround. Silencers and Backdraft Dampers Inline silencers for noise reduction. Backdraft dampers to prevent air infiltration. Discharge Caps – Wall Wall mounted hoods and louvered vents. Available in plastic, galvanized steel, stainless steel and copper. Discharge Caps – Roof Roof mounted caps and vents. Available in plastic, galvanized steel, stainless steel and copper. Duct and Duct Accessories Duct and duct fittings to build exhaust air systems. Ductwork, clamps, y-fittings, reducers, tape, etc. Air Inlets & Fresh Air Kits Through the wall make-up air inlets and fresh air inlet kits. Inlets available in round, rectangular, self-regulating, adjustable, and filtering models. Exhaust Fan Controls Electronic timers, humidity switches, and fan speed controls.
Mechanical ventilation systems in kitchens are often not required by building codes (Kimball 1998; Manclark 1999). For example, a New York study found that only 67 percent of homes surveyed had kitchen exhaust fans (NYSERDA 1998). Although a window may be adequate to meet code requirements, most kitchen designers, as well as indoor air quality experts believe that a mechanical ventilation system is necessary in the kitchen.
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