Most kitchens are outfitted with a stovetop fan (or a range hood or microwave fan) to reduce smoke and improve air quality in the kitchen. With wildfire smoke and other air-quality issues, some homeowners have asked whether these fans improve the air quality in the rest of the home.
Do the fans really clean the air after cooking, or do they simply disperse the airborne particles further into the home? We asked HVAC experts to weigh in, and here’s what they had to say.
Cooking produces smoke, grease, and odors and encourages high humidity that can lead to problems such as mold growth and water damage over time if not properly mitigated, says Myles Robinson, HVAC expert at Compare Boiler Quotes. Gas ranges, in particular, release a lot of extra gaseous material into the surrounding environment. Turning on a stovetop fan while cooking reduces the buildup of these cooking byproducts in the kitchen. The factor that determines how this is done is whether your stovetop fan is ductedorductless.
As the name implies, ductless fans do not connect to any additional ductwork in the home. They merely operate as fans, recirculating the air back into the kitchen. Conversely, ducted fans connect to the home’s HVAC system or a standalone duct designed to vent the air out of the house to be replaced with new, fresh air through the home’s registers. Range hoods can be either ducted or ductless, as can microwave fans. Determining the type of fan you have in your kitchen can give you an idea of whether the air is simply circulating or being vented externally.
The other thing that can affect how a stovetop fan deals with polluted air is the presence of filters. Most ductless fans that recirculate air back into your kitchen have a filter of
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