When homeowners think of kitchen ventilation - especially those who have never built or remodeled a kitchen before - they think about the removal of smoke, steam, grease and odors. It's true that a proper ventilated kitchen mitigates those, but there is an even more important role that ventilation plays: it improves indoor air quality (IAQ).
If you aren't careful, steam, smoke, gas fumes and other toxins can slowly wreak havoc on the quality of the air in your home. They lead to pollution - just like the air pollution that we experience outdoors. In fact, according to Green Guard, indoor air is typically two-times more polluted than outdoor air, and the majority of our exposure to environmental pollutants takes place indoors. Yikes!
Things to Consider When Designing a Healthy Kitchen Ventilation System
So, see; your kitchen ventilation system goes way beyond clearing the pasta pot steam from your field of view, or protecting your walls from accumulated grease.
Here are important steps for designing a kitchen ventilation system that is effective but that also flows with your kitchen design.
Learn About Updrafts & Downdrafts
There are two different types of ventilation system: updraft and downdraft. Both are examples of "exhaust systems," where the offending odors and particulates are removed via a duct system to the exterior of the house.
- Updraft system work to suck the vapor, moisture or smoke right up and out of your house through a roof or exterior-wall mounted vent. They are mounted above the cooking area. It used to be that hoods were boxy and cumbersome. However, modern design has forced ventilation designers to become more creative and now there are lower-profile versions that pull the contaminants to the edges of the hood, rather than the center, allowing them to exist as flat or slightly curved, low-profile panels. Updraft systems are still the most popular option because they are the most effective.
- Downdraft systems are part of the cooking appliances themselves. They suck the contaminants across the cooktop, trapping them before they can rise up into the living space, and then pull them down through a duct that leads out of the home. Not only are these less visually disruptive, they are also a popular choice when homeowners install cooking appliances in a kitchen island. Do keep in mind that downdraft ventilation is not as effective as updraft systems. Also, since the blower action happens closer to the surface, gas cooktop flames can be affected a bit - as if they are pulled in a slightly sideways direction.
These systems are not as IAQ-friendly, but they are often necessary in multi-family homes or where an exhaust system isn't possible. These pull the air through a filter and then return it back to the living space. Both recirculating hoods and microwave hoods are examples of these. If IAQ is important to you, make sure you clean the vent and change the filter as per the manufacturer's recommendations or else recirculating systems become completely ineffective over time.
“These units vary in purpose, power and size. Some are designed to tackle dust and allergens, while others filter mold, humidity and pet odors. But, the one that fits a kitchen best is the air purifier equipped with permanent or washable pre-filters. These products are extremely easy to maintain and clean. If you opt for air cleaner with HEPA filtration, you will get rid of particles up to 99.97% of 0.3-micrometer debris, too,” says Fin Tatello of Freshairguide.com.
Natural Ventilation is Always Good Too
Don't forget about the benefits of natural ventilation, via a cracked or open kitchen window. This is a nice way to get some fresh air into the home, which we forget about in an era where central air conditioning is the norm. Another benefit? That same window will also provide lovely natural light.
Working with a professional kitchen design and build team is a smart way to ensure your kitchen's ventilation system is as adequate as it is aesthetically pleasing. Contact us here at Kitchen Magic to learn more about the ins-and-outs of healthy kitchen ventilation.