Range hoods are a necessity for evacuating kitchens of the smoke and odors that can accompany cooking. Most of the time, the indoor air the hood is exhausting is replaced by air entering the house through random spaces around doors, windows, or mudsills. With some big appliances and in tightly built, energy-efficient houses, though, range hoods can be detrimental because they have no air leaks to draw from. That can lead to the danger of backdrafting, or the introducing of exhaust gases from flues and chimneys. In this article, senior editor Martin Holladay outlines various solutions that allow range hoods to function well in tightly built houses. You can bring makeup air into a tight house in three ways: through the HVAC system using dampers; through wall- or ceiling-mounted grilles; or through mechanized makeup-air solutions. Some tight homes also can benefit from the use of a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) or an energy-recovery ventilator (ERV). Perhaps the most important consideration is to size the range hood properly from the start. A small range hood is often adequate.
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