How to Install a Kitchen Exhaust and Vent

A small, white, plastic exhaust fan.
  • 4-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 250-750
What You'll Need
Stud finder
Drywall saw
Vent pipe
Pencil
Duct elbow (four-inch)
Foil duct tape
Flashlight or work light
Exhaust fan
Cable connector
Screws
Flex duct
Cordless drill
High speed drill bit
Wall cap
Rubber gasket
Silicone sealant
Wire nuts
What You'll Need
Stud finder
Drywall saw
Vent pipe
Pencil
Duct elbow (four-inch)
Foil duct tape
Flashlight or work light
Exhaust fan
Cable connector
Screws
Flex duct
Cordless drill
High speed drill bit
Wall cap
Rubber gasket
Silicone sealant
Wire nuts

A kitchen exhaust fan can be very useful and effective in getting rid of smoke, moist air, and unpleasant smells that are produced when using your stove top. Most newer homes are constructed with a range hood already built in over the stove, but for an older home that might not have one, or in the event that the hood does not do enough to ventilate your kitchen, you may need to know how to install an exhaust fan yourself.

Installing an exhaust fan yourself is a relatively simple job to perform and can usually be completed in a number of hours with just a little bit of know how and a few materials. This article will list the steps required and give you information about the process, cost, and why it is necessary.

When climbing in attics, which you may need to do as part of this installation project, it’s recommended that you wear a pair of coveralls to keep from getting insulation in your clothes and pores which can be harmful to you. This article will presume the use of a completely new exhaust vent. If you are using an old one, you may want to contact the maker in order to get their tips and tricks on installing the exhaust fan in your kitchen.

What is an Exhaust Fan?

An exhaust fan is a fan above your stove used to get rid of smoke and odors when you are cooking. If you are frying anything, for example, or cooking anything with a lot of grease, you will want to use your exhaust fan. This will prevent you from breathing in a ton of smoke and make it easier to see. You will also decrease the risk of setting off your smoke alarm which can be a pain to deal with. Or, even worse, your sprinkler system which would cause water to fall from the sprinklers into your home.

Turning the exhaust fan on can also prevent odors from forming when you are cooking. If you are cooking something like fish, it can prevent a fishy smell from permeating your home for days on end, which is obviously not ideal and can take a while to dissipate.

Do Kitchens Need Exhaust Fans?

Before you install an exhaust fan in your kitchen, you may be wondering if it's necessary to have one. Technically, no, you do not need to have an exhaust fan in your kitchen even though having one is obviously preferred since they keep the air quality in your home high and make cooking easier and more enjoyable.

If you do not have an exhaust fan in your kitchen, you should use a window fan instead while cooking. You could install a small window fan if you do not already have one in your home. Put it on a window near where your kitchen is located, such as above your sink. Make sure to run the small window fan on the exhaust setting when you cook to avoid smoke and odors in your kitchen from forming.

This can help improve the quality of the air and eliminate cooking odors from your home.

If you are installing a new ceiling exhaust fan, here's what you need to do.

Step 1 - Plan for Your Ceiling Exhaust Hole

First, you'll need to cut a hole in your ceiling between the joists, through which your exhaust pipe will fit. Locate an open space in the drywall using a stud finder, and mark it. A stud is avertical beam that supports the frame of your home. They are generally every 16 to 24 inches apart and are thick. They are able to hold screws and other things better than regular drywall, which is why you will need to find studs in many projects.

Once you have marked the stud on your ceiling, push the tip of your drywall saw through the ceiling far enough that you will see the tip poke through into the attic or crawlspace above. Also, if there is insulation around the saw blade, remove it at this time.

The circular saw is the easiest saw option for this step. Cut the required openings for the fan assembly and the vent hose. Neither opening has to be perfectly round for this project. The fan opening will most likely need to be square or rectangular, you can figure this out by measuring the fan or looking for dimensions on the box it comes in.

Step 2 - Deal with the Electrical Box

Mount the new electrical box inside the cabinet where the vent fan will be located. Make the required holes to pass the electrical wire/romex through. You should then insert the electrical cable in the new box.

You should now make the connections to the receptacle. The white wire goes to the silver terminal. The black wire goes to the brass or black terminal. The green or bare copper wire goes to the green screw lug.

Step 3 - Insert Your Vent Pipe

Hold your vent pipe end against the ceiling where you inserted your saw blade in the previous step. Use a pencil to draw a circle around the edge of the pipe. Take your drywall saw again and use it to cut this circle out, and then insert the vent pipe up through the hole. Be careful on this step and use protective eyewear when dealing with the saw to be safe.

It is better to go slow and be careful then to go to fast and risk an issue occuring.

Step 4 - Attach a Duct Elbow

You will now need to return to the attic or crawlspace and attach a 4 inch elbow to the exhaust port you cut previously, using foil duct tape to secure the seam. If a light isn't readily available in the attic, you may need to use a flashlight to see. It may be helpful, in this case, to have a friend or family member assist you by holding the flashlight to free up your hands when you work.

Step 5 - Attach the Vent Fan

To the fan housing unit, attach a cable connector. Then, place your new vent fan and brackets into the ceiling hole. You will need to attach the brackets to a nearby ceiling joist with screws and then feed the cable through the cable connector. You will need to secure the flex duct to the elbow you connected to the vent fan with duct tape.

Step 6 - Cut an Exhaust Hole

On an attic wall close to the vent fan you inserted into the ceiling and between exterior wall joists, select a place for your exhaust hole. You will need to use your cordless drill and a long, narrow bit to drill a hole through the wall, leaving the bit protruding into the outside space.

Next, at the outside wall, cut a hole into the exterior wall where you find the bit protruding.

Step 7 - Attach Connector Duct to the Outside Hole

Back in the attic, you must attach the connector duct to the wall cap and insert the cap through the exterior wall hole. You will then add a rubber gasket, seal the edges with silicone, screw the cap to the interior wall surface, and connect the exhaust duct end to the wall cap using foil duct tape.

Step 8 - Finish

In the kitchen, connect the necessary wiring to the kitchen exhaust fan, and attach the front grill. You're almost done. When finished, test your setup by turning the power on, and switching the fan on. If it is working correctly, you are done with setting up the kitchen exhaust fan. If it is not working correctly, you will have to do some trouble shooting to make sure it was set up correctly. Make sure all screws are in tight.

How Do I Choose an Exhaust Fan for My Kitchen?

You may be wondering how big of an exhaust fan you actually need for your kitchen. You will need 100 CFM, or cubic feet per minute, for every 10,000 BTUs, or British thermal units, on your stovetop. If your stove top is 100,000 BTU, you need at least a 2,000 CFM exhaust fan.

For electric stoves, you can instead multiply the stove width by 10 to determine the necessary exhaust fan size.

How Long Can You Run a Kitchen Exhaust Fan?

Ideally, you should not leave your kitchen exhaust fan on for more than an hour or two while you are cooking. Do not turn it on when you are not cooking.

If you leave the fan on for a longer period of time, you may exhaust the motor and have to replace it sooner than intended. In some more extreme cases, leaving the fan running for too long can actually cause a fire, which is exactly what the fan is trying to prevent.

Ventilation Fan vs. Exhaust Fan

You may be wondering if a ventilation fan and an exhaust fan are the same thing. The answer is no, they are not. They actually serve different purposes but both are useful to have in your home and will help keep it safe and the air clean.

One major difference between the two is their application/how they are used. A ventilation fan brings clean air into an enclosed space, like a bathroom, while an exhaust fan removes pollutants from an area like a kitchen.

Ventilation fans help circulate air through a room or home, preventing its inhabitants from breathing in stuffy air. This ensures that you are breathing in fresh air.

Exhaust fans, meanwhile, remove pollutants that enter the air, usually during cooking.

How Much Does it Cost to Install an Exhaust Vent in the Kitchen?

If you are buying a new range hood, you will typically spend between $500 and $1,000 depending on the make, model, and size of the range hood.

If you are installing a ductless, under-cabinet hood, it will likely cost around $700 but again, can vary based on size and appearance.

Labor to install one generally costs at least $200. If there is ductwork or wiring involved, that price can shoot up to more than $500. Of course, you will save some money doing this yourself if you feel you have the experience and know how to tackle the project on your own.

Average Range Hood Installation Time

It generally takes around two hours for a range hood to be installed. Of course, this depends on a variety of factors including number of people working on the project, size of the range hood, and if ductwork or wiring is involved.

If you are simply swapping out one range hood for another it will cost less and be a relatively simple project.

If you have never had a range hood and are installing one for the first time, however, it is a much more complicated task that will take longer and cost more to accomplish whether it is something you are doing yourself or paying a professional to do for you.

Is a Range Hood Required by Code?

You may be wondering if a range hood is required by code. The answer is a little complex. Since code varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction there is no one answer to this question. Most places in the United States of America, however, do require a range hood over an electric stove if it produces certain amounts of grease.

The amount of grease isn't always relevant in residential kitchens but is for commercial ones.

It's much safer to cook with a range hood than without one, though, so even if it is not strictly required where you are located, you should add one to your kitchen to be safe when you cook.

Conclusion

By following the above steps you will be able to install a kitchen exhaust fan in your home without spending too much time or money. Make sure you maintain the exhaust fan in your kitchen properly and repair it when necessary.