Your weekend breakfast routine may include having some sausage links sizzling in the frying pan or you may be surprising your family by stir-frying homemade Pad Thai for dinner in that new wok you purchased. Regardless of what you’re cooking on your range’s cooktop, you want to keep odors under control and prevent smoke from filling the kitchen. That’s why having a properly functioning range vent hood is a must. If your home’s smoke detector is going off every time you use your cooktop, the range vent hood isn’t doing its job.
In this article, we’ll address how an over the range vent hood is supposed to work and explore six reasons why the vent hood may not be venting as it should…
The basics of over the range vent hood operation
Over the range vent hoods come in dozens of models, but they all operate in a similar manner. Installed directly above a cooktop, the vent hood is designed to vent steam, grease, and food odors through a duct within the wall or ceiling to the outside of the home, or through a charcoal filter back into the kitchen. The air is circulated through the vent hood by a fan motor which is energized by voltage sent to the motor when the fan switch is actuated. Some models will have one or more motor speeds to achieve optimal venting; a slower speed to help dissipate steam resulting from boiling pasta or potatoes, and a faster speed when frying greasier foods like chicken.
Standard grease filters are used to help filter out the grease when the steam is being vented, whether the air is being drawn to the outside of the home or being recirculated back into the kitchen. If the air is being recirculated, an additional charcoal filter is required to remove odors and other particles to purify the air.
What causes an over the range vent hood not to vent?
If cooking odors are overstaying their welcome, or using your cooktop is resulting in smoke wafting through your kitchen, here are the six most likely causes:
- Air flow problem – You should first check the vent itself for any debris that may be impeding air flow. If the air vent cap on the roof or the side of the home is stuck open, it’s possible that leaves or remnants of a bird nest may have gotten into the duct, preventing the air from being properly vented.
- Damaged fan blade or blower wheel – If the venting is clear, the fan blade or blower wheel could be damaged resulting in inadequate ventilation. Check to see if the fan blade, or blower wheel, spins freely by hand, or if there is any obstruction in the blower housing. If the blade or blower wheel have trouble spinning, the component may be damaged. You will probably need to replace the blade or wheel and, possibly, the housing as well.
- Faulty fan motor switch – A faulty fan motor switch could be preventing the motor from turning on. To help determine if the switch has failed, you can use a multimeter set to the lowest setting for ohms of resistance to test the switch for electrical continuity – a continuous electrical path present in the switch. If the switch tests “negative” for continuity, you will need to replace the old component with a new one.
- Defective blower motor – If the fan motor switch tests “positive” for continuity, your next step should be to determine that the fan or blower motor is receiving power. You can do this by rotating the multimeter dial to an alternating current (AC) range just above the expected result, then contact the multimeter leads to the power input terminals on the motor after turning on the fan switch. You should use extreme caution when doing this test and avoid touching the leads or terminals with your fingers to prevent electrical shock. If you determine the fan or blower motor is receiving power, but the motor doesn’t appear to work, it’s likely the motor is defective. Replacing the motor with a new one should solve the problem.
- Dirty charcoal filter – Improper ventilation can also be caused by a dirty charcoal filter. Since this filter can’t be cleaned, you will need to replace the old filter with a new one, something that is recommended you do anyway at least once a year.
- Clogged grease filter – Similar to the charcoal filter, one or more grease filters could be clogged with grease and impeding the air flow. You can use a degreasing solution to clean these filters and warm, soapy water to rinse away the solution. This is something that should be done fairly regularly to maintain optimal venting, although after a year or two of use, it will probably be more effective to install a new grease filter or filters.
Repair Clinic has genuine OEM range vent hood parts
Whether you just want to replace the grease filters or the charcoal filter, or your troubleshooting has revealed you will need to purchase a new fan motor switch, it’s crucial you find the right parts that match your particular over the range vent hood model. This is where Repair Clinic.com can help clear the air. Repair Clinic stocks genuine OEM vent hood parts direct from manufacturers such as Arietta, Broan, Caloric, Dacor, Electrolux, GE, Haier, Hotpoint, Ikea, Kenmore, KitchenAid, Magic Chef, and many more. To find all the genuine manufacturer parts intended for your vent hood, enter the full model number of the appliance in the Repair Clinic website search bar. You can then use the “Part Category” and “Part Title” navigation filters to refine your search to identify the specific part you’re looking for.
In addition to quickly shipping you the part you need from its well-stocked warehouse, Repair Clinic puts access to a comprehensive “Repair Help” library right at your fingertips. Explore thousands of procedural and troubleshooting videos, articles, and diagrams that will guide you step-by-step through fixing your range vent hood, along with all other major home appliances, outdoor power equipment, and heating and cooling systems. Doing it yourself doesn’t mean doing it alone when you have Repair Clinic as your repair partner.