How to Install a Range Hood

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Installing a range hood doesn't always require a contractor or an electrician. Once you've picked the ideal range hood for your kitchen home improvement project, be sure to inspect its parts and read the product manual thoroughly to ensure that no extra materials beyond ductwork are needed. Some new range hoods may require a bit of assembly before the actual installation, such as attaching the damper. Reading and inspecting the materials also helps ensure that you purchase the right-size duct pieces for the job if you've selected a ducted hood.

Contact Your Building Department

Some cities require a building permit for range hood installation. This may be the case even if you're simply replacing an old kitchen range hood with a similar model. Contact your local building department or visit the portion of its website that refers to kitchen remodel projects to determine if your project is affected.

Speak to a building department representative if it seems you will need a permit so that you can ask questions. There's a chance that the permit requirement doesn't apply to your project, for instance, if you are replacing a hood with a similar plug-in unit for which no ductwork or hard wiring is required.

Ducted and Ductless Installation Requirements

When it comes to installation, a ducted range hood requires a bit more work since you'll have to deal with installing a duct as well. If your kitchen has a duct from an old range hood, you may still need to make minor modifications to ensure that the new hood's duct opening fits the old ductwork.

Electricity is required for both ducted and ductless range hoods. Some models plug into a wall outlet, while others are meant to be hard-wired into your home's electrical system. Manufacturers such as General Electric require a 120-volt, separate grounded circuit with a 15- or 20-amp breaker for their hoods. If you're replacing an old hard-wired hood with a similar model, the wiring should already be in place. Even so, make sure the old wiring meets the specifications outlined in the hood installation manual as well as current electrical codes.

Some range hood manufacturers such as Cavaliere recommend hiring an electrician or a qualified service technician to hard-wire a hood into your home's electrical power, as improper installation may not be up to code and could even cause a fire. Do not attempt the wiring project yourself unless you are qualified to do so. Even if you have moderate wiring skills, it's important to check with your local building department first to determine if you need permits to run or modify wiring within your home.

If you obtain a permit to do the electrical work yourself, a certified electrical inspector may have to approve the completed project after you've wired it, according to Clover Electric.

Choosing a Vent Hood Duct Path

Before installing a ducted range hood, plot out the best path for the ductwork. The shortest, straightest path to an exterior wall or roof is the best option, as a shorter run means better venting power and much easier installation. The more the duct twists and turns on its path to your home's exterior, the less efficiently the air will flow, plus it could be difficult to assemble with the walls in place. For an undercabinet ducted hood, some of the cabinet space must be sacrificed to run ductwork.

If the ducting requires a few turns before it vents outside, it's better to use 45-degree elbows than 90-degree elbows, as the air will flow better. If you need to use a 90-degree elbow, use as few of these as possible so the air flows properly. In any case, the ductwork should be metal with all seams sealed with foil tape or duct mastic; do not use conventional plastic duct tape. The ductwork must absolutely vent outdoors, not into an attic.

Once you've plotted the probable path for the ductwork and measured that length, check the hood installation manual for recommended duct sizes. Buying the recommended size ensures the duct fits the point where it attaches to the hood. Also make sure that your plotted path does not exceed the length recommended in the hood manual, as a duct that's too long could mean insufficient venting power.

Installing the Duct Work

With the kitchen power cut off at the breaker in case wiring is exposed or hit during the process, use a drywall saw to cut a hole in your ceiling or wall surface to fit the duct. If you are installing an undercabinet model and the unit vents through the cabinet, use a jigsaw to cut a hole large enough for the duct to fit through the bottom of the cabinet and cut another hole in the back or top of the cabinet depending on the duct path. Follow the plotted path for the ductwork and cut holes where necessary, such as through the ceiling into the attic and through the roof or an exterior wall.

Assemble and run the duct pieces through the walls, ceiling or roof, terminating them on the home's exterior with either a roof cap or wall cap. Seal the perimeter of the cap with caulking. The duct end nearest the hood should leave enough wiggle room to attach the hood.

Installing the Range Hood

While the mounting instructions vary slightly for wall-mount and undercabinet hoods, either type requires enough support to hold the hood in place. Wall-mount versions should be attached to wall studs using the hardware included with the hood. For added support, wall anchors may be used as well.

Undercabinet range hoods often attach to the bottom of a cabinet. Either type of hood may come with mounting brackets that must be installed to the back or top of the hood before permanent hood installation; check the product manual for specifics. Also, read through the manual to ensure you assemble all the hood pieces that require assembly before installation.

Mount the range hood or its bracket to the wall studs or cabinet according to the manufacturer's instructions. As you secure the hood in place, make sure the hood's wiring is accessible and in proper position to either plug it in or connect it to your home's wiring. The manual and position of the wires will indicate the best way to do this. Complete the ducting connection to the range hood unit.

A plug-in range hood can simply be plugged in to complete the installation. For a hood that requires hard-wiring, connect the hood wiring to the circuit wires following the manufacturer's wiring diagram. Once everything is connected and an electrical inspector has approved the project (where applicable), turn the power to the hood's electrical circuit back on and test the fan for proper operation.

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Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.

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