Bathroom and Kitchen Essentials: Ventilation Must-Dos and Must-Haves


When you’re designing a beautiful bathroom or kitchen, it can be hard to think about anything other than the pretty materials that you’ll choose for the countertops, the heated floors, the heavy-duty stainless steel cooking range, the lighting or the gorgeous storage spaces that you’ll put in. It’s easy to forget the things that you never see — like ventilation design.

A kitchen without adequate ventilation will send smoke and odors all over the rest of house; a bathroom without ventilation will be foggy, and worse, will ruin your home with moisture.

Of course, you can have too much of a good thing. If you make the mistake of buying a ventilation system that’s too powerful, you’ll place your home at risk of backdrafting. There is also the possibility that with overpowered ventilation, that you’ll end up allowing the effects of all the heating or air-conditioning in your home to be sucked out.

You probably understand by now how important it is to correctly gauge the kind of ventilation that you need installed in your kitchen or bathroom. While you should call in an HVAC expert, it can help to learn something of the process yourself. The better educated homeowners are, the more confident they can be of finding a competent contractor.

Get a range hood that vents outdoors

Some range hoods do not vent outdoors, at all — they simply filter the air of particulate matter and other odor-producing agents, and pump the air back in. They use a type of carbon filters. These filters need to be cleaned and replaced making this kind of extractor more tedious to use.

Buy something a little bigger than you need, but not too big

If you have a standard 60,000 BTU cooktop with a 30-inch surface, you should get a 600 CFM fan. If you have a grill, you’ll want another 200 CFM. For a ventilation system of such power, you will probably need a make-up air damper (something that makes sure that there’s enough air coming in to replace the air going out). If you don’t have such a system, you’ll find that your ventilation fan sucks air in from your furnace or clothes dryer. This situation can end up in carbon monoxide saturation indoors.

It’s usually a good idea to get a larger and more powerful ventilation unit than you need, and to then run it at low speed. You’ll get the power you want, and none of the noise.

Make sure that you aren’t shortchanged on duct size

Many contractors install ducts that are smaller than needed. The larger is the duct that leads outside, the better is the performance of your ventilation system.

Many of the same considerations apply to bathroom ventilation

Everyone loves bath products that help them keep everything there bathroom nice and dry – a heated fog-proof mirror, for instance, is always appreciated. Unfortunately, they tend to forget about the fog that settles on the ceiling, and escapes into the ceiling space.

This is exactly the problem that you will face if there isn’t enough air moving through your bathroom; you will end up dealing with mold and rot. Professionally designed ventilation for the bathroom is so important, California’s CalGreen building code specifies bathroom ventilation requirements.

The Home Ventilating Institute recommends that you get a ventilation system for your bathroom that replaces all the air in it at least eight times each hour. This means that if you have a bathroom that is 10-foot wide, 10-foot long and 10-foot tall, you need a system that can suck out 8000 cubic feet of air out every hour. For this, you will need a 130 CFM ventilation system.

Ventilation systems are easy to overlook; a little carelessness, though, can result in a lot of trouble. With a little attention paid, though, you’re free to focus on what you really want — your pretty countertops and attractive storage spaces.

Kristine Moody works in design and is a real DIY enthusiast too. She has experience of the pros and cons of makeovers and likes to share her stories online. Kristine often writes for a variety of consumer home and lifestyle websites.

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