Your new range hood is an important part of the kitchen, and an expensive investment. Let’s make sure it looks and works its best, by avoiding the mistakes listed in this article. (There’s also a bullet-point summary on the bottom).
Phase 1 – Receiving & Inspection
It’s a good idea to inspect your new range hood (as well as other appliances and home electronics) as soon as you receive the shipment. This way, if there’s a problem (shipping damage, missing parts, etc), it can be resolved within the appliance seller’s and the shipping carrier’s timeframes. Also, not waiting till the last moment will avoid problems with waiting for a replacement, which can mess up your renovation timeframe.
Even though every Futuro Futuro range hood is individually inspected prior to shipping, and is specially packaged to withstand the rigors of shipping systems, shipping damage does happen once in a while. Letting us know about it as soon as possible lets us take care of the problem as soon as possible.
Before installation, it’s a good idea to plug in the range hood and check its function. That seems like a common-sense thing, but in the flurry of activity surrounding a kitchen upgrade, it’s easy to forget it. All Futuro Futuro range hoods are equipped with a US/Canada standard 3-pin 110-volt plug, so all you need is a spare outlet or an extension cable. Simply plug in the hood, and check the function of the blower and lights. This way, you’ll know it’s 100% operational, and if your installer makes a mistake, you’ll know exactly what to troubleshoot.
During inspection, you may notice that some parts of the hood (such as the vertical chimney) look like they’re painted white, instead of stainless steel. This is a protective plastic film that’s designed to reduce the chance of scratches during installation. Don’t remove this film until installation is complete.
Phase 2 – Planning For Installation
Ducted or Ductless?
Range hoods can be installed in 2 configurations: ducted (“vented”) or ductless (“ventless” or “recirculating”). In a ducted installation, a duct carries the air from the range hood to the outside of the house; in a ductless installation, the air is scrubbed by an additional set of charcoal filters, and then returned to the kitchen.
Whenever possible, it’s recommended to connect a range hood to an outside duct. Not only will this result in better performance compared to ductless installations, but also lower noise.
You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the duct size and type when installing a range hood. Connecting a range hood to a smaller duct than specified will lead to loss of performance, and may even cause overheating problems leading to mechanical failure.
Almost all high-performance range hoods require the use of rigid ducting. The reason is simple: flexible ducting has ridged walls, which create turbulence. Instead of a smooth stream, the airflow is randomized, causing loss of performance and additional noise. Conversely, a rigid duct has smooth walls which help to keep the airflow laminar, which is especially important for range hoods that extract more than 200-300 cubic feet per minute.
Flexible ducting is also susceptible to cracking and rupture, which could cost hundreds of dollars to locate and repair. Rigid ducting may be slightly more expensive and a little harder to install, but it’s the right way to go. (Also, many local building codes require the use of rigid ducting for kitchen ventilation).
In a ducted installation, charcoal filters should not be used.
Ducted Installation – Outside Discharge
One of the most serious mistakes in range hood installation is terminating the duct in an enclosed space, e. g. the attic.
This will cause the range hood to operate improperly (if it operates at all), due to the back-pressure from the enclosed space. No matter how big the space is, air won’t be compressed – range hoods are high-airflow devices, not high-pressure.
In addition, venting warm moist air from the kitchen into attic space is a recipe for a major mold growth problem.
If the range hood doesn’t suction air after installation, or you actually feel air blowing out from the filter surface – definitely check the ductwork.
Ducted Installation – Duct Caps / Roof Caps
An outside duct that exits through a side wall should end with a duct cap, while roof-mounted ducts are sometimes terminated with a “U” shaped elbow, allowing the air to exit while keeping out the rain and snow.
Make sure the cap is the same size/diameter as the duct – using a smaller cap will cause problems with airflow and static pressure. Some installers think it’s OK to terminate a 6-inch duct with a 4-inch cap… but it’s not OK. Not even close.
Regardless of the type of termination, it’s important to have a damper (also called “backdraft” or “airflow controller”) at the end of the duct. The damper keeps outside air from back-flowing into the duct, as well as keeping out unpleasant surprises in the form of birds, insects, and squirrels.
It’s a good idea to check the condition of the duct cap at least once every couple of years – make sure it’s not clogged, and the louvers and/or backdraft operate freely and smoothly.
Ductless (Recirculating) Installation
Although it’s always recommended to connect the range hood to an outside duct, there are situations where this is simply impossible. Many high-rise condominiums and co-operative buildings prohibit any modifications that pierce the outside walls of the building. Ultra-modern condos with concrete ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows also exclude the possibility of an outside duct.
The solution is installing the range hood in “ductless”, also called “recirculating” mode. In this situation, in addition to the metal filters that absorb the grease droplets, the hood uses charcoal filters (aka “carbon filters”) to absorb odors. After the air has been de-greased and de-odorized, it’s released back into the room.
If you intend to install your range hood in ductless mode, you would also need to:
- Order charcoal filters (sold separately)
- Make sure the charcoal filter is installed in the hood
- Change the filter every 6 months
One of the most important things to keep in mind with ductless hoods, is that the charcoal filter should be changed regularly. Eventually, it becomes clogged with grease and odor particles, and will restrict airflow, which could cause the blower motor to overheat and fail prematurely. If you can’t replace the charcoal filter, it’s actually better to remove the it, than to operate the range hood with a clogged filter.
Replacement filters are available on our website, in the “Range Hood Accessories” category. Note that there are several types of carbon filters – please confirm which type your range hood model uses, prior to purchasing.
The 2 most important considerations for the power connection to the range hood are: don’t cut the plug, and make sure the hood is connected to a dedicated line.
Don’t Cut The Plug
One of the most common problems with appliance installation is the electrical connection. The rule-of-thumb (and the UL regulation, BTW) is simple: if an appliance comes with exposed wires, it must be hardwired; if it comes with a plug, it must be plugged in. Following this rule will avoid problems with manufacturer’s warranty, as well as potential issues with inspection. All Futuro Futuro range hoods are equipped with a power cord that has a US/Canada standard, 3-pin grounded, 110-volt plug.
Some installers like to save a few minutes (versus installing an outlet) and cut the plug & splice it directly into the electrical line instead. Don’t let them do this! Not only is hardwiring a bad idea from the viewpoint of regulations and inspection, but if there’s a need to service the range hood, the technician must be able to disconnect the hood and plug in the diagnostic equipment. If the hood is hardwired, only a licensed electrician is allowed to modify the wiring. Avoid this problem by making sure the plug is not cut and the hood is plugged into an outlet.
Don’t Share The Line
Another good rule to follow is connecting each major appliance – including the range hood – to its own separate (dedicated) electrical line. It’s not a question of amperage (or “load”) on each wire, but rather ensuring that each appliance does not interfere with the others by causing voltage drops or introducing electrical noise into the line.
Devices like gas stove ignitors, refrigerator compressors, and microwave magnetrons, can place a momentary but significant load on the circuit. Mixing and matching different devices on the same line is never a good idea, but especially so when one of the devices is equipped with sensitive electronics or lighting transformers.
Please make sure there’s a dedicated line available for the range hood, that’s not shared with any other appliances, or dimmable lights. This will not only ensure longer service life, but makes troubleshooting and isolating potential problems a lot easier.
Phase 3 – Location & Support
There are several factors that affect how high a range hood should be installed above the cooking surface. First and foremost, check out the range hood manufacturer’s recommendations. Typical range hoods are installed in the 26-to-30 inch range above the cooktop, although this may vary from a low of 18 to a high of 36 inches.
For best performance, Futuro Futuro recommends installing our range hoods at 26 to 28 inches above the cooktop. Since the air polluted from cooking doesn’t rise in a perfectly straight line, but spreads out rather aggressively, it’s a good idea to position the range hood low enough to give it a good chance to capture the smoke/steam.
Also, it’s recommended to position the range hood at a height where the lights will be below eye level, which also keeps the control panel within easy reach and makes cleaning easier.
One of the most dangerous problems with range hood installation is attaching the unit to sheet-rock alone. Regardless of the weight, any range hood should be attached to structural beams or joists, in order to provide proper long-term support. If there is no beam/joist at the intended range hood location, a cross-brace made from 2×4’s, 3/4-inch plywood, or other strong material, is an acceptable substitute.
If a range hood is attached to sheetrock, it may initially appear to be stable, but over time, as it’s being used, the sheetrock anchors will loosen. Make sure your installer attaches the range hood the right way from the start.
Wall-Mount Hoods – Additional Considerations
Range hoods should always be installed over a backsplash. Don’t cut or frame a hood into a backsplash, for several reasons:
- It’s a hassle to cut the stone or tiles around the hood, especially if curved or unusual shape.
- Visible grout lines never look good.
- If maintenance or service is needed in the future, the hood will have to be cut out from the grout before the technical can perform service.
- Higher risk of damage (dents or scratches) to the range hood.
There should be a space between cabinet walls and the range hood. Some architects and designers provide only enough space between the cabinets to accommodate the exact width of the hood. This is a bad idea for several reasons:
- Lack of space makes installation more difficult.
- Any miscalculation may result in the hood not fitting into the space at all.
- If cabinets expand or shift over time, they may crush the hood, causing stainless steel to bulge, or in case of hoods equipped with a glass panel, the glass may crack.
- The confined crevices will accumulate dirt & grease, and make cleaning more difficult.
To avoid all these issues, leave a space of at least 1/2 inch between the edge of the wall-mount range hood and the cabinetry.
Phase 4 – Installation Process
The vertical chimney of Futuro Futuro range hoods is covered with a protective plastic film, to avoid scratches during installation. This film should not be removed until the installation process is complete – please make sure your installer is aware of this.
On some models, the grease filters may also feature a protective film (usually translucent blue). This film should be removed prior to using the hood.
Models that feature extensive glass elements, such as the Skylight, Luxor, Acqualina, Quest, Wave, and others, should NOT be lifted by the glass during installation. This may seem like common sense, but once in a while, installers think it’s a good idea to lift a 100-pound appliance by a decorative glass panel.
After installation, dirt & fingerprints can be easily removed by spraying some WD-40 or other non-abrasive cleaner onto a paper towel, and wiping the stainless steel surfaces. Do not use stainless steel polishes (for example, Barkeeper’s Friend), since they may scratch or discolor the surface.
So, in summary:
- As soon as the shipment arrives – inspect it.
- Before installation – plug it in & make sure it works.
- Protective film: don’t take off film until after installation.
- If ducted – duct should be rigid, 6-inch round, with matching caps/outside vents.
- If ductless – charcoal filters should be changed every 6 months.
- Electrical: don’t cut the power plug, and make sure the hood is on a separate circuit.
- Support: don’t attach to sheetrock alone; only to beams, joists, plywood.
- Wall-mount hoods: install hood OVER backsplash, not IN it. Leave space between hood and cabinets.
- Don’t use abrasive cleaners; we recommend WD-40 for the steel, Windex for glass.