New ventilation fan design solves kitchen air problems

New ventilation fan design solves kitchen air problems

Photo via Shutterstock

With new homes being built with less air leakage for better energy efficiency, it can be a challenge to supply makeup air for kitchen fans. Modern construction methods rightly emphasize energy efficiency, and this emphasis has resulted in homes that are all but hermetically sealed from the outdoor environment.

Air-tight construction leads to problems of its own, not the least of which is inefficient kitchen exhaust systems. The Kitchen Makeup Air System enables builders to maintain high standards while also avoiding the usual complications of air-tight home construction.

As of 2009, the International Residential Code requires home with kitchen exhausts fans that move at least 400 cubic feet per minute of air to have a compensatory makeup air system. The absence of such a system can lead to potential back-drafting of vapors from chimneys and household appliances. The buildup of fumes and particulates can impact indoor air quality and human health, even at low concentrations.

"Makeup air solutions can be as crude as a hole in an exterior wall, but obviously no builder would adopt that strategy," explains Fans Product Manager Mark Wald. "Exterior holes in the wall, which passively allows outdoor air to be drawn into the home, requires that the home be slightly depressurized to work properly.  Moreover, passive solutions lack heating elements or filtration systems."

The Kitchen Makeup Air System from Fantech addresses all of the issues presented by passive systems. The outdoor vent features a bug screen and particulate filter to ensure no outdoor contaminants enter the living space. Builders have the option of adding a heating element to the system, a necessity in colder climates.

The real marvel of the Kitchen Makeup Air System, however, is the manner in which it complements the kitchen exhaust fan. A controller switches the system on only when the kitchen fan is activated and adjusts fan speed to eliminate the risk of backdrafting. The system connects to a duct system, and fresh, temperature-modulated air can be directed to any room. Finally, a home with a Kitchen Makeup Air System is fully compliant with the IRC's requirement concerning kitchen hood exhausts and makeup air.

Read more about home ventilation.


Topics: Building Green, Kitchen, Maintenance & Repair, Ventilation


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