Recently, I was reading about a real estate transaction that dealt with a potential buyer who wanted the seller to install a vent over their electric kitchen cooktop. It seemed hilarious to me, since I grew up with an electric oven and never had to deal with an additional vent. Times have changed, though, and people are more cautious. But, is this really that big a deal?
Most residential building codes won’t require a vent over an electric cooktop but they do strongly encourage one. Electric cooktops have the lowest levels of heat and do not use gas, so it’s not mandatory in all parts of the country. This means that a vent, while appreciated, isn’t always necessary because the potential for smoke and gas will be less.
If you’re worried about your ventilation or just nervous about your building code, then you came to the right website. It’s time to get a little light shed on the subject.
Table of Contents
- Should You Get A Vent For An Electric Cooktop?
- How Much Ventilation Does An Electric Cooktop Need?
- Where Can You Find Your Local Building Code Laws Regarding Kitchen Vents?
- What Is Ventilation Defined By?
- Do You Need A Hood Vent With An Exhaust On A Kitchen Island Cooktop?
- Do High Rise Buildings Need A Ventilation System?
- Related Questions
- Can you hook a bathroom vent to a kitchen vent?
- Can I connect my kitchen vent to a dryer vent?
- How often should I clean my kitchen’s ventilation system?
- What happens if my house isn’t properly ventilated while I cook?
Should You Get A Vent For An Electric Cooktop?
Though kitchen vents will always be a welcome addition to any cooktop setup, you don’t usually need to get a vent system for your electric cooktop. Vents are generally required for cooktops that use gas, as well as any room that doesn’t have a window. However, the topic of ventilation is one that has a lot of legal grey area.
Each state has its own minimum ventilation requirements when it comes to cooktops. Some will require ventilation on the edges of a kitchen, others may skip kitchen islands, while some might not require an electric cooktop to have a form of ventilation at all. Here’s what you need to know:
- Ventilation isn’t always just a safety issue. Though vents are used to carry out smoke, grease, and (if you have a gas cooktop) gas out of your kitchen, ventilation isn’t just a safety issue. It also makes your kitchen easier to clean and reduces the odor in your home.
- Including a vent for your electric stove also cuts down on grease buildup in your home. Did you ever go to a house that hadn’t been cleaned well, only to notice that there’s a thick coat of slime on everything? Chances are that is from buildup from cooking sessions in the kitchen, paired with a lack of good ventilation. It’s called aerosolized grease.
- Adding a vent will add value to your kitchen. This is just a good rule of thumb to follow. No one will turn down a kitchen that has extra ventilation.
- Every city has its own ventilation codes. Some cities will require vents for electric cooktops, others won’t. Still more may say that a window will qualify as ventilation if you have an electric range.
- The type of ventilation that you choose will also make a difference. There’s a difference between leaving a window open and actually having a pop-up vent. If you can’t have a hood vent or a fan attachment, you can use a downdraft. The type of vent you choose should work with your building’s architecture.
How Much Ventilation Does An Electric Cooktop Need?
Most ventilation requirements are determined by the BTU of a gas range, or the power of the electric range that’s being used. To fully ventilate a typical electric cooktop, you will need to be able to get around 400 cubic feet per minute of air movement. This sounds like a lot, but in reality, it’s really not that bad. This level of ventilation can be achieved with a very rudimentary system.
Where Can You Find Your Local Building Code Laws Regarding Kitchen Vents?
Kitchen ventilation systems are not going to be a town-only type of deal when it comes to building codes. Many states, such as California, have sweeping statewide laws that require a minimum ventilation speed in every household. Towns and cities also can host their own building code laws that go beyond the state minimums.
To make sure that your building is up to code, it’s best to look at both state and municipal building regulations before you plan out your kitchen.
What Is Ventilation Defined By?
This varies from town to town, as well as what state codes would suggest. In most parts of the country, just opening a window is enough to be considered proper ventilation. In the state of California, you need to have a kitchen that has a minimum ventilation speed of 100 cubic feet per minute–and that’s not taking BTU minimums into account.
The only way to figure out what level of venting you’ll need in order to be considered “properly ventilated” is to look at your local building code laws.
Do You Need A Hood Vent With An Exhaust On A Kitchen Island Cooktop?
In most parts of the country, a hood vent over a kitchen island cooktop is not deemed to be a necessary addition. Even in stricter states like California, having a large vent over a kitchen island is considered to be extra, especially if you already have a vent elsewhere in the room. With that said, it still boils down to local requirements.
Do High Rise Buildings Need A Ventilation System?
Traditional ceiling vents don’t usually work in high rise buildings, especially when you’re dealing with gas. However, high rise buildings absolutely need to have ventilation systems simply because of the concern of fire and fumes. So, there will be a need for a ventilation system, but it won’t be the usual ceiling exhaust you see in smaller homes and apartments.
With a high rise apartment, the most common requirement for an exhaust vent would be to have a downdraft cooktop installed. This sucks the excess grease, smoke, and fumes from your cooking down into the floor, where it will be funneled into a larger exhaust elsewhere.
Can you hook a bathroom vent to a kitchen vent?
No! Bathroom vent ducts are not built to handle the rigors of grease, smoke, and CO. Trying to use a bathroom vent extension as a path for your kitchen vent can harm your duct system, turn your home into an unsanitary mess, and at times, even contaminate your food. You do not want a bathroom vent as your kitchen vent!
Can I connect my kitchen vent to a dryer vent?
At first, this may sound like a good idea. Unfortunately, it’s not. Dryer vents are known for gaining large quantities of lint and dust. Kitchen vents are known for being ducts of grease and smoke. Together, they will make clogs–or worse, black mold. If you can avoid it, don’t do it. (And you should always be able to avoid this!)
How often should I clean my kitchen’s ventilation system?
With regular use, you should be able to maintain a clean system by clearing out your vents once every three months. If you use your kitchen on a commercial level, weekly (if not daily) vent cleanings might be more advisable.
What happens if my house isn’t properly ventilated while I cook?
The smell of cooking might be appealing, but it can cause a decline in the air quality of your home. Among sensitive people, this can cause asthma. If left unchecked, it can also pose a risk for CO poisoning.