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I'm replacing an electric cooktop with downdraft ventilation. Does building code require that I keep this ventilation, or can it be removed?

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Because code varies by region, it's difficult to say yes or no to this.

Typically you only really need ventilation to the outside if you have a gas range. Often the hoods on top of electric cook tops just recirculate the air inside and don't actually vent outside. That being said, the often have a carbon filter which is handy for removing odors. They also usually have a light on them which is also handy for cooking.

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