We have both a range hood and an exhaust fan in our kitchen. enter image description here I'm not really sure that the range hood actually exhausts outside the house, as there's not much room (a couple inches) behind the cabinetry to run a duct upwards. As you might be able to tell, we have a rancher with gabled ceilings and no attic.

The exhaust fan in our ceiling is old, slow to start, and cranky. enter image description here

Is it worth replacing the ceiling fan with something better to help improve the airflow and reduce cooling costs? What should I replace it with?

Should I remove the range hood if it isn't properly ducted? Do I need to worry about a hood if the exhaust fan us on directly overhead?

  • Is your range electric or gas? Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 22:58
  • @ThreePhaseEel electric, but why is that relevant? Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 8:27
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    Gas ranges and recirculating hoods don't mix well at all -- a gas range relies on its hood for venting not only grease and smoke, but combustion exhaust as well. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


The picture of your range hood indicates that it was designed to vent back into the kitchen area if desired. That is what those small louvered vents on the front are for. Most such units can be either vented through ducting in the traditional method (preferred method, IMHO) or vented through the vents on the front of the unit. They are called convertible duct units. When vented back into the room, a charcoal filter is supposed to be used along with (or in lieu of, depending on brand/model) the grease trapping metal mesh filter.

If you put your hand over the vents while the unit is operating, you will know if it has been converted to vent into the room because you will feel the exhausted air blowing out. if you don't feel air blowing out it is probably ducted.

You should not just assume it is not ducted, your picture shows a significant wall area above your cabinets that could be a soffit easily large enough to contain the ducting. Often a 4" x 10" rectangular duct is used (as opposed to a round duct) to save space, so there does not need to be a whole lot of room to run the duct. Inspect the rear of the cabinet above the unit to see if there are signs that a duct runs up behind, look at the outside walls of the home (in likely places) for an external duct hood. Or you could always drop the unit down a bit and take a peek.

As for your ceiling exhaust fan, I would take it out and thoroughly clean and de-grease the blade, motor, mounting hardware, and duct. If it still makes noise and does not run correctly you can buy a replacement motor for around $30-40 and it will run like new.

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    If the unit is indeed configured to exhaust back into the kitchen, I think it would be important to keep the ceiling unit in operation. If it is properly ducted to the outside, the ceiling unit is less important. Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 17:00
  • If you can't feel any exhaust from the over-range vent and there's no obvious area in the cabinet for a duct, I'd be suspicious that it's venting humid air someplace it shouldn't. Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 18:12

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