How To Vent a Kitchen That Doesn’t Have a Hood or a Vent?

Are you fond of cooking? If yes, you probably enjoy receiving the praise of your meals from your loved ones. You spend a good while preparing food for them but there’s a problem. There is no range hood in the kitchen which means your house keeps smelling like whatever you cooked for at least three days. Unfortunately, a deodorizer isn’t enough to get rid of the bad smell and a range hood seems to be out of your choices. So, what other options do you have? Stick around and keep on reading to find out! 


Why You Should Ventilate Your Kitchen

Before we proceed to the main ventilation options, it’s important to let you in on some useful information regarding the benefits of ventilating the kitchen. Having proper air circulation through the kitchen is necessary for several reasons. Your cooking adventures contribute heavily to emitting pollutants, grease, and smoke in the house. If not taken care of, these factors can take a negative toll on the air quality of your home. Of course, you cannot see many of these changes, but you can smell them. It’s not normal for a house to keep smelling like fish for days after you fried some on the weekend.

The long-term effects of these pollutants sweeping your place are harmful, not just for your health but for your kitchen too. Grease and splatter building up on kitchen cabinets can lead to the growth of pests, discoloration, and deterioration of the furniture. Your stove and toaster alone play major roles in releasing nitrogen dioxide into the air. Research has shown throughout the years that proper kitchen ventilation should not be considered an option, since it’s an obligation. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily need a range hood to ventilate the kitchen. Although it can help to a great extent, you have other solutions as well. 

How to Ventilate a Kitchen

Below are some of the best ways to eliminate smell and smoke from a kitchen by ventilating it:

1. Use a Fan

Your best bet at compensating for the absence of a range hood is a fan. Having a fan in the kitchen is the simplest and cheapest method of ventilating the area. Even a small swinging fan that is positioned at the corner of the kitchen would surely get rid of smoke emitting from the stove. Your goal is to circulate air within the space. Now some might say that a fan would only pass the smell and pollutants around the house. This statement is true if you have little air circulation in the rest of your house, which brings us to our next solution.

2. Use an Exhaust Fan

An exhaust fan is capable of doing pretty much the same job as a normal fan. However, it directs the air outside instead of allowing it to linger within the house. You’ll easily find fans that have the ability to both push air out of the window or have it circulated within the place. The only drawback is that a fan doesn’t completely solve your kitchen’s ventilating problems. You’d still be left to deal with splatter and grease. Nevertheless, fans are cheap and easy to install. You’re looking at one of the best short-term alternatives of a range hood.

3. Use an Air Purifier

Air purifiers are better at purifying air than non-vented range hoods. The former purifies the air up to 95%, whereas the latter barely go above 15%. As the name suggests, portable air purifiers are ideal for cleansing air in a particular area. Having one in your kitchen will not only get rid of the rancid smells, but it would also give you a better smell in return. Air purifiers come in all shapes and sizes. Depending upon your kitchen’s size, you can choose an air purifier that can handle the chef’s home accordingly. HEPA purifiers are quite popular for this purpose.

4. Use a Splatter Guard

Splatter is the waste that emits from dishes placed on the stove while cooking. It sticks to the top of cabinets and doesn’t only make things dirtier as it sticks up there, but also gives off bad smells. Your best bet at solving this problem is going for a splatter guard. Splatter guards are like a barrier between your cooking appliances and the cabinets above them. They fit on top of fry pans and pots to stop steam and grease from making their way to the top. The best part about these guards is that they’re affordable.

5. Circulate Air in the House

If the above-stated options don’t work and you need something extra, refer to the old-school ways of letting natural air through the house. Before you begin cooking, try opening as many windows and doors in the house. Let the kitchen breathe some fresh air. Even if it’s not windy, you’ll notice that fresh air beats artificial ventilation means best. Now dust and debris can make their way into the house, but leaving the windows and doors open for even an hour would surely do wonders for your kitchen.

6. Install a range hood

Another obvious option to ventilate the kitchen is to have a range hood installed. Range hoods vary in price according to their models and abilities. Though there are several types out there in the market, we’ll stick to the traditional range hood that sticks on top of your stove. Typically, range hoods are either vented or non-vented. Both types have their own sets of pros and cons, but they both have the same purpose, which is to purify the air quality of the kitchen. 

Difference Between a Vented and a Non-vented Range Hood

Simply put, vented range hoods are connected to a duct that escorts the kitchen’s air outside. As for non-vented hoods, the air does not leave the kitchen, rather it is purified with the help of air filters. So, which one of these is better? Vented range hoods are better than non-vented ones because they direct the kitchen’s polluted air outside. Whereas the latter uses artificial means to filter the air and recirculate it in the kitchen. It’s way better to push the smoke and heat outside along with the smell rather than purifying it and having it released back into the kitchen.

Non-vented range hoods are nowhere near the level of their vented counterparts in terms of efficiency. Since they’re filtering the polluted air, you’ll still be left with a humid kitchen in the best-case scenario. If you cook regularly in big batches, going for a non-vented hood is a big no. They simply won’t be able to handle the smoke and pollution that your kitchen produces on a large scale. However, if you cook rarely and in moderation, a non-vented hood might be of help. There are a few heavy benefits they bring to the table, such as ease of installation and not needing a duct to vent.

How to Install a vent in Kitchen

Venting your kitchen is a complicated process that would best be handled by a professional. However, if you’re skilled enough in DIY projects, there’s no problem in handling the task yourself. Below is a brief procedure of how a vented range hood is installed in the kitchen:

Step 1: Decide Where the Duct Would Go

First things first, you need to figure out where the duct will pop its head out of. The most common method used for this is having it vent right outside the wall where it’s positioned. For this, you need to make sure that no obstacle sits in the way of the duct. Otherwise, you’ll obviously have to remove it to make way for the vent. Secondly, the hood must be vented outside, with no exceptions. You don’t want to vent it in another room with a window otherwise you’re just directing the polluted air to another room. 

Step 2:Make a Hole in the Wall

The next step is to make a hole in the wall. For this, it is necessary to accurately measure the hood first. Once you’ve got a precise measurement, make a small opening in the wall to see if there are any obstacles in the wall. If not, you’re good to proceed. Remove insulation if you have any installed to make way for the vent. Cut down the entire measurement with an oscillating tool and make sure you get an even view of the outside world.

Step 3:Set Up the Hood Vent’s Cap

Now that you’ve made a hole from the kitchen wall, head outside and mark the measurements for positioning the vent’s cap. Place the cap on the hole and take markings for the holes that need to be drilled. Grab the drill machine and make the cap sit with the help of some screws. Coming back to the kitchen, the next step is to install the interior damper of the hood. It sits right across the cap of the hood.

Step 4:Install Damper

Before setting up the interior damper, remove the fan’s motor from the hood to lighten the weight. Once it’s removed, attach the damper to the range hood with the help of screws then tape the surroundings to eliminate chances of air escaping. To see which way the damper fits, refer to the product’s instruction manual.  

Step 5:Put Up the Range Hood

Position the range hood in its place and mark its holes for screws. With the help of a drill machine, make holes and have the hood screwed onto the surface. Ensure the damper fits perfectly with the frame. Now reinstall the motor back into its place. For the electrical wiring, you can either connect the hood to a nearby outlet or to the wiring behind the wall (if there is any). You’ll probably need a professional electrician to handle the wiring work for you and we recommend that as well.

So, that was a brief overview of how a range hood is installed. If you’re looking to do it by yourself, it’s essential to know that there are several factors taken into account before the procedure begins. You don’t want to end up damaging the wall of your kitchen by making uneven holes that would result in costly repairs. Moreover, facing obstacles in the way of the duct is also another headache that must be taken care of by a professional. This brings us to our next question regarding range hoods and the pathway of the duct:

Can You Vent your Kitchen to the Attic?

We discussed previously how the duct must pop its head outside from the kitchen’s wall. In a case where any obstacle gets in your way, what other options do you have? To put it straight, you need to look for a short path that leads outside without any obstacles in the way. The attic is a great option for this purpose. So, if your kitchen wall isn’t fit for venting, you can vent your kitchen to the attic. A key benefit you’ll get from this is that hot air rises upwards, which means you’ll find the range hood performing better at its job. You can vent to other areas too as long as the path is clear, short, and leads outside. 

Other Ways to Cleanse Kitchen Air Quality

The following tips would be of great help if you’re looking for temporary solutions to your kitchen ventilation problems:

Clean the Kitchen Regularly

Cleaning your kitchen regularly might seem exhausting, but it does wonders for you in return. Try not to leave dishes dirty overnight. Instead, have everything cleaned up as soon as possible after a cooking session. Splatter and grease are best dealt with quick retaliation. The longer you leave the kitchen messy, the harder it will be to clean it.

Use Vinegar and Lemon

You don’t always have to invest in heavy and expensive cleaning solutions when you can make do with vinegar and lemon. Citruses, in particular, are a nightmare for rancid smells whereas vinegar’s cleaning capabilities are no secret either. Just a couple of wipes soaked in a vinegar solution around the cabinets will ensure your kitchen smells and looks fresh.

Maintain Appliances

Even if you do seek the help of electronic appliances for keeping your kitchen well-ventilated, the last thing you want is their lifetime being shortened due to poor maintenance. Whether you have an air purifier or a fan installed, give the machine some attention every once in a while. Clean the filters and wipe the blades for adequate efficiency. This will prolong the life of the appliance and save you from repairs.

Prevent the Problem 

Preventing the problem instead of solving it is way easier. Take measures to stop smoke and humidity from building up in the kitchen. Try cooking with lids on the dishes even if you’re boiling plain water. Remember, your kitchen doesn’t get filthy overnight, rather it takes time. If you keep retaliating and preventing the progress of dirt building up, your kitchen will remain neat.


A range hood is no doubt an investment with a great return. It will take care of most of the ventilation problems you face in the kitchen. However, if you cannot afford a permanent solution for the time being, refer to our hassle-free methods of keeping the kitchen fresh and clean. After all, it’s the heart of your house so it’s only fair to give it special attention.

Charles John

Experienced HVAC technician with 8 years of experience in the industry. Capable of handling all sorts of heating and cooling equipment as well as proficient in operational management, construction-related techniques such as preventative maintenance, electrical troubleshooting and AutoCAD

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