Q. My kitchen has an old noisy range hood and it looks old-fashioned. I would like one that has several speeds and is easy to clean. What are my options, and which of the styles are most effective?
A. The newest range hoods are quieter, more effective and convenient to use. With today's more energy-efficient, airtight homes, it is important to exhaust cooking fumes, grease, odors, etc. for good indoor air quality. These can quickly build up in a kitchen without adequate ventilation.
Many newer range hoods also can be attractive additions to a kitchen.
They are decorative with contemporary contours, metal or painted finishes, glass covers, lights, etc. Believe it or not, some fancy ones cost as much as $15,000, but you can still find decorative, effective ones from $100 to $200.
On the other end of the style spectrum are ones that are hidden when not in use. They either pop up from behind the range or fold back into cabinets above the range.
The key to effective and quiet operation of a range hood is exhausting just the right amount of air. An airflow of just 50 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per lineal foot of the range top is usually adequate. With a new quiet range hood, you can easily talk on the telephone near one that is running.
Choose a model with several fan speeds for more flexibility and control of the noise level and indoor air quality. When you are just boiling water or doing other light cooking, the maximum exhaust air flow is not required. On low speed, the fan noise level is about one-tenth as when on high speed.
A three-speed fan is usually adequate, but some expensive models offer variable speeds. A nice feature to consider is an extra super-high boost speed. It is noisier at this speed level, but it comes in handy if you burn something on the stove or the food aromas get too strong.
There are also important differences in the fan design. Squirrel-cage types of blowers are usually quieter and more powerful than simple, lower-cost fan blades. They also use less electricity for a given amount of airflow.
The centrifugal action of the blower tends to sling grease droplets in the air into the filter, so less builds up in the hood and duct. You can remove the filter periodically and wash it in the dishwasher. Some range hood models also use a Teflon coating on the interior for very easy cleaning.
Some features to consider are digital touchpad controls. An auto-off feature allows you to leave the kitchen, and the blower will gradually slow and stop after five minutes. Built-in efficient night lights are great around children who tend to leave lights on. Warming trays are also convenient.
Shingles and mildew
Q. I am planning to have a new roof installed on my house. I was thinking about using light-colored shingles this time to keep the house cooler. Does this make sense, and will they get the dark streaks?
A. Light-colored shingles will reflect much more of the sun's heat than dark ones. They must be very light, almost white, to make a significant difference. Just lighter brown or rust colors will not help much.
If you keep your roof reasonably clean and it gets some sun, dark stains from mildew should not develop. If they do, stretch a copper wire along the peak of the roof. This will give off copper ions which retard mildew.
XWrite for Update Bulletin No. 914, which gives a buyer's guide of six quiet/efficient range vent hood manufacturers. It features 18 models and lists styles, sizes, noise levels, cfm airflows, features and cooking efficiency tips. Please include $3 and a business-size SASE to James Dulley, The Vindicator, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244. For an instant download, visit James Dulley online at www.dulley.com.