Clearing the Air

Bigger is better. That is the trend the industry is seeing in today’s kitchens and baths. However, bigger does pose some challenges, especially concerning indoor air quality and what it takes to properly ventilate a larger space.

We’ve all heard it before — the homeowner who wants to double the size of their kitchen to make room for high-end professional appliances, space to accommodate 20 people and a wet bar. Or, the homeowner who wishes to update their master bath into a luxurious spa made for two — two showerheads, two sinks, a steamer and a hot tub.

With all of these updates, upgrades and upsizing, a good ventilation system becomes key in designing and remodeling a beautiful, yet functional kitchen or bath. Not having an efficient hood in the kitchen or an exhaust fan in the bathroom could end up causing a multitude of problems such as, deterioration of cabinets, paints and worse of all — mold.

Homeowners typically focus on aesthetic features during a project rather than focusing on factors such as the quality of the indoor air and how it can ultimately damage their home. In fact, according to the American Lung Association, in 1999, 85 percent of Americans didn’t realize the air in their homes posed a possible health hazard. As the professional, offering their customers proper ventilation using performance certified products plays a huge advantage against the competition.

A new kind of focal point
“Kitchen range hoods were once an afterthought to many homeowners,” says Alex Siow, vice president of sales and marketing for Zephyr, “especially because of the limited choice homeowners had when it came to the look of the hood.”

Today, manufacturers are designing hoods that match any style of home on many price points.

To provide high-end designer hoods at a reasonable price, Zephyr partnered up with Fu-Tung Cheng, owner of Cheng Design Products.

“Cheng’s legendary designs, along with Zephyr’s technology, are what sparked the mutual interest and ultimately, partnership,” adds Siow. “We applied and used his knowledge on hoods in a production environment to bring the price down so homeowners on any budget could afford a great-looking product.”

The new Cheng Design by Zephyr will consist of three models offering an alternative to the large, bulky restaurant-style hoods that currently exist in the market place for pro-style ranges. The Okeanito hood, featuring organic, clean sculpted lines, is adapted from Cheng’s original Okean custom hood. Featuring a slowcurve canopy, the new Trapeze hood is the unique island hood from the Cheng Design by Zephyr line. And the ground-breaking new Shade hood, inspired by the functionality of a matchbook cover, features a unique hinged design, with never before seen innovative interchangeable custom front panels.

Zephyr also offers a self-cleaning element on its Power Series — low-maintenance and no filter to clean. “Versatility is built right in,” says Siow. “The Power Series features double centrifugal blowers that automatically liquefycooking residue into two clean cups, eliminating the need for baffles or filters.”

Part of the Power Series is the Tempest I and Tempest II, the first in high-end ventilation with Intelli-sensor technology. The touch-free Intelli-sensor technology found in both models, detects heat from the cooking surface with a built-in sensor, eliminating the need to manually adjust the fan speed. Additionally, this “touch-free” feature keeps the stainless steel finish free of fingerprints.

Hoods made to look good doesn’t mean that manufacturers compensated the performance of the product. Performance is still the No. 1 priority.“We want our product to look good, but we most concerned with the performance of the piece to do the job it is meant to do,” adds Collins.

The Allure series of range hoods by Broan started with a question, “What do people want from a range hood? The answer was, a better design, sound levels that weren’t intruding, easy cleanup, bright lighting and efficient performance.

The Allure III combines all the above with its modern styling with advanced features like three-speed electronic control plus boost-speed mode, delay-off and filter cleaning reminder. Easy cleaning is assured because for the first time anywhere, you can have the easy cleaning of DuPont Teflon in a range hood.

“Having a range hood that ‘does the job’ was also high on consumers’ list of desires,” says Brian Wellnitz, range hood product manager. “Allure provides efficient and effective smoke removal capability under all cooking conditions.”

According to the Home Ventilation Institute, kitchen hoods installed directly over the range capture heated air, moisture, smoke and odors, while the fan exhausts them to the outside through ductwork. The HVI also recommends the hood should be the same width as the cooking surface and mounted directly over it at a height of 18 to 30 in. above the cooking surface.

Moisture be gone
Now that we have an array of quiet, high-performance and easy-to-install products on the market, why is it so important to have proper ventilation in the bathroom?

According to the HVI, during a shower, the humidity levels in the bathroom are like that of a tropical rain forest — uncomfortable, hot and damaging — a breeding ground for mold, mildew and micro-organisms that can impact your health.

Excess moisture has tremendous potential for damaging the home. It can cause deterioration of joists an framing above the bathroom, and it cracks and peels paint away, ruins gypsum wallboard and warps the cabinets and fixtures. It encourages mildew on tile grout and provides an environment for increased bacteria growth. Exhaust fans, ducted to the outside remove moisture, and prevent these types of occurrences.

Many types of attractive options for bathroom exhaust fans to meet any application requiring local ventilation. According to the HVI, they include ceiling exhaust fans, fan-lights and heat/fan-lights, remote exterior-mounted ventilators, in-line fans and wall fans.

The HVI also recommends eight air changes per hour. An easy way to determine the airflow rate required is to multiply the bathroom floor area in square feet by 1.1.

Collins suggests installing the fans as near to the shower as possible and, if suitable for the location, directly over it to capture the moisture as directly as possible.

Is the fan on?
Remember when turning on the bathroom exhaust fan sounded and felt like a Boeing 747 just landed in your backyard? According to Collins, one suggestion that consumers had on improving bath fans was to make it as quiet as possible.

The folks at Broan took this to heart and introduced the QT Series of Ventilation Solutions. The new QT Series feature high style that distinguishes them from other competitors.

In addition to performance and aesthetics of the fan, most important to the installer — the fans are easy to install. The new design features full-length installation tabs and engineered “I”-joist spacers, providing for a solid mount in all types of construction without using extension bars.

Panasonic’s introduction of the Whisperfit line of fans peaked consumers interest with its near-silent sound output and sparked an interest in remodelers with it’s low profile housing.

Designed to fit 2- by 6-in. joists or larger, this low-profile fan doesn’t sacrifice performance for size. An optional 3-in. duct adaptor is also included for those areas where a smaller duct is necessary.

The Whisperfit fan also features a totally enclosed condenser motor and a large, double suction blower wheel to quietly move air.