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Ventilation-Free Kitchen


mags
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I live in what used to be the servants' quarters (read: the attic) of a brownstown in lower Manhattan. Love my apartment, but the kitchen has ZERO ventilation -- no window, no vent for the stove, nada. The stove does feature this ancient overhead "filter" unit, which makes an impressive jet-plane-taking-off noise and terrifies the kitties, but otherwise doesn't seem to do much. Am I just SOL? Does anybody make filters that actually DO do something -- you know, like prevent my walls and books -- in a 20-foot radius -- from being festooned with large orange grease-bloblets every time I fry an egg? I'm not bothered about smells; I LIKE cooking smells, and anyone who doesn't isn't invited to tea. But it would be very delightful to be able to, say, pan-fry a steak in a cast-iron pan without having to worry that the fire department is going to show up any minute; we're talking NO outlet for the smoke.

Any ideas?

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It's possible to buy over-stove fans with integrated activated charcoal filters for just such a situation. The air is recirculated in the kitchen but the activated charcoal cleans out the bad smells and alot of the fine particles. Aslo, modern fan technology makes the fan whisper quite.

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My rental situation is similar. I'm guessing you have a hood over the stove that just blows the exhaust back into the kitchen. It sounds to me like the filter is saturated with grease and most likely has never been replaced. Try changing it before doing anything drastic or expensive.

For steaks on the stove try opening windows in the overall living space to create a cross-draft. A fan in one of the windows would help. After all, you're up in the attic. There should be some good wind currents up there. :wink::biggrin:

PJ

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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Good luck on pan frying that steak. You need the Great Outdoors in that place. Think BBQ Roof; It's the best place for apt dwellers. Filters are best cleaned in a dishwasher, if can usually be obtained from friends with wine or other digestible items.

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

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"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

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Good luck on pan frying that steak. You need the Great Outdoors in that place. Think BBQ Roof; It's the best place for apt dwellers. Filters are best cleaned in a dishwasher, if can usually be obtained from friends with wine or other digestible items.

:biggrin: I got a dishwasher, what I don't got is a roof. But yeah, I think I will see about changing the filter. This unit is so ancient I'm afraid they may not make replacement parts anymore, though. What really kills me is that the kitchen has a skylight in it. Nice large-ish skylight. Lets in plenty of light, which is swell. But does not allow any air in -- or out.

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A skylight in the kitchen but no ventilation?

Isn't there someone around here with a sig about certain things being representative of being in love with the idea of cooking as opposed to actual cooking itself?

Anyway, I'm keeping an eye on this thread too because I live in an effete urbanite shoebox with the same stupid grease recirculation system that masquerades as ventilation.

Pat

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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I'm someone else who, er, feels your pain, so to speak.

After moving from a house with real kitchen ventilation, I'm stuck in an apartment with a similar non-ventilation situation.

There's a hood with a fan that blows through a wire-mesh filter(?) then a thin activated charcoal pad and back into the kitchen.

I haven't had problems with excess hydrocarbon residue outside the kitchen, but I've had to disconnect the smoke alarm occasionally, before it told me what I already knew.

Looking at the 'filter,' it says, "To clean, flush monthly in warm detergent solution." Okay, sounds like a good idea, and I haven't done it yet. I think I'll try the dishwasher; I don't know if it would do any good or harm to the charcoal, but finding a replacement filter seems like too much work.

I'm still limited in my ability to deep-fry; the oil smell lingers too long even if not making a noticeable deposit on the surroundings. And opening all the doors and windows has certain problems when you have a cat that is officially retired to indoors, but still thinks that going outside is a good thing.

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Bean, have you thought about getting screens for the windows? That's what I'm doing, to prevent the kitty-trying-to-fly scenario.

Actually, I love my apartment, irritating kitchen and all. The skylights were put in when the building was built in the early 19th century, as a one-family house (I have another one in the bathroom). But in the 1950s, I think -- maybe earlier -- the building was broken up into apartments, and they did a medium-crappy job, with the result that I have these two weird skylights that don't open, and both fireplaces -- fancy, with carved plaster mantles, one in the bedroom and one in the living room -- are in really odd places, squinched over by the walls, rather than in the centers of the rooms. But because it's the attic, the ceilings slope in an endearing and decidedly non-standard-Manhattan-box sort of way, and in my living room, I have two windows and two funky sort of porthole things. Really, if I could only change one thing about the place, it would involve getting some kind of ventilation in the kitchen. I do sort of miss my old place, which had a nice terrace that looked into a garden, and a window in the kitchen, but the apartment in total was the size of a small sandwich, so this is a big step up.

But I will look into getting either a replacement filter or replacing the whole damn fan aparatus, which dates from, I'm guessing, the Hoover administration.

Edited to note that when I become fabulously wealthy, I will buy the apartment below me, with the aforementioned terrace, and turn at least half the sandwich into a kitchen.

Edited by mags (log)
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I think cleaning the existing metal filter screen and replacing the charcoal filter is imperative. It may not be a cure but will likely improve the situation immensely. Forget about the "soaking in warm water" business. If that baby is as crudded up as I suspect, you need the miracle product that I learned about here in eGullet: Dawn Power Dissolver. It really, really works to remove built up layers of grease - better than anything else I've tried short of chemical degreasers that emit toxic fumes.

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There's a hood with a fan that blows through a wire-mesh filter(?) then a thin activated charcoal pad and back into the kitchen.

......

Looking at the 'filter,' it says, "To clean, flush monthly in warm detergent solution." Okay, sounds like a good idea, and I haven't done it yet. I think I'll try the dishwasher; I don't know if it would do any good or harm to the charcoal, but finding a replacement filter seems like too much work.

I'm pretty sure the washing instructions are for the metal mesh filter only. The charcoal filter probably needs to be replaced - I don't think those types of filters are washable.....

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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I'm pretty sure the washing instructions are for the metal mesh filter only. The charcoal filter probably needs to be replaced - I don't think those types of filters are washable.....

Thanks; I'm quite sure you're right. I know about activated charcoal, and the idea that a dishwasher would do it any good is quite absurd. Unfortunately, locating another charcoal pad for this filter would be approximately equal to locating another complete filter assembly for this hood, and as I mentioned before, I'm too laz...er, I mean, busy to do that.

Nonetheless, it's worth a try, and I'll have a look.

Thanks also to phaelon56 for the same suggestion.

Looks like I have some work to do, and I'd recommend the same to others in this situation.

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Bean, have you thought about getting screens for the windows?  That's what I'm doing, to prevent the kitty-trying-to-fly scenario.

Quite so; I do have window screens, and living on the ground floor tends to make the flying-kitty scenario less likely, but the attempting-to-escape at the first opportunity thing still exists.

My front door is adjacent to the kitchen, so opening that door is very helpful if there's a danger of the smoke alarm going off; I've managed to devise barriers thus far that have been successful in keeping the cat inside.

Edit: Because I felt like it.

Edited by Human Bean (log)
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In college, I lived in two different dorm rooms with kitchenettes. They both had tiny windows but no formal ventilation system. Once I had a friend over who accidentally set my coffee pot on fire. (I kept it on the stove since the kitchen was so tiny, and didn't think about it since I lived alone and had no problem avoiding use of that part of the stove. Then my friend comes over and wants to cook eggs...:rolleyes:) I immediately grabbed my fan and pushed all that smoky air towards the tiny window. No burning plastic smell a few hours later, and I didn't set off the fire alarm either.

I am wondering if you can use a regular fan to help push air towards the doorway and (presumably) open windows elsewhere in your apartment when you want to sear a steak or something. Might be better than nothing.

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To clean the mesh...go to the hardware store and get a product called Spray Nine. Grocery stores generally don't have it. The company is in/near Buffalo, NY, so if the hardware store doesn't have it, they should be able to get it. It is a fabulous cleaner for grease. Take the filter out and spray thoroughly...let it sit...if the whole filter fits in the sink, submerge it in the Spray Nine. You may need to use a brush of some sort to get all the nooks and crannies, but it will work.

Also, the dishwasher will do a fine job of cleaning...there are good grease cutters in diswasher detergent. Wash the filter alone, not with your dishes, and remove the top rack if you need to for the filter to fit. We have an electrostatic filter for our central air conditioner that we wash in the DW...comes out spanking clean. Which reminds me...probably time to clean the air conditioner filter and the exhaust over the stove.... :wink:

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You might consider the Living Air air purifier if your problem is really serious and cleaning the filter in the exhaust unit does not improve its effect.

The price is steep, probably near $750. including shipping.

http://www.ecoquestintl.com/dealer_products/classic.asp

It is not at all like most air filters. It can clear a home of smoke, dust particles, etc., very rapidly.

These units were used in the Pentagon after 911. We used one in my office after the fires last fall because the office smelled like the inside of a barbecue from the smoke that had been drawn into the building by the air conditioner which obviously was not filtering much.

I have had one for a couple of years and it is worth its weight in gold.

I turn it on when I am going to fry or bake fish and the unplesant odors are gone instantly.

I have a friend who lives and works in a loft in downtown L.A. and had a lot of trouble with unplesant odors coming from outside as well as the fumes from the paints and printing inks with which she works. (Not to mention the occasional odor of burnt coffee when she forgets to put the carafe back in the coffee machine.)

She bought a Living Air on my recommendation and reports that it works so well that when she burns scented candles she has to turn the unit off because it also removes that from the air.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Hunh. This is an idea with real appeal, since the filter over my stove -- even if I clean the damn thing, which I obviously have to do -- doesn't do anything about removing smoke, and smoke is one of the two big problems. You say this baby really does get rid of smoke quickly?

The other big problem is grease, which collects in droplets in the air and then festoons itself across my ceilings and walls -- and is by no means confined to the kitchen. Do you think the air purifier does anything with grease? Perhaps I should call the company. At any rate, thanks for a very interesting option.

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I am wondering if you can use a regular fan to help push air towards the doorway and (presumably) open windows elsewhere in your apartment when you want to sear a steak or something. Might be better than nothing.

Yup, good idea. Vornado fan (Bed Bath and Beyond has them, around 40 bucks if memory serves.) They're tiny and move an amazing volume of air. If your apartment configuration permits it, sit one of these little fans on the floor in the doorway of your kitchen, hopefully pointed at an open window. You will be stunned at the difference it makes. Obviously, no filtration, but just moving the smoke out of the kitchen will make things at least 90% better.

enrevanche <http://enrevanche.blogspot.com>

Greenwich Village, NYC

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

- Mark Twain

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Hunh. This is an idea with real appeal, since the filter over my stove -- even if I clean the damn thing, which I obviously have to do -- doesn't do anything about removing smoke, and smoke is one of the two big problems. You say this baby really does get rid of smoke quickly?

The other big problem is grease, which collects in droplets in the air and then festoons itself across my ceilings and walls -- and is by no means confined to the kitchen. Do you think the air purifier does anything with grease? Perhaps I should call the company. At any rate, thanks for a very interesting option.

You can call them: It takes everything out of the air. I have tried other air filters and they were ineffective. I live in the dessert and we have a lot of sand/dust storms. This unit cleans the air in my home so well I no longer have to dust every day. Even my TV screen and my monitor stays dust-free.

ECO LIFE INTERNATIONAL / LIVING AIR

LIVING AIR CLASSIC AIR PURIFIER (FILTERLESS)

1-800-895-5006 E-Mail: ECOLIFE@PACBELL.NET

website: www.ECOLIFEINTL.com

Visit the HOME ENVIRONMENT CENTER, located at:

4454 Van Nuys Blvd. Suite B

Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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