How to Install a Kitchen Exhaust Fan (Step-by-Step)

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An exhaust fan is an essential appliance in the kitchen to keep your kitchen atmosphere clean and breathable as it kicks up the grease, unpleasant odors, and a lot of smoke generated by activities in the kitchen like cooking, frying, or grilling.

Different exhaust fans are available with different mounting options, and the exhaust fan you choose depends on certain factors like usage, counter space, the surface area, height of your kitchen, etc. The installation of a kitchen exhaust fan depends on the type of exhaust fan you choose.

Types of Installation for Exhaust Fan

Kitchen Exhaust Fan

Some of you would prefer a ceiling exhaust fan, and some would prefer a window exhaust fan. Well, there are other options too… range hoods, downdraft systems, built-in microwave hoods, etc. So, let us first understand the types of installations available for a kitchen exhaust fan.

  • Wall Mounted Exhaust Fans are installed on the wall. It is a great option when you don’t have a cabinet over your stove, and your kitchen opens out to a free space.
  • Under Cabinet Exhaust Fans are the fans mounted on the bottom of your kitchen cabinet, which is just above your stove.
  • Ceiling Mounted Exhaust Fans sit over a peninsula or an island and are installed to the ceiling above your stove.
  • Downdraft Systems are a type of vents that sits behind or beside your stove and ventilate the kitchen by sucking down the air to a duct that runs under the floor.
  • Over The Range Microwaves with built-in vents are designed to be installed over your range and comes with a built-in ventilation system that recirculates air from the cooktop.

Related: 10 Best Exhaust Fans for Kitchen

Vented or Unvented Installation for Exhaust Fans

The kitchen exhaust fan installation can be of two types… vented or unvented. Let us understand the difference between the two before going to installation steps.

1. Vented exhaust Fans – These vents are attached to a duct, and it works by moving the air from the kitchen to the outdoors. These types of exhaust fans are always preferable as they remove the steam, oil, odor, heat, smoke out of your kitchen, and improve indoor air quality.

Vented fans help you to get rid of the grease and other harmful or irritating particles that otherwise accumulate to your kitchen walls or cabinets. If you don’t have ducts available in your kitchen, it would be a difficult and expensive option for installing your exhaust fan.

For Undercabinet mounting or wall mounting, the duct has to run behind or through the kitchen cabinet to an outer wall, and if you want a ceiling mounted exhaust fan, your duct must run above the ceiling towards the outdoors.

2. Unvented Exhaust Fans – Unvented exhaust fans are ductless as they have a fan without duct. They recirculate the air into the kitchen and filter some amount of grease and odors from the air. But, this type of exhaust fan doesn’t help you to remove humidity and heat from your kitchen.

A ductless exhaust fan can be mounted anywhere in your kitchen, and the location of your stove or cabinet hardly matters in that case. In case you have a temporary stay, unvented exhaust fans offer a practical and less expensive choice… and also uses less energy.

How to Install a Ducted Exhaust Fan

Below are the steps to install a ducted exhaust fan.

Step 1: Plan for your exhaust hole – You need to find out the route for your duct form inside the kitchen going up through the attic or outside the kitchen. Cut the hole between the joists where your duct pipe will fit. Push the tip of your drywall saw through the ceiling to make a hole into the attic or crawlspace.

Step 2: Insert your Duct – Hold your duct against the space where you inserted your saw and draw a circle around the edge of your duct and mark the cabinets to cut the holes for your duct. Using drywall, cut this circle out to insert the vent pipe through the hole.

Step 3: Attaching Duct Elbow – After you cut the hole, attach all the ductwork, reposition the plumb bob in the attic to drop it straight into the middle of the pipe coming up from the kitchen. In the kitchen, attach around 4-inches elbow to the exhaust port that you had cut and secured the seam using aluminum face duct tape.

Step 4: Install the exhaust Fan – Attach the transition duct pipe to the exhaust fan. While doing so, make sure the damper flap functions freely. Lift the exhaust fan or hood into the place you want it to install and attach it to the wall.

Step 5: Attach Connector Duct – The last step is to attach the connector duct to the wall cap and then insert the cap through the outside wall hole. You can add a rubber gasket and seal the edges with silicone.

How to Install a Ductless Exhaust Fan

Below are the steps to install a ductless exhaust fan.

Step 1: Find out Space – Ductless exhaust fans are versatile and can be installed at any place inside the kitchen. So, find out the suitable point of space where you want to install the fan.

Step 2: Check Measurements – Check out the measurement on your exhaust fan and get proper space for installing the exhaust fan like the height, size, and space required.

Step 3: Install the exhaust fan – On the hood, there will be instructions to attach it to the required place. Follow the step by step instructions for installation written on your ventilation system.

Step 4: Attach Studs – Lastly, you would need to get a stud finder to anchor the exhaust fan to the studs.

Tips for Installing a Kitchen Exhaust Fan

1. Make sure to install your kitchen exhaust fan at a suitable height. You can install it about 24 to 30 inches above your stovetop or a little higher if you are tall but don’t go beyond 36 inches.

2. Ductless fans are versatile and easy to install, but ducted fans need careful installation, so better take the help of an expert.

3. Route your exhaust fan to the shortest and preferably straight path to outdoors for efficient functioning… you will get a nice airflow and the least amount of grease buildup.

4. Be careful that your total duct length doesn’t exceed the airflow capacity of your exhaust fan.

5. Gather all the necessary tools, including extension cord, jigsaw, tape measure, tin snips, knife, caulk gun, drill machine, and dust mask, etc. before you start the installation.

6. If you are replacing your old exhaust fan with a new one, make sure your new unit fit in the existing opening, and it can be connected to your existing exhaust duct.


Installing a kitchen exhaust fan is not a tough job, but you have to be careful as the measurements, duct size, and connections should be adequately understood. New exhaust fan mounting is always easier as you can choose any type of exhaust fan and mounting options but a little time taking than the replacement of an existing exhaust fan.

But make sure you don’t miss out on any step as it would lead to the less effective functioning of your ventilation systems.

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