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Jan 19, 2007 12:05 AM

Do You Own a VENT A HOOD Exhaust Hood Over Your Stove??

there is what seems to be a complex internal cleaning process because the oil that is sucked up by the fan is collected in a internal collection unit. and there are other maintenance issues as well. do you do this maintenance on your own?? will vent a hood dealers do it for a price?? for those remodeling, Vent A Hood is just outstanding though the unit we have is so loud, you cant hear the phone. But it sucks up cooking oil like a dream.

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    "The Magic Lung® housing snaps apart for easy cleaning in the dishwasher or with warm, soapy water."

    It's not complex, just follow the instructions that came with your VAH...

    Joe B.
    VAH SLXH18-236 Owner

    1. I too own Vent-A-Hood, but I have to say that after reading about how Chef Thomas Keller has someone clean the hood in his kitchen everyday (perfectionist that he is), I tried to do the same for about two days and decided that three Michelin stars would not be coming my way anytime soon regardless of the state of my VAH.

      1. This is an old post but I thought I'd reply to hopefully help someone avoid the problems that I have due to buying a Vent-A-Hood.
        First: Although this "Magic Lung" nonsense looks great on paper, it doesn't work.
        They tell you that: "The Magic Lung® housing snaps apart for easy cleaning in the dishwasher or with warm, soapy water. Moreover, the Magic Lung® is the only ventilation system that collects the grease in the easily cleaned housing rather than in hard-to-reach areas behind a mesh or baffle filter".
        And go on to say: " The Magic Lung® blower system is designed so that if the motor is running properly, the system will liquefy grease in the sealed blower housing and create a pressure barrier, lowering the risk of an attic or wall fire".
        Well I've had a 42 inch dual blower Vent-A-Hood over my 36 inch Viking Range for two years now. Here's what REALLY happens:
        The grease that collects (along with the dust because there is no filter) in the housing does NOT just remain in the housing. It gets everywhere. Both blowers get completely covered with grease and dirt. The grease also is blown up the vent causing the vent to become filthy too. This thing takes HOURS to clean. I should know. I started cleaning mine at 4PM today and I'm not finished yet and it's 7:30. I took a break to write this.
        As far as their statement that "the system will liquefy grease in the sealed blower housing and create a pressure barrier,".....this is laughable. Sealed blower housing? There are two flimsy plastic flaps that create about as much of a seal as a piece of scotch tape on a fire hose.
        As far as the claim that it's quiet: It's not. True, if you only have it on low speed it is fairly quiet. But unless you are only simmering something on one burner, low speed is not going to do much. High speed is loud.
        Another problem is their customer support. It's non-existent.
        I had installation and technical questions when I bought mine and it took weeks to get an answer from them.
        Also after mine was installed I had to call them again because it was vibrating. They sent out a service tech who told that the housing was not sealing against the hood. The fix? I have to buy and install weather stripping everytime I clean it.
        I should mention that I am a mechanic and very technically capable. I'd hate to think how the average person would deal with this.
        Well that's my Vent-A-Hood review.
        I have to go back and continue cleaning it for another hour.

        My advice is this: Due some research and buy something else. And don't do what I did and rely on the hype that the manufacturers and sales people push. Check out installed units and talk to people who use it.


        12 Replies
        1. re: joe_the_cook

          It's hard to jump in and respond to someone who's so obviously frustrated/irritated with a piece of equipment. But this is so excessively negative, I kinda feel like I have to.

          We have a 42" x 27" VAH over a 36" Bluestar. Maybe we don't drive our range as hard as you do. But I've cleaned the hood once in the almost a year we've been using it (due to clean again fairly soon). And I didn't think it was that big of a deal, maybe 45 minutes. There was some oil that'd collected in the baffle- it came out easily. The rest I just went over with hot soapy water and Windex to clean it up. Was it perfect? No. The oil/grease polymerizes some and unless you got medieval on it with oven cleaner, it isn't all coming off. Not the end of the world. Now that I think about it, I suspect I did use the oven cleaner to make quick work of the gooey stuff.

          I agree that the plastic flaps are dinky. I've thought about making up some aluminum or stainless ones to replace them (or putting a backdraft damper from FanTech in the vent duct). Honestly, I'm not concerned about any residual grease that gets into the duct. I buy into the claim that most of it is getting thrown out of the airflow by the blowers. Trying to clean up into the duct just seems way too fussy to me. Besides, I'm sure there's some carryover even in filtered hoods- it's not like they have pleated paper filters, so there are open passages for air to go straight through.

          As for the seal/vibration, maybe there's some solution that doesn't require replacement every time you clean. For us, one fan on low is sufficient 95% of the time. Sure, going to high speed on one or two fans gets loud when you're standing at the range. I pretty much expect for a range hood to make some noise or else it isn't doing its job (as an aside, that's unlike Panasonic bath fans, which are super quiet). I don't expect to be enjoying a bit of Mozart as I sear my steak. It's probably a good thing- if something's going on that requires that much ventilation, I probably ought to be paying pretty close attention to it. And both fans running on high will pull out about as much smoke as I can generate with a wok running on a 22k Btu burner- that's pretty comforting to me.

          As for technical support, reading between the lines, I suspect that you sent them an e-mail and didn't hear back in a timely fashion. I have seen this kind of comment a lot with folks dealing with various sectors of the manufacturing industry. Even in the super-wired times we live in, the best advice I can give (to anyone) is this: If you have a time-critical problem or information need, pick up the phone and call.

          When I was getting ready to order a duct cover for our hood, I got excellent advice from our local distributor. The problem was that the length I needed wasn't available as standard, and I didn't want to wait for the time to get the custom length fabricated (9-12 weeks, IIRC). The guy I spoke to had previously spent a lot of time installing hoods. His suggestion, which ended up working great, was to get the next size up and cut a hole in the ceiling and just slide the extra length up into the attic. That plus a little caulk, and you'd never know.

          Anyway, there are a lot of hood brands out there, and definitely several that are cheaper than VAH. With the exception of Broan, I don't think any of them have the kind of track record that VAH has.

          We're happy with ours. Sorry that you're so annoyed.

          1. re: ted

            we're considering exactly the same combination you wrote about - are you happy with your blue star and ventahood 4 years later? any recommendations?

            1. re: scottms

              Sorry for the slow response- been out of town for work for several days and mostly out in the heat instead of in front of the computer.

              Yes, we're still happy. I did finally replace the plastic flappers in the VAH with homemade metal ones that are a big improvement. Gives me a little more comfort that less heat is wafting up the exhaust duct in the winter. When we got several days in the teens this winter (unusual for GA), I was stuffing a towel in there and that was the impetus to finally make the replacement flaps.

              I need to replace my burner igniter modules. I found a good price online for a single one that handles all 6 burners. I believe this is the one that BS uses as stock now. Unfortunately it will require a little tweaking to retrofit the one to replace the two that are installed. Have been so busy lately that I just haven't had time to sit down and tackle it.

              I'm hoping this will address our issues (multiple burners won't shut off the igniter after lighting). I have replacement Viking-style electrodes also, but that may be more difficult to trade out. There was a poster on THS who had done this and put up a description of what he did.

              For 5+ years out with good use, I'm not upset at all that a couple of parts need replacing. I tried to save a few bucks by picking up parts from other sources, so it's on me to get it to work. If you read my other posts, I also replaced the oven thermostat about 18 months ago. No problems with that since.

              1. re: ted

                Thanks for the response Ted. I called Blue Star and apparently they have changed the igniters to individual units on each burner that are "easy to replace" as they do tend to crack if they get wet. They supply two extra with each new stove and apparently they are quite inexpensive if you need more. They claim that this igniter set up is needed because of the open burners that are the hallmark of the range and well worth the bother. We'll probably pullt he trigger and buy the range and hood this week as we love to cook and have been suffering for years with low end (mostly electric) ranges.

                1. re: scottms

                  The electrodes (igniters) have always been one per burner. There were 2 modules that fire them, but I believe that's changed to one module for all 6 burners. The module(s) are in the control panel behind the burner knobs.

                  The electrodes are maybe a $5 part. BS charges $25-$30 (IIRC). The ones I picked up were much closer to the $5 price point. But they're going to require a little work to replace. The other issue that applies to either is that the tiny screws that hold the electrode to the burner from beneath seem to rust out over time. That makes getting them loose or replacing them tough.

          2. re: joe_the_cook

            Oh man where to begin......
            Well the weather stripping is doing little...actually it's hindering things. It's letting you ignore the real problem, the fan is vibrating.

            Vibrating = Out of balance
            Since it was new you should have told the installers to march up and balance the thing. Next time the fan is cleaned have it balanced then.

            Also turn fans off before you pull your filters out this will prevent the "grease globs" from being pulled onto the fan, thus causing it to go out of balance. Then wipe the upper track that houses the filters. And of course wipe lower track,and empty drip trays. Then throw cleaned filters back in place.

            Hope this helps.
            Lou (humble hood cleaner)

            1. re: joe_the_cook

              While i can't comment on the cleaning i will say that I am equally disappointed with VAH. It was the most expensive piece of equipment we bought for our kitchen and we have already had three service calls in less than a year. The first was for the dual speed motor, vibrating and noisy at low speed, the second was for the same reason, the third was for the same reason and now we have to have them service it for the fourth time!
              My belief is that the dual speed motor simply does not mechanically work for any length of time. I think that the governor malfunctions as it creates an oscillating sound along with excessive vibration.
              Again this is a brand new unit and really hasn't been used all that much.
              Any comments?

              1. re: bpiwek

                We have a 7 year old Ventahood. Works perfectly. Our model has both a single speed and dual speed blower.

                No issues with vibration or noise. Both blowers on is only marginally louder than the dual speed blower on low.

                Apparently YMMV

              2. re: joe_the_cook

                Thank you. I was thinking that I should get one now I won't

                1. re: knitone

                  Let us know what you get and why you decided on it. Our Ventahood is almost 5 years old and has functioned very well.

                  1. re: knitone

                    We've only had ours a couple of months, so I dare not comment on cleaning, it's still clean. The noise level is so far below where the recycling hood we had was that I perhaps don't notice. We did about 3 years worth of kitchen tours and listened to every vent hood we could. I can't say any were significantly less noisy than the Vent-a-Hood, even the one with the remote fan was only maybe slightly quieter. We have the 42" Euro wall hood, don't know if that makes any difference or not. It ended up being the only, what I would call high end vent that we could actually find a demo of in an appliance show room. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the relatively smaller metro area we live in and the proxsimity to the factory. Although I'm sure there are other hoods with simialr features, there are some neat things on the VAH. I typically turn the fan on low just to pull out fumes and gases, but it automatically turns up the fan when the heat sensor detects you have an excess of heat building up, so when I was boiling water for cannolini and also boiling water to wilt the spinich, it jumped to a higher fan speed and then back down again when things cooled off a little. So far we've been pleased with this hood.

                  2. re: joe_the_cook

                    I installed Vent a hood in 1986 and we have been using it since then (for 26 years). My wife cooks Indian food on an industrial scale. My kitchen ceiling is white and it is till today looks as white as it was painted 26 years ago. There is no layer of oily film to speak of. I paid $550 then for the unit with two blower (650 cfm). I have a PHD in Physices, I can tell you The Magic Lung blower system is the best design to get the maximum air flow into the blowe without any resistance. Yes, you have to clean it. You don't need to clean the squirrel cages, if they are too dirty, you can buy them for a#12/piece. They beed to be balanced just like your car tire. For your information; anything which is rotating at high speed around any axis needs to be balance to avoid vobbul and subsequent vibration. Your mechanics did not understand the fundamental . The sealed blower means you do not need to oil the motor. We remodeling our kitchen and I am going to replace my 26 years old Vent A Hood (worling perfectly) with a stainless steel chimney model. I don't think there is any hood in the market today with this kind of efficiency. My neibours say when my wife cooks, they savour the the Biryanee smell and that spicy aroma the hood sucks out, leaving no aerosol particles to lingler around to be absorbed by your clothings, hair and carpet. All my Asian and Indian friends use Vent A Hood far longr than you have. No one have evern complained about maintainance. Remember, even Toyota Camry needs regular mainainance.


                  3. I'm with Joe on this one. I'm not the cook, but I'm the guy that cleans the hood. I'm also the guy who, in spite of a degree in physics, fell for the line spun by VentaHood. I should be ashamed. Ours is old -- about 15 years -- and it only has one speed (the right speed for getting the grease out of the air!!). It's noisy. Neither the cook nor I like it.
                    I confess, I don't clean it often, and when I do, the fan 'squirrel cage' usually needs to be cleaned. It's hard to get off, it's hard to clean, and it's hard to put back on.They could have designed that better! My planned solution is to buy some of the metal filters for a Sears hood and jury rig a mounting for them.

                    1. Hi,
                      Has anyone had this problem with their VAH? Mine is about 15 years old. The main problem is that the underside paint is peeling terribly, so much so that I am worried about the paint falling into my food. Anyone ever had this problem? Any ideas short of buying another one?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: alennox

                        Git rid of the paint, it's not suppose to be there. I see many like this and like yours the stuff is peeling and falling off ...... so what do the restaurant owner often do?

                        Repaint it!!...............grr Ever wonder of the accumulation of bacteria in that paint?

                        Just have it cleaned to bare metal....that's what code (NFPA 96) recommends.

                        Hope it helps
                        Lou (humble hood cleaner)

                        1. re: LouG

                          You are sooo right...NFPA 96...the system is clean when you see "Bare Metal". Remember not to ONLY pay attention to what you can see...the real problems occur in the shaft and the fan because of heavy accumulations passing the filters and collecting, this causes a real fire can take only one spark to ignite if not properly maintained...especially if you are dealing with a commercial fan...all the moving parts, belts and so on....friction causes heat all the built up grease is fuel for the if your fan starts squeaking you need to check your belt and possibly grease the bearings do what you can to maintain a fire-safe