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Range hood filters need maintenance like most other types of filters do. Range hoods typically will have one of three styles of filter. They all deserve a little attention and the all are cared for differently.
The professional style or commercial range hoods often will have a baffle type filter. According to Broan, a leading manufacturer of range hoods, this style of filters are designed to handle high grease environments like might be found in a commercial kitchen. As a result they can go longer between cleanings. Broan suggests that these should be cleaned when they become dirty and unsightly. They are usually washable in a dishwasher.
Most home kitchens do not have professional style range hoods. For these more common hoods, the big difference is whether the hood vents to outside of the home or not. As a side note, Broan advocates the vented range hood as a superior product, because in a non-vented hood many particulates are extracted from any smoke, but some gets past the filter then can recirculate into the home.
When your hood vents to the outside of the home, you should have a relatively easy fix. The filter will likely be an aluminum mesh within a frame. Being all aluminum this can be washed in the dishwasher. Some other cleaning methods I have heard of include soaking the filter in hot water to loosen any cooked on grease, then scrub vigorously. I have also seen recommendations to warm the filter in the oven over low heat to loosen grease. If you take this approach be very careful not to burn yourself cleaning the hot filter. Some degreasing oven cleaner might also be good for breaking down any build up. Broan recommends cleaning these types of filter on a monthly basis.
If your range hoods does not duct outside of the home, you might be happy to hear that you can go 3-6 months before having to deal with the filter. The downside is that at that point the filter cannot be cleaned. It must actually be replaced. The carbon used to extract smoke particles become saturated and the filter loses it effectiveness at that point.
W.L. May stocks many of the most common sizes of filters, both the aluminum mesh type as well as the carbon type used for ductless range hoods. There are a wide variety of sizes used though. If it turns out your hood has a filter of an unusual size we can still help you. The filter manufacturer will make any size filter by dimension.
Only a few more weeks to go until Thanksgiving. I think I will pass on Aunt Inga's dish, but bring on the pumpkin pie!
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