How many times has this happened to you? You clean your kitchen from top to bottom and make sure to clean every conceivable nook and cranny. Yet, when you turn on the range hood fan to help with ventilation while cooking dinner, you suddenly find everything within a four foot radius of the stove covered in dust or grime. If that has ever happened to you, then chances are you are experiencing a dirty range hood fan.
While it may be easier to purchase a new exhaust hood or even to hire a professional to do the cleaning for you, these certainly will not be the most inexpensive options. Instead, use this step-by-step guide to help you conduct this surprisingly easy task.
- Make a note. Write down what kind of noise the exhaust motor makes prior to cleaning. This is for later comparison in step eight.
- Turn off power. Since safety should always be a primary concern, all power to the range hood should be turned off. The easiest way to do this is to switch off power at the circuit breaker. Leave a note at the circuit breaker so that others do not come along and turn it back on in the middle of you working. Before preparing your workspace also make sure that all switches on the range hood have been turned to the off position.
- Prepare workspace. Select a work area free from flame, sparks, or a casual passerby bearing a lit object such as cigars, cigarettes, or candles. Lay a minimum of six paper towels down to create a completely clean workspace. Gather some Q-Tips that are designed for hobby and electronic parts cleaning and an alcohol that does not leave a residue (it will be clearly marked on the label). Do not use any alcohol or cleaner that is not specifically designed for use around electronics.
- Remove coverings. In order to gain as much access to the fan as possible you will need to remove any screens, filters, and trim that may be in place. Set everything aside in one location so that you can find them a little easier when the time comes to put everything back together. To even make it easier, lay everything down in the order that you remove it from the hood.
- Remove motor and fan. Take a look at the fan mounting assembly and make a note of where everything is located. Either take a picture or draw a sketch so that you can put everything back together again later. Place any and all screws or bolts that you have removed into a bowl or plastic baggie to avoid losing anything. When removing the fan make sure you have another person to help, since this is a two person job—one person to hold the fan and the other to do the tool work. Keep in mind that some fans are hard wired, so you might get five to six inches of cable play, just enough for the fan to drop out of its bay. Be careful not to break or bend the fan blades. If at all possible, disconnect the wiring to allow an easier cleaning job. Just make note of how the wiring was connected so that you reconnect everything properly.
- Clean motor and fan. Work thoroughly on the fan and the motor to remove debris and grease from all surfaces. If it is possible to remove the fan blades, dip them in a bath of straight ammonia to help remove the grease and debris. The motor winding will have a protective glaze which becomes visible during the cleaning process. This protective glaze has a distinctive red-gold or red-copper color to it; do not remove this protective surface. Once you clean everything allow all parts to completely dry.
- Replace motor. If you have removed the motor, go ahead and replace it. If the fan blades were removable leave them off while replacing the motor. This will allow an easier, and safer test of your work. Simply reconnect everything in the reverse order that you removed it.
- Test work. Reconnect the power supply to the range hood so that you have power to test your work. Switch on the fan and make note of the noise level. Compare your results with those written down in step one. If the noise level is acceptable, then skip to step ten; if not proceed to step nine.
- Fine tune work. Apply WD-40 by spraying it onto paper towels and wiping them onto the connections between the motor and fan blades. This allows smother operation and reduces any odd or improper noises.
- Reassemble. Once you have completed cleaning, testing, and fine tuning your work it is time to reassemble the range hood.