7 Range Hood Vent Codes (2024 Requirements)

Probably the most important code requirement for range hoods is that they should vent outdoors.

Another important code is on the duct length and diameter of kitchen hoods.

The in-wall range hood duct should be made out of smooth metal and with a minimal amount of turns.

range-hood-vent-code-requirements

As a home inspector, I have inspected many range hoods over the years, and clients frequently ask me about building codes. Even though inspectors aren’t code inspectors, we do like to familiarize with building codes and best practices.

In this HomeInspectorSecrets.com code guide, I will go over…

  • Minimum duct length & diameter
  • Minimum CFM or fan speed
  • How range hoods vent to the outside
  • Makeup air systems for high powered vent hoods

Kitchen Hood Vent Codes Are Based On The IRC And Your Local Code

Range hood vent code requirements are laid out in the IRC or the International Residential Code.

The IRC is a ‘model code’ that many U.S. states and counties base their code on. For the final say on any code matter, you will need to consult your local state or city building codes or even a quick call to your local building department.

range hood vent code requirements

Even though I summarize the code requirements (I just looked at some of the most important issues), this isn’t exhaustive of every single code and exception.

As a side note, older houses are almost usually ‘grandfathered in’ and not required to adhere to newer code requirements except for new installations.

7 Building Codes For Kitchen Vent Hoods

1. Must Vent To Outside

Range hoods always need to vent to the exterior. They can’t exhaust into an attic, a crawlspace, or inside a ceiling cavity.

The main code exception is for ductless or recirculating range hoods as long as they are listed and designed for that type of installation. Recirculating range hoods always require the addition of a carbon filter which helps catch smoke and smells. You may want to read my full guide on 'do range hoods have to be vented outside' that goes into more detail.

Here are a few other code requirements on how range hoods exhaust…

  • Interior of the duct should be smooth (no ridges)
  • Range hood duct needs to be air tight
  • Hood needs to have a backdraft damper (a damper or ‘flap’ closes the vent when the hood is not in use)
  • Exhaust duct needs to be independent and not connected to any other exhaust system such as a bathroom fan
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2. Ducting Material

Range hood ducts always need to be either galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper.

The one big exception to this code is if the range hood is a downdraft type (it sucks in air downwards and the vent goes into the floor).

With a downdraft hood, it is permissible to use PVC plastic piping instead of metal under certain conditions.

Read Also >> How To Install A Range Hood Vent In A Roof?

3. Makeup Air System May Be Required

If you have a range hood that is rated at 400-cfm or greater, you may be required to have a makeup air system installed. Makeup air systems are automated devices with dampers that brings in fresh outdoor or to replace the air exhausted by the range hood.

The makeup air unit also needs to have a damper which closes when not in use so outdoor air doesn’t leak into the home.

There are universal makeup air systems on the market that uses a sensor to open the damper if it detects the range hood turned on. These systems only need low voltage wiring and they work well with new construction or existing kitchen hoods.

4. Duct Length

The code requirements for the duct length of range hoods is based on the duct diameter, whether it is smooth walled, and it’s CFM rating.

For example, if your range hood is rated at 200-cfm, and the flex duct has a 6-inch diameter, then the maximum duct length is 18-feet. And a 5-inch diameter sized duct or below isn’t even permitted with a 200-cfm hood and 6-inch flex duct.

range hood vent code requirements

The exception to this section is if the range hood satisfies the requirements of the manufacturer or if you independently test the air flow of the hood with some type of measuring device.

The X marks in the table provided below means that under these conditions a duct is not allowed because of the high pressure drop.

5. Exterior Cover

Range hood vents should always be located on the outside and they need to terminate at least 3-feet away from windows, doors, and other vents such as bathroom fans. I invite you to read my guide on how to vent a range hood on an exterior wall here.

If you have a powered air intake such as from a high efficiency furnace, then the range hood vent needs to be at least 10-feet away. The exception to the 10-foot rule is if the range hood vent is at least 3-feet above the intake vent.

6. Minimum Exhaust Rate Or CFM

The absolute minimum CFM for a kitchen range hood is 100-cfm.

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute and it is a range hood rating for how much air the hood can exhaust every 60-seconds. Most range hoods are in the 150-350 cfm range. Check out my guide on picking CFM for range hoods for details.

range hood vent code requirements

7. Must Use Individual Or Dedicated Branch Circuit

Range hoods need to be supplied by an individual branch circuit.

For higher powered range hoods, a dedicated circuit will be needed.

The minimum cord length will be 18-inches and the maximum cord length is 48-inches. See our guide on choosing the correct breaker size for any home appliance here.

Makeup Air Venting Code Prevents Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The main reason for the makeup air code requirement (code #3 above) for some range hoods is to prevent a carbon monoxide hazard.

If you have a very strong range hood, it will create a large air pressure imbalance in the home (negative air pressure) which can possibly create a backdrafting scenario. 

Backdrafting is when negative air pressure actually reverses the flow of the exhaust gases into the home. If exhaust gases are going into the home rather than to the exterior, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur.

RELATED: Venting Gas Stoves Through The Wall

Makeup Air Should Go Into Kitchen

If you need a makeup air system by code, the ‘makeup’ or fresh air needs to be sent into the kitchen or room where the range hood is located.

The exception to this rule is that it can go into a different room as long as they are connected by a permanent opening.

The type of damper for the makeup air system should work either by gravity (opens and closed based on air flow) or it can be electronically operated. The electric dampers open automatically when the range hood is turned on.

Final Thoughts

The biggest takeaway for range hood code requirements is that they need to vent to the outside. They can’t vent into a crawlspace or an attic.

Also, there are duct requirements for safety such as the length and the type of material used. If you use too small diameter of a duct, it can cause a pressure drop, and create a hazardous situation.

Another important code requirement is for makeup air.

If your range hood is 400-cfm or greater, you may need to install a makeup air system to prevent a dangerous backdrafting situation with carbon monoxide poisoning if you have fuel-burning appliances.

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7 thoughts on “7 Range Hood Vent Codes (2024 Requirements)”

  1. I have a 10″ range hood vent to install. I
    have heard of a double walled pipe system that brings in outside air between the double wall of the pipe for replacement air and then vents out the air through the center pipe exhaust to the exterior. Is this kind of system available?

    Reply
  2. What kind of height is required of a vent hood over a gas range? Does it depend on the # of burners, total BTU output if all burners are on max? Or is it distance to combustible materials .ie cabinets?

    How about width of the hood, say the range is 36″ wide, can the hood be 36″ wide as well, or does it have to be wider say 42″ wide?

    Thanks,
    Nick

    Reply
  3. Arie,

    I understand the requirements as you described them. I am running the vent in between space frame trusses to the outside wall that has a perforated soffit. Instead of drilling a hole through a drivet covered with vertical siding with aluminum trim, I would like to have it vent through the soffit. None of the codes that you describe addresses this situation.

    Reply
  4. The article on Range Hood Vent Codes was very helpful. I just want to clarify: if my cooktop is electric (induction), I can have a hood that is greater than 400 cfm and I DON’T need make up air.

    Reply
    • Hi Elaine,

      The the IRC code is 400-CFM or greater for gas or electric. However, please check with your local building department since it may have a higher limit. The issue is that the range hood can cause other chimney and vent stacks to fail such as from the gas-fired water heater or furnace, so it doesn’t matter if range itself is gas/electric. You can read the IRC code language here.

      Cheers,
      Arie

      Reply

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