Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Neman: What Are a Few Cuts Compared to a House Fire?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Neman: What Are a Few Cuts Compared to a House Fire?

Article excerpt

My fingers hurt, but at least my house won't burn down.

I spent an unpleasant hour recently cleaning my range hood -- that is, the ventilation system over the stove. It was a bloody chore, literally: I managed to give myself 12 cuts on six fingers. But I'm glad I did it.

I've done it before (including the cuts, unfortunately), and I'll do it again.

Here's the reason in a nutshell: Hoods collect grease. Hoods are over hot stoves. If the grease in a pan catches fire -- a minor event, and not infrequent -- those flames can catch the grease in your hood on fire. That's when a minor event becomes major.

It happens to restaurants all the time. A pan catches fire (or the food in it is intentionally flamed) and the fire spreads to the hood. The hood, which is on, sucks both the flames and a lot of oxygen into the ventilation ducts, essentially causing a firestorm to rage inside the walls.

Admittedly, a residential kitchen is not in the same league as a commercial one. The stove in a restaurant gets much hotter, and the restaurant hood is much stronger and gets much greasier.

But the threat still exists at home.

Your vent doesn't just suck the cooking odors out of the kitchen (or, with an open-concept design, out of the entire house). It also sucks up vaporized grease from the oil, the butter, the fat and the shortening that you cook with.

The filter on the vent does a good job of capturing that grease before it is expelled outside -- or, often, back into the kitchen. But the more grease that accumulates on the filter, the less effective it becomes.

Not only does an ineffective filter lead to more odor in the kitchen (or the house), it also leads to vaporized grease landing everywhere else in the kitchen.

So the filter or filters should be thoroughly cleaned. With some brands, they can be cleaned in the dishwasher; it is really wonderfully convenient. …

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