A fan in the dark

Trent Ernst, Editor


Over the last few months, our old range hood fan has started to give up the ghost. While the light still works fine, the fan itself was starting to sound like an asthmatic on start up, sputtering and coughing before gearing up to a wheezing hum,

The wife pulled off the filters and discovered the inside of the hood was basically rusted out, too, so instead of trying to fix the fan, an executive decision was made just to replace the whole unit.

We lucked out, finding them on sale at Home Depot in Grande Prairie for 60 percent off the $250 price tag.

While the fans are built in, they are not that difficult to remove. A few screws, a few wires and it pops right out.

Unfortunately, when we went to disconnect the wires, we discovered it was on the same circuit as the kitchen lights. And, with it being in the evening and the sun being down, it was a bit dark to do the work. A flashlight helped rectify the situation, but of the whole experience, lack of light was the most problematic.

The new fan fit nicely into the space left behind by the old. Our system vents out the back, and the stainless steel had a punch for venting both there and out the top. We punched out the vent hole and the wiring hole, and rather quickly we were ready to hook everything back up.

That’s when things started to go … well, wrong is not the correct word. Slower would be more accurate. It took a few minutes longer to hook the electricity back up, which is to be expected, but the real challenge came when we went to attach the fan to the bottom of the cupboard. `

The trouble? Fan design has changed over the years, and the screws no longer lined up.

The new design featured a deadbolt-style system, where you slide the fan up and onto the four screws already installed via holes in each corner that are wider than the screw heads. Then, the fan is pushed back and the holes become slots that are narrower than the head of the screws. You then tighten the four screws, place a fifth (and/or sixth) into the back wall and you are finished. At least, that’s the plan.

In reality, after trying this five or six times, we decided it was far easier to push the range hood into place, then screw it into place. To keep it from sliding out, we placed a fifth screw at the other end of the keyhole to prevent it from slipping forward. Problem solved.

And not a moment too soon as our rechargeable flashlight battery picked that moment to die.

I ran downstairs and flipped the circuit. The kitchen lights began to glow. Flipping on the fan and the hood lights, all is discovered to be in good order. I love it when things work as advertised.

Of course, it might prove to be a very expensive investment. We decided to replace our old off-white range hood with a stainless steel version, which should be less susceptible to rusting. Which sounds all well and fine, but our stove is also an old, off white beast with a dying burner. Already, we are in conversations to replace the stove with something that matches the range hood a bit better.

The new range hid has both a two speed fan (which the old unit had) and two lights, which also have both a low and a high setting (that’s new).

Turning the fan to low, one almost doesn’t believe that it is on, it is so quiet. It is only when the fan is turned to high that any noise is discernible.

The only tools needed where a handful of screwdrivers with different bits. Working on getting the fan in place was awkward, having to lean over the stove and look up. If you are able to, a brace to hold the fan up is a fine idea. In our case, I placed an empty box on the stove and rested my elbows on so I could hold the hood up while Colette screwed it in place. Not elegant, but it worked for us.