microwave/hood vents

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Hi...
We just had our kitchen remodeled... Took everything down to studs and built back up. We got a GE stove and over-the-stove microwave/vent. We were a bit dismayed when we actually tried the vent - the thing sounds like a plane engine but it won't even draw the steam of a pot boiling *right underneath it*.
We had the GE repair guy out; he said "it's functioning as designed. That'll be $170 for the visit" even though we boiled a pot of water in front of him and showed that the damn thing doesn't suck in the literal sense, just the vernacular sense. We complained to Lowes, where we bought it and they've been great. They tried to at least get GE to drop the $170 visit charge, but GE told Lowes to fuck off.
Our contractor asked around to a couple of people who had the same units, and they said "Yeah, the vent doesn't work for beans; I don't use it."
Lowes has said that they'll give us an extra $170 credit towards whatever we'd like to replace it with to make up for GE being jerks.
The question is are there any microwave/hood vents that actually work for spit, or do you have to trade off? If you have a microwave, are the vents just really ineffectual because the microwave is in the way? We're thinking maybe just getting a dedicated hood vent but then that makes you wonder where to put a microwave.
The Lowes guys just have the spec sheets for units; they didn't have a lot of first-hand experience. According to the spec sheets, anyway, most of the combo units claim the vent moves ~300 cubic feet per minute. At least with the one we've got, the fan out the top may be moving 300 cpm, but it doesn't translate to any draw on the bottom side at all.
We saw just a hood vent at Lowes that was spec'ed at 300 com and it did quite a bit better than what we've got. They also had a unit on the shelf that was rated at ~520 cpm but it wasn't hooked up for demonstration.
How about it? Anyone out there know of any good microwave/hood vent combos? As the Lowes guy said, you can't just call the manufacturers and expect them to tell the truth about their products...
Thanks Mark
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wrote:

Is it vented outside or inside?
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Mark Modrall wrote:

My condo where our daughter lives has a LG one. It's vented outside. Works and pretty quiet.
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Hood vents from BORG and Lowe's; in my experience, have a default venting of inside. One needs to adapt/change the install methods of the vent (RTFM). I've skipped venting outside on mine, because "I" cook mostly outside.
Even so; inside, the vent pulls "steam" from the "bawling" pot!
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"Mark Modrall" wrote

Mark,
I had just installed a GE Profile Microwave/Convection in my place. I don't know the specs on the fan, but it works quite well.
I will tell you, before the microwave is installed, there's a plate over the fan. The fan actually rotates to 3 different positions, depending how you will vent the exhaust. It's very possible, if yours is built the same way, someone may have left the plate intact. Or, they rotated the fan motor the wrong way vs. the way it actually exhausts.
Check the installation here, under "hood exhaust". http://products.geappliances.com/ProdContent/Dispatcher?REQUEST=ITEMID&itemidI-40247
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Yep! I think you hit the nail on the head there.
I have installed two over the stove microwave units. The first was set up to just filter the "hood" air and expel it back into the kitchen and the other is connected to a duct going up to the attic (yeah, I know, it should be run outside but that't for another project).
Neither words quite as well as the dedicated hood they replaced but they definite do the job. Since they are closer to the cooking food the odors don't diffuse as much so that compensates for the lower power.
Bottom line: it sounds like the installer messed up.
Installing them is a PITA but taking one down and putting it back up again shouldn't take much time: the back plate will stay in place and the holes in the cabinet are already in place. It's "smart" to move out the stove first and also to have a strong helper to help "catch" the unit when the screws are taken out.
I think the OP (or the installer) should take the unit off the wall and make sure the "vent" is set up correctly. I suspect the GE guy just checks to see if the motor turns and the "electronics" works; if he didn't take the unit off the wall he would have no way of determining whether it was installed properly.

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Thanks to everyone for their responses.
The unit we bought was a GE Profile Microwave/Convection as well. And we have it venting to the outside through a duct.
We had our contractor do the installation. When we kept complaining about it, he took it down, checked, and re-did the installation 3 times, the last time with GE Support on the phone.
GE support told him that their definition of "success" is when you put the fan on High, put a kleenex up against the vent, the kleenex stays there. By that standard our installation passed, but just barely.
Either way, when we boil a pot of water on the back burners right underneath the vent, *some* of the steam goes in (but hey, it *is* rising directly under the vent) but most just billows out to the back, front, and sides, making it pretty useless.
We called the GE support guy out. He immediately declared it an "installation problem". He spent an hour fiddling. He unhooked the pipe and hooked it back up (not changing anything as far as we could tell - certainly not changing the performance of the fan) and then said it would be $170 because it was an installation problem not an equipment problem.
If he'd found something and fixed it we might have just lumped it, but we demonstrated the lack of function to him. He got caught in this catch-22, saying "it's functioning as designed" and then saying "it's an installation problem" over and over. Getting a $170 bill and having it not work a lick better is the insult to injury.
Since we had this experience we've called around. Found one person with the exact same unit who said that the vent never really worked so she just didn't use it. Found another person (don't remember the type) who said she gets all kinds of mold on the walls and cabinets under her vent because it doesn't suck in the steam either.
We just figured that it was a trade-off; the microwave in the way of the duct diminished the efficacy. Plus, it couldn't fit a big enough fan because of the space the microwave took up.
Have to say I was surprised to see so many people here say "worked fine for them" because we haven't found a local person yet who said that the combo units had a working vent.
By the by, we also found someone who worked for GE. A defective GE microwave burned down his house, and GE told him they wouldn't help him out.
Mark

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"Mark Modrall" wrote

Mark, I don't want to sound as I'm flaming you, but this sounds like total incompetence on the contractor's part. 3X's for an installation? For the contractor having to get phone support, after having installation instructions available, I would've thrown this person out!

Surely he had to find something to indicate it was an installation problem. There only can be a number of things.

Now this sounds like a fish tale, by a disgruntled ex-worker. If in fact, a defective microwave burned down a house, you don't ask for help from GE. You hire a lawyer, which takes them to court.
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On Tue 13 May 2008 05:40:08a, Kirby told us...

Of the several micro/hoods we've owned, two were GE. We had nary a problem with either. Both were vented to the outside. As I mentioned in another post, the best ventilation draw is from pots on the back burner, but it was very effective for those. The unit inherently sets too far back to catch much steam or vapor coming from pots on the front burners. Still, I'd rather have one than a plain hood. Our current micro/hood is a Whirlpool, and it performs just as well as the GE.
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On Tue, 13 May 2008 13:18:07 GMT, Wayne Boatwright

When I was looking for a house to buy back in 1998, I thought I found what I wanted until I found there was no vent to the outside. To correct this problem I would have to use up considerable cupboard space, plus have a long run to the outside. Ideally, the hood/range is mounted on an outside wall.
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Well, ultimately that's why we called the GE tech out. We figured they couldn't possibly sell a unit that did as little as this one did.
The contractor re-read the instructions every time and then called their phone support because it still didn't work for beans. The guy over the phone told the contractor that the kleenex test was their benchmark for working.
The unit vents up through a hose running up through the cabinet above it with one turn to run along the top of the cabinets and one to the hole outside the wall.
The vent outside actually has some air you can see coming out of it but it's definitely not translating to any suction over the range.

His idea of "installation problem" was "it powers on and I hear noise when I turn the fan on", period.
As I said, if he'd found something and fixed it, we might have split the cost with our contractor or something, but after the $170 bill it's still as ineffectual as the day it came out of the box.
If it is an installation problem that could be remedied, fine, but 3x with our contractor and once with the certified GE tech have produced bupkis.
The other people we found with microwave/hoods in the neighborhood have said theirs didn't work well either, but they just gave up on it. We just weren't sure if it was an inherent limitation to the configuration.

Actually I know the guy. The fire nearly killed his daughter and they were out of a home for about 9 months. I think he's retired now, but he was not a fired "disgruntled ex-worker".
The fire marshall was the one who determined the microwave was the cause of the fire.
It is kind of a catch-22 - how many times have you congenially hired a lawyer and taken your employer to court?
-Mark
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"Mark Modrall" wrote

_If_ everything is installed properly, I would say you got a defective unit.
Mine won't suck up a phone book, but it does work quite well.

Before I would pay for the tech for diagnosing it as a "installer problem". The tech would have to point out exactly how s/he came to that conclusion. In other words, what exactly is the problem.

The curiousity is killing me. Did you ask about it before you bought, or after?

As you can see, I never insinuated, the worker was fired.

Actually, I know several people who have taken their employers to court. There's no catch-22 about it. I live with one which started a class action suit involving over 22,000 employees.
_If_ the person had home owner's insurance, insurance companies have the "right of subrogation". The homeowner has absolutely no say in the matter . In this instance, the homeowner had no business "asking for help" from GE, they should seek advice only from their lawyer.
_If_ the person did not have homeowner's insurance, his daughter was almost killed, and he lost his home. He should've gotten the idiot of the year award for not taking his employer to court.
There's not a job in the world, to worry about losing, when it comes to family. I guess my priorities are different than some.
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We did ask that repeatedly... And we demonstrated that his fiddling around hadn't improved anything. His response was "pay the bill or we'll ruin your credit rating."
We're open to it being an installation problem. If it were found and fixed, we wouldn't be so cheesed off.

We asked cursorily if the hood worked well when we were shopping and took it on faith when they said "sure." Turns out, now they say they only read the spec sheets in the store and have no demo units set up. The salesmen say they don't have first-hand experience with the units.
We started asking around the neighborhood in ernest after all this flap.

You never stated as such but obviously I took the inference. The guy was GE lifer. Retired from there.

Yes a lot of people take their employers to court, but I've never heard it considered a good career move.

He did have homeowner's insurance (and for whatever reason the insurer did not choose to go after GE). He thought it was for "replacement cost" but after all the fine print and caps, etc, what the insurance company was going to pay him fell about $50k short of the cost of actually rebuilding the house. Given the fire marshal's report, that's when he asked his employer.
Mark
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If it's ducted with one of those rigid flex hoses, it will restrict air flow, plus not to mention flex hose is not recommended for venting stoves. Also how big is the hose? It should be minimum 6" round. And also approx how long is the run?

Make sure the outside damper moves freely and is not stuck. Also as a test, remove the damper on the microwave and see if it helps air flow. Perhaps the damper is getting stuck.
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In article

The hose run is about 8-9' all told. The duct up from the microwave through the cabinet is solid metal. The hose running along the top of the cabinet seemed pretty flexible - a bit more sturdy than the clothes drier type hose. That hose runs about 7'.

When the GE tech was here, he removed the vent off the top and showed that it's moving air, but the air moving out the top doesn't seem to be translating into suction from the bottom at all.
Not sure which damper on the microwave. As I understand it there are a couple of different settings on the top, and so far everyone's said that those are fine.
Nobody including the GE tech can explain why it doesn't draw anything from the bottom...
Thanks Mark
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Why wasn't rigid duct used? Thats a lot of flex duct that can get dirty with grease and other stuff that can get trapped.

The damper is basically a flapper door that comes with the microwave that you can put on the back or the top , depending on how you are venting the microwave. It prevents outside air coming in. Sometimes if you have a good damper outside, you really don't need the microwave damper as this is just another load that the fan has to push to get the air out.

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i would install a booster fan in the attic, it would go on automatically when the stove fan is turned on.
you can pick the size you want for as much suction as you like, noise will be in attic.
likely the cheapest and best solution
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wrote:

I have a Maytag with a timer fan. It has 5 speeds and is much more powerful than the replaced unit. That was one reason I got this model. The fastest speed does make some noise and quickly moves air, and the lowest speed can barely be heard. I researched the various brands with Consumer Reports before buying. The $170 charge is excessive for a microwave.
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On Mon 12 May 2008 04:48:15a, Phisherman told us...

I've had various brands of these units over the years and never had a ventilation problem. The only downside with a micro/hood combination is that they tend to work best for only the rear burners, since they don't project forward enough to capture everything from the front burners.
Others have suggested several reasons for your unit not pulling air and they are all distinct possibilies. I would scope them all out.
$170 is a totally unreasonable charge for a service call on a brand new unit. It should have been inspected under warrantee.
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Wayne Boatwright
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Mark Modrall wrote:

Does it work any better if you open a window?
Your house may be hermetically sealed.
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