Are Range Hoods Required By Code?

Last Updated: 6/5/2024

Author: James Zhao, Sr. Tech Specialist & Alex Park, Product Specialist

Are you redesigning your kitchen and considering installing some new appliances but are unsure if there are state-regulated requirements? For example, are range hoods required by code?

In this blog, we address the pressing question of whether a range hood is a necessity for your kitchen and peel back additional layers of info surrounding range hood codes. We also reveal the surprising benefits of having one, even if it's not mandated by government regulations.

If you know that you live in a state that mandates range hoods, then Fotile is going to become your new favorite kitchen appliance retailer. Fotile’s collection of innovative range hoods comes in four different series of styles and are built with innovative technology. These range hoods are designed to operate at incredibly quiet noise levels but can maintain a CFM of up to 1000.

 So, whether you're pondering compliance with building regulations or contemplating an upgrade to your kitchen's air quality, shop the collection of range hoods from Fotile today.

Who Determines Range Hood Codes?

The International Code Council (ICC) takes the lead in shaping range hood codes and regulations. As the governing body for building codes, the ICC assumes the responsibility of ensuring the safety and functionality of products, including range hoods, for commercial and residential buildings.

To achieve this, the ICC maintains a dynamic approach by continuously revising its guidelines for ventilation requirements every three years to align with the latest advancements in technology, materials, and construction methods. This ensures that range hood standards stay up-to-date and effective in meeting industry needs and ensuring home safety.

Building Codes That Impact Range Hoods

When it comes to range hoods, two significant building codes ensure their proper functioning and safety: the International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Mechanical Code (IMC). These codes are the bedrock of regulatory standards governing the design, installation, and maintenance of range hoods, setting the bar for kitchen ventilation excellence.

The International Residential Code

The IRC lays down essential standards for residential construction, covering various aspects, including mechanical systems like range hoods. Its primary objective is crystal clear: to guarantee that range hoods are designed, installed, and maintained correctly. This ensures that they provide adequate ventilation, thereby safeguarding the health and well-being of the occupants of the home or restaurant kitchen.

Specific requirements outlined in the IRC cover aspects such as the size of the range hood in relation to the cooking area, the minimum airflow rate necessary for effective ventilation, and the precise location and installation of the range hood. Additionally, it mandates the use of appropriate ductwork and exhaust fans so the range hood functions optimally and effectively remove smoke, steam, and cooking odors from your kitchen.

The International Mechanical Code

Conversely, the IMC focuses exclusively on mechanical systems and equipment, including ventilation systems like range hoods. This code provides guidelines that contractors and builders must strictly adhere to during the entire lifecycle of these systems, from design and installation to routine maintenance.

The IMC places particular emphasis on the installation and maintenance of ductless or ducted range hoods, ensuring they comply with safety standards and promoting the use of fire suppression systems in commercial kitchens and high-powered cooking environments.

National Range Hood Requirements

Proper installation and compliance with national range hood requirements are crucial for ensuring safety, efficiency, and effective ventilation in residential and commercial kitchens. These regulations are outlined in codes like the International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Mechanical Code (IMC), which focus on maintaining optimal indoor air quality and preventing fire hazards. 

Let’s delve into the specific code requirements for residential and commercial range hoods.

Residential Range Hood Code Requirements

In residential environments, the International Residential Code (IRC) provides guidelines to ensure that range hoods are installed correctly and function efficiently. While not all residential buildings are mandated to have range hoods, when they are present, they must comply with the following standards:

  • Ventilation to the Outdoors (IRC M1503.1): Residential range hoods should vent to the outside to effectively expel smoke, grease, and cooking odors, maintaining the home's air quality. This requirement is crucial for preventing the recirculation of contaminants within the home.
  • Duct Material and Construction (IRC M1503.2): The ducts should be constructed from noncombustible materials like galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper, ensuring durability and resistance to grease buildup. The code mandates smooth interior duct surfaces to facilitate unobstructed airflow and prevent fire hazards.
  • Airflow Rate (IRC M1503.3): The minimum airflow rate for residential range hoods is typically determined by the size of the cooking surface and the type of cooking appliances used, ensuring the effective removal of contaminants.
  • Installation Height Above Cooktop (IRC M1506.2): The code specifies the minimum and maximum installation heights of the hood above the cooking surface, optimizing the hood's efficiency in capturing pollutants while maintaining user safety.
  • Makeup Air Requirements (IRC M1503.4): For hoods with a certain CFM (cubic feet per minute) output, typically over 400 CFM, there are specifications for a makeup air system to compensate for the air exhausted to the outside, preventing negative pressure scenarios that could impact the home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Commercial Range Hood Code Requirements

Commercial kitchens, including restaurants, cafeterias, and other food service establishments, are subject to stringent requirements due to the higher volume of cooking and the associated risks. The International Mechanical Code (IMC) outlines these requirements, which include:

  • Type I and Type II Hoods (IMC 507.2 & 507.3): Commercial kitchens must use Type I hoods for equipment producing grease-laden vapors and Type II hoods for equipment emitting steam and odors. The specifications ensure that the hoods are suitable for the cooking operations being performed.
  • Fire Suppression Systems (IMC 904): The code mandates that commercial hoods, especially Type I, are equipped with automatic fire suppression systems to quickly address fires, protecting the establishment and its occupants.
  • Outdoor Venting (IMC 506.3.10): Consistent with residential codes but more stringent, commercial hoods must vent outdoors through ducts that meet specific material, size, and design criteria, ensuring effective removal of hazardous contaminants and compliance with fire safety standards.
  • Hood Size and Capture Area (IMC 507.2.1): Detailed specifications are provided for the minimum overhang of the hood beyond the cooking equipment, ensuring complete capture and containment of cooking effluents and minimizing the risk of grease buildup and potential fires.
  • Maintenance and Cleaning (IMC 506.3.1): Recognizing the critical nature of cleanliness in commercial hoods, the code mandates regular inspection, cleaning, and maintenance schedules to prevent grease accumulation, which is a significant fire hazard.

State vs. Local Range Hood Requirements

While national codes provide a broad framework, state and local regulations can impose additional or more stringent requirements. Importantly, some states explicitly require the installation of a range hood. Let’s explore these mandates in detail.

What States Are Range Hoods Required By Code?

Several states have adopted codes that go beyond the recommendations of national standards, requiring the installation of range hoods in both residential and commercial kitchens to ensure effective ventilation and mitigate hazards associated with cooking.

1. California

  • Mandate: California mandates range hoods in residential kitchens, especially those producing 100 CFM or more intermittently or achieving 5 air exchanges per hour, applicable to all homes, including remodeled spaces and larger residential areas.
  • Key Requirements: Installation must ensure that the hood discharges outdoors, adhering to California's stringent standards for indoor air quality and energy efficiency as detailed in the California Building Code and Title 24 energy regulations.

2. New York:

  • Mandate: The building code in New York requires the installation of range hoods in both new and renovated kitchen spaces. New York requires that range hoods installed in kitchens must be capable of moving at least 100 CFM intermittently or 25 CFM continuously, with a clear directive that the hoods must vent to the outdoors, ensuring effective expulsion of indoor pollutants.
  • Installation Specifications: The ductwork should have a smooth interior, be airtight, come equipped with a back-draft damper, and be independent of other exhaust systems, preventing any termination in enclosed spaces like attics or crawl spaces.

3. Massachusetts

  • Mandate: The Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR) mandates the installation of range hoods in residential kitchens. The state mandates that kitchens must have a range hood capable of providing at least 100 CFM intermittently or 25 CFM continuously, ensuring adequate ventilation to maintain indoor air quality.
  • Ventilation Standards: In the states of Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, and Virginia, it's required that your range hood is installed no less than 24 inches above the cooktop. For optimal effectiveness, it is advisable to position the hood at a distance ranging from 28 to 36 inches above the cooking surface.

4. Texas:

  • Mandate: Texas requires commercial kitchens to have range hoods, with residential kitchens needing to meet minimum ventilation standards. While ductless models are an exception, the emphasis is on ensuring that any installed range hood or exhaust system vents directly to the outdoors.
  • CFM Requirements: Kitchens must be vented with a minimum of 25 CFM continuously or 100 CFM intermittently.

5. Florida:

  • Mandate: Similar to Texas, Florida mandates ducted range hoods in commercial settings, with allowances for ductless hoods in residential areas. The primary goal is to ensure that kitchens are equipped with adequate ventilation systems to maintain safe indoor air quality.
  • Ventilation and Ducting Rules: Ensuring that the air is vented outdoors is paramount, with specific CFM guidelines to maintain the efficiency and safety of the kitchen environment.

6. Virginia:

  • Mandate: In Virginia, commercial environments are required to have range hoods as per the IMC standards, with residential areas not mandated but recommended to have proper ventilation systems.
  • Material and Venting Requirements: The state specifies that ductwork, whether in a residential or commercial setting, should be made from materials like stainless steel, copper, aluminum, or galvanized steel, ensuring durability and safety in venting out kitchen pollutants.

Range Hood Requirements For Electric Stoves

Now, you might wonder if electric stoves require range hoods. In general, an electric stove produces less heat, grease, and smoke compared to a gas stove. The specific requirement is that a range hood is necessary if the stove produces less than five micrograms of grease when tested at 500 cubic feet per minute (CFM). 

Installing a range hood or other exhaust systems over your electric stove ensures clean and fresh air in your kitchen, even if you're not dealing with high levels of pollutants.

What Happens If You’re Not Compliant

Failure to comply with range hood building codes can result in a variety of serious consequences, including fire hazards and decreased property value. Here's a more detailed look at the potential risks associated with non-compliance with range hood codes:

Legal Consequences

Non-compliance with code requirements can expose homeowners and contractors to legal action. In cases where someone is harmed or experiences health issues due to inadequate ventilation, legal liabilities may arise. This could lead to costly legal fees, court appearances, and potential lawsuits.

Fire Hazards

One of the primary purposes of range hood codes is to reduce the risk of fire hazards in the kitchen. If range hood installation is improper or non-compliant, it can significantly increase the risk of fires. Range hoods are designed to capture and remove grease, smoke, and other particles produced during cooking, reducing the risk of fires. 

However, when range hoods do not meet code requirements, they may fail to effectively capture these particles, leading to grease buildup in the kitchen. This can be especially dangerous if the grease accumulates near the cooking surface or heat sources, such as stove burners.

Denied Insurance Coverage

Failure to comply with range hood code requirements can result in insurance coverage being denied in the event of damages or accidents related to inadequate ventilation. Insurance companies typically require homeowners and businesses to adhere to building codes to qualify for coverage. 

If non-compliance is discovered after a claim is filed, it can lead to denied coverage, leaving the homeowner or business responsible for costly repairs or legal claims. It is essential to ensure that your range hood installation complies with local, state, and national codes to avoid the risk of voided insurance policies.

Decreased Property Value

Non-compliance with range hood codes can negatively impact the value of your property. Potential buyers and real estate agents increasingly prioritize proper ventilation and building code compliance when evaluating properties. A home that does not meet code requirements may be seen as a liability rather than an asset. 

Additionally, if you plan to sell your property in the future, you may be required to bring it up to code before completing the sale. This can result in additional expenses and delays in the selling process. Therefore, compliance with range hood code requirements is essential to maintain the value of your property and ensure a smooth sale when the time comes.

Range Hood Code Violations to Avoid

To ensure full compliance with range hood codes, it's essential to steer clear of common violations that can jeopardize the effectiveness and safety of your kitchen ventilation system. Here are specific range hood code violations to be aware of:

  • Incorrect Installation Height: Installing ducted or ductless range hoods at the wrong height can impact their ability to effectively ventilate your cooking area. Range hoods should be positioned at the appropriate height to capture smoke, steam, and cooking odors efficiently. Failing to do so can result in inadequate ventilation and reduced air quality in your kitchen.
  • Improper Duct Materials: Range hood ducts should be constructed using materials approved by local building codes. These materials typically include galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper. Using improper duct materials, such as flexible plastic, can lead to issues like the accumulation of grease and debris within the ducts.

    Moreover, these materials may not withstand the high temperatures and moisture levels generated during range hood operation.
  • Lack of a Fire Suppression System: In commercial kitchens or residential kitchens equipped with high-powered cooking appliances, building codes often require the installation of fire suppression systems. These systems, such as automatic fire extinguishers or sprinkler systems, are essential for quickly containing and extinguishing fires that may occur within or near the range hood.

    Neglecting to include a fire suppression system can put your kitchen at a higher risk of fire-related accidents and damage.
  • Inadequate Makeup Air Systems: Makeup air refers to the replacement air that enters your kitchen to compensate for the air exhausted by the range hood. Without a sufficient makeup air system, the exhaust fan can create negative pressure inside the kitchen. This can lead to problems like back-drafting and the accumulation of harmful gasses like carbon monoxide.

    Compliance with makeup air requirements is crucial in tightly sealed homes or buildings to maintain proper indoor air quality and prevent hazardous conditions.

Benefits of Installing a Range Hood

While codes dictate the necessity of range hoods, there are plenty of reasons to consider installing one, even if not required by code. These benefits include:

  • Improved Indoor Air Quality: Range hoods effectively remove cooking fumes and pollutants, enhancing the air quality in your kitchen.
  • Energy Savings: Proper ventilation can reduce the workload on your HVAC system, saving energy and extending its lifespan.
  • Enhanced Kitchen Comfort: A range hood keeps your kitchen environment pleasant by removing heat, steam, and particles.
  • Increased Home Value: Compliant range hoods can make your home more attractive to buyers and increase its resale value.

Ensure Compliance With a Range Hood From Fotile

Range hoods are indeed a necessity as per the guidelines set forth by the IRC and IMC. Yet, their significance extends beyond compliance with codes. Installing a range hood, whether required or not, can substantially enhance your kitchen environment.

For a wide range of exceptional range hood options that seamlessly blend functionality, style, and innovation, look no further than Fotile. 

Explore our Pixie Air Series, Slant Vent Series, or Perimeter Vent Series today to elevate both your cooking experience and your home's air quality while remaining compliant.