Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
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Kitchen exhaust fans are excellent for keeping the air around your cooktop clean and fresh, but they can also be very loud. If your kitchen extractor fan is so loud that it drowns out your conversation, you may need to perform some maintenance or repairs to fix the underlying issue.
Here’s how to make your kitchen extractor fan quieter:
- Clean your kitchen extractor fan.
- Lubricate the motor.
- Straighten the ductwork.
- Tighten the mounting equipment.
- Insulate your kitchen extractor fan.
- Replace an old fan.
Let’s go into the details so we can fix your kitchen extractor fan together. I will discuss some of the most common issues that can make your fan louder. I’ll also walk you through every step you need to take to make your fan quiet again.
How Loud Should a Kitchen Extractor Fan Be?
Most fans produce some noise, and that is normal. However, if your fan is so loud that you can’t hear other people talking over it, you may have an issue.
So, exactly how loud is too loud? Well, that might take a bit of background information.
The sound of a kitchen exhaust fan is measured in a unit called a sone. The best kitchen extractor fans make anywhere between 4 to 8 sones of sound. In decibels, that’s somewhere between 27 and 58 dB, the standard volume of a conversation.
Depending on how loud your kitchen fan is, you may either need to perform some maintenance and repairs or need to replace your fan.
1. Clean Your Kitchen Extractor Fan
Kitchen extractor fans are prone to grime and debris build ups since they are so close to your stove.
When oil, smoke, dust, and food particles make their way into your kitchen fan, the oil and moisture will cling to its parts, creating large chunks of buildup that could impact the fan’s volume and performance.
Since extractor fans use a motor to spin the fan blades, these deposits can block the blades or motor from turning, causing a clicking, knocking, or loud buzzing sound.
Luckily, this common issue is one of the easiest to fix.
To clean your kitchen extractor fan:
- Unscrew the grill cover that protects your fan to open the inner panel.
- Remove the filter and scrub it clean with warm water, dish soap, and baking soda.
- Use a wet rag and some vinegar or soapy water to wash the grill cover, the inner panel, the fan blades, and the areas around the motor that have dust or grime on them.
- Use a toothbrush or the corner of your rag to scrub the fan blades carefully.
- Use a duster or fine cloth to remove any other debris.
- Replace the grill cover.
Cleaning your fan is a crucial step to making your vent last as long as possible, and it can keep the gunk from clogging up your exhaust fan. Moreover, it helps decrease the noise your fan makes, so clean yours every month or so to keep your kitchen a place of peace.
2. Lubricate the Motor
Every motor needs lubrication to keep it from drying out and getting stiff.
Kitchen fans need special care since they come into contact with so much moisture and other debris that can absorb or melt the lubricant, stripping it from the metal components in your fan.
If your extractor fan needs to be relubricated, you may hear a grinding, squeaking, or deep humming sound when you turn it on.
To relubricate your fan’s motor, you will need some lubricant. I always use this spray-can of WD-40 (available on Amazon.com) to lubricate and clean my fan since it is so easy to apply and lasts a long time. You can use the straw attachment to get the lubricant into the tiny joints in your fan, allowing you to use less product.
So, here’s how to lubricate your fan’s motor:
- Remove the fan’s outer grill panel.
- Clean each fan component with a damp rag to ensure that the lubricant sticks to the metal on your motor.
- Spray or apply your lubricant to the joint where the fan meets the motor, trying to get a bit of oil into the motor.
- Replace the grill cover.
3. Straighten the Ductwork
Kitchen extractor fans use ducts to remove the air from your stovetop.
These long and flexible duct tubes are prone to bending, kinking, or getting scrunched up in your walls or ceilings. When that happens, your fan may get louder since it will take more pressure for your fan to shoot the air out of your home.
Depending on how accessible your duct tubing is, you may be able to fix this issue yourself. If your fan’s duct tubing is accessible in your attic or ceiling crawl space, the job will be straightforward.
To straighten your ductwork:
- Turn off your kitchen fan.
- Find the duct tubing connected to your kitchen extractor fan in your attic, crawlspace, or another area.
- Check for kinks and bends in your tubing, then straighten them out, gently pulling them straight.
- Check for breaks and tears in your tubing to ensure that it is sealed.
- If you find any rips in the duct tubing, use duct tape to close them back up.
- Make sure the connection between your fan and the duct tubing is sealed with duct tape.
4. Tighten the Mounting Equipment
If your kitchen extractor fan’s mounting equipment was not installed properly or has come loose over time, you may need to tighten some screws to reduce its noise.
When the mounting equipment is too loose, your fan will rattle when you turn it on, often causing a rattling, vibrating, or jingling sound.
To tighten your fan’s mounting equipment:
- Remove the outer grill cover from your kitchen fan.
- Use a screwdriver or Allen wrench to tighten all the screws and bolts you see in the fan.
- Ensure that the screws on the fan’s side panels are tight since they connect the unit to your vent hood.
- Make sure the fan blades are straight and tightly secured by trying to shake them gently.
- Replace the grill cover.
If you find anything broken while you tighten the mounting equipment, you may need to purchase a replacement part or a new fan unit.
5. Insulate Your Kitchen Extractor Fan
One way to make a loud fan much quieter is using soundproofing insulation to keep the fan’s vibrations from making too much noise.
You can use materials like Sorbothane rubber or mass-loaded vinyl to add some shock absorption to your fan’s motor if you want to cut down on noises.
I recommend using either Noise Grabber’s Mass Loaded Vinyl (available on Amazon.com) or Isolate It!’s Sorbothane Rubber with 3M adhesive (available on Amazon.com). Both of these products do an excellent job at soundproofing your kitchen fan, and they are simple to apply.
To insulate your kitchen extractor fan:
- Remove your fan’s cover.
- Clean the fan thoroughly to ensure that the adhesive sticks.
- Cut your soundproofing material into 1-inch (2.54 cm) squares.
- Stick the soundproofing material to the inner panel of your fan right next to the motor underneath the fan blades, ensuring that you do not block the edges.
- Turn on your fan to ensure that the soundproofing material does not catch on the fan blades.
- Make any adjustments.
- Replace the grill cover.
6. Replace an Old Fan
If your fan is old or broken, or if none of these other methods work to silence it, you may need to purchase and install a new fan.
When looking for a new fan, look for the sone units listed on the box and try to get one that makes five sones or less when powered on.
Depending on the size of your hood and its location, you may need a different hood. However, I generally recommend the CIARRA CAS75918B Under Cabinet Range Hood from Amazon.com, for people with under-cabinet setups since it is unbelievably quiet while still being efficient.
- Proline Range Hoods: How Many Sones is My Range Hood?
- Georgia State University Hyperphysics: Loudness Units.
- The Kitchn: How To Clean A Greasy Range Hood Filter.
- Hindustan Times: How To Clean A Kitchen Exhaust Fan.
- Eds Kitchen Hood Cleaning: Hood Cleaning Information.
- Manrose: How To Fix a Noisy Extractor Fan?
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