In or Out

Installing a new microwave in place of a malfunctioning microwave raises new questions. In our case, questions include whether to vent to the outdoors or to recirculate and filter cooking air into the living space. Because of ongoing and unresolved problems with outside venting in our unit especially, the Board has recommended venting in.

We were prepared to comply. We had hopes of simply resolving our microwave oven and clothes dryer conflict. Living with a sparking , malfunctioning appliance is not a good thing. So venting issues were examined.

How does one seal existing duct work? If not done properly, the old problem of moisture entering would remain. Appliance installers are not equipped to tackle this issue. Electricians claim no involvement. Most handymen we talked to will not attempt this and those who would, have no expertise or experience. An HVAC technician may take on the job, but not the appliance installation or the patching of damaged plaster, walls, paint, etc., which they claim to be part of the process.

As detailed in a New York Times article, venting out is clearly preferred. “Recirculating units are certainly not going to address eliminating all of the problem contaminants and irritants, but they are better than nothing.” There are also health concerns, said Richard Shaughnessy, Ph.D., director of research and manager of the Indoor Air Program at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. “Any time you’re cooking or searing something in a pan, you’re producing ultra-fine particles in the air that are not just particles, but coated with all sorts of other chemicals that you don’t want to be breathing.”

The experts tell us to vent to the outside.

Click here for full New York Times article.


3 responses to “In or Out

  1. How do you vent a microwave? Aren’t they self-contained?

    • Countertop models are self-contained and so only vent into the room. An over-the-range installed microwave serves as a range hood, as well. It will vent either into the room, or if duct work is present, will vent to the outdoors. If I had room for a countertop model, I’d opt for that. HOWEVER, that would not solve the problem of venting the stove as a range hood does. In our very small kitchen, venting is especially important. Cooking products (smoke, fumes, chemicals) pose health hazards. They would also make the smoke detectors go crazy!

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