What is a Vent?
A vent is a hole or opening made in the floor of your home where hot air can escape from your microwave oven. A vent allows heat to escape out of the bottom of your microwave oven which helps keep it cool during cooking. Some people prefer not to use vents, but some people like them because they are able to cook food faster without having to wait until they reach room temperature before eating. There are many different types of vents available. Some allow hot air to exit while others don’t.
There are two main types of vents available, those that let hot air out and those that don’t. They both work in the same way, however there are differences between each type.
Vent Types That Let Hot Air Out
These vent openings open up at the top so hot air can escape out of your microwave oven. These vents are usually located near the door of your microwave. You may want to consider using these vents if you are concerned about overheating your kitchen.
Vent Types That Don’t Allow Hot Air To Exist
If you don’t want hot air to enter your microwave, then you will need to vent your microwave with a fan. If you have a convection (fan) style oven, then you can use one of these fans instead of venting the whole thing. These fans bring in cold air from outdoors and blow out hot air from your oven. You can also buy external fans that sit near your microwave and blow out hot air. These fans are not as efficient as the convection type ones.
How To Vent a Stand Alone Microwave
If you have a stand alone microwave, then you will need to vent it directly.
The most common type of vent is a duct style vent that attaches to the back or side of your microwave. You can find these types of vents at your local hardware store or on the internet. These are made out of aluminum and come in various sizes. In order to size your vent, you need to measure the exhaust area of your microwave (usually 1.5 – 2 inches) and then order a vent with a larger diameter that will fit securely on your microwave.
It is important that the fit is secure since vents can be quite heavy once they are loaded up with hot air.
After you have the new vent, you are ready to install it. Please follow the installation instructions included with your vent. Once you have installed the vent, all you need to do is hook it up to your exhaust system. This is usually a 4″ diameter pipe that exits your home. The pipe is usually painted black to match the rest of the exhaust system.
You may have to snake the pipe through a wall to get it outside. Don’t be afraid to make the hole bigger if you have to since you can always patch it later. Once the pipe is outside, all you need to do is hook up the vent to it with a 4″ PVC connector and you are finished.
You may want to consider sealing up the hole in your wall with some spray foam insulation to make your kitchen a little less drafty.
Venting with a window type vent is very similar to vented style ovens.
Vent Types That Don’t Exist, But Should
There are no vented microwaves on the market that will allow you to do what you want. You will need to vent your microwave into a room or your garage. If this is the case, then you can either vent it into your kitchen or living room. Either way, you are going to have to do quite a bit of work since most homes are not setup to handle this type of thing. If you choose to vent it into your kitchen, then you will need to snake the oven pipe through a wall and into your living room.
You can patch the hole in the wall later with spay foam insulation and paint over it. If you choose to vent it into your living room (like I did), then you should consider this project as permanent. I don’t think I should have to tell you this, but be careful while you are working on the pipe. It is not uncommon for people to get distracted and forget that the pipe is over an area that has the potential of containing a person. You wouldn’t want someone (or something) to get hurt would you?
If you choose to vent your microwave into your kitchen like I did, then you have two different options on where to vent it. The first option is to vent it out a window. The window you choose doesn’t really matter (as long as it exists), but I would try to pick one that is not in direct sight of anyone close by. If you have a choice of windows in a seldom used room like a guest bedroom, then that would be perfect.
The second and less desireable option is to vent it through the wall into an adjacent unused room. If this is the case, you need to snake the pipe through an outside wall and into the room of your choice. As with the alternative, I would patch the hole later with spray foam and paint over it.
When you are venting a microwave in a room that will not be in daily use, you must vent it directly upward. This is to prevent the spread of radiation into a room that may be occupied. Of course, you are doing this project yourself and should already know this, but I had to include this warning in the instructions somewhere.
Once you have decided where you want to vent your microwave, you need to construct the pipe. You need to cut a hole in your wall as big as your pipe is going to be. This needs to be as accurate as possible, so I would measure it several times before cutting. If you don’t have a hack saw to do this, I highly recommend using a jig saw. When you cut the hole in the wall, make sure you are wearing your protective gloves and turn your back to the wall when cutting.
You don’t want any accidents with a spinning blade.
After you have cut the hole in your wall, you need to snake the pipe through it. If you are venting into a kitchen, I would highly recommend doing this at night so that if any grease gets on anything it won’t get on people eating at the table. I’m not sure if microwaves give off grease while in operation, but I like to play it safe.
Once the pipe is through the wall, you may need to do some adjusting.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Non-contact measurement of heart and respiration rates with a single-chip microwave doppler radar (AD Droitcour – 2006 – Citeseer)
- Shroud to cover dish in microwave oven (R Hanlon – US Patent 4,801,773, 1989 – Google Patents)
- Microwave pressure cooker (AE Welch – US Patent 2,622,187, 1952 – Google Patents)
- Microwave Instruments: Green machines for green chemistry? (EP Zovinka, AE Stock – Journal of Chemical Education, 2010 – ACS Publications)
- Vented food cooking system for microwave ovens (W Berkoff – US Patent 5,387,781, 1995 – Google Patents)