VICTORIA | OAK HOUSE

HOOD FAN FUN

When we removed our upper cabinets in December, we also removed our under cabinet hood fan — oops! That was unintentional; we thought it was attached to the wall, but it came tumbling down. Picture Pierre through gritted teeth and under the weight of two cabinets and a hood fan, “Cut the wire!” Me insisting I had to run downstairs and hit the breaker before I was going to cut anything. Frankie sleeps on.

Thus began our search for a new hood fan. We had just removed our upper cabinets (and given them away) so we were pretty sure we wanted to go with a chimney-style hood fan. I was open to another under cabinet-style hood fan, with a shelf on top so that the fan could be mounted to something — that might have been the cheaper/easier option — but Pierre really pictured a dramatic chimney hood fan and he so rarely puts his foot down about anything house-related, so I got on board. I’ve never shopped for a hood fan before (our old house had an over-the-range microwave), but found one that I loved right away.

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The Venmar Ispira IC700 is made in Canada and you can choose from eight colour options for the front panel. The coloured front panels are sold separately, so for about $100 I can change my mind about the colour — kind of a nice option. The front panel is a glass touch-screen, just like our stove, so even though the chimney is stainless steel (and not white like the rest of our appliances), I thought it would work. (The giant piece of art that we had framed for the kitchen has a brushed silver frame to help tie it all together, too.) Plus, how could I resist a julep-green hood fan? I could not.

I drove all the way out to Trail Appliances in Langford to check this beauty out in person. Frankie was refusing to nap so I thought a 30 minute car ride would knock her out. It did not. It was okay, though. She had great fun pointing at all the stoves and saying, “Hot. Hot. Hot.” One of the reasons I wanted to see the fan in person was to confirm that it was a direct-wire. Our old fan had been direct wire, but a lot of the newer ones are plug-in. I was hoping to find something compatible with the electrical that we already had. The model in the showroom was plug-in, but the sales rep assured me that was only for their sake — that they got special “showroom versions” that allowed them to swap display models easily and that the one I would receive would be direct-wire. That seemed like a plausible explanation to me, so I placed our (non-returnable) order.

The hood fan arrived a few weeks later and I called in the handyman who had installed our dishwasher. He said he could install the fan in an hour, no problem, $50. About 30 minutes before he was supposed to arrive, I got Frankie settled on the couch with some Little Baby Bum and started opening the boxes in the den, thinking I’d pull the instruction manual out for him and just get things organized. The first thing I noticed was the plug. BUT, I figured, he’s a handyman and I’m super enthusiastic, we’ll sort this out. The plug, as it turned out, was a bit of a pain, but not really a big problem.

The big problem was the eency weency bracket on which to hang the hood fan that Venmar provided. It was only 8″ long — not wide enough to span two studs in even a well-built house. Doug said he wouldn’t feel confident that the whole fan wouldn’t come off the wall if he mounted that directly to the drywall, especially as we didn’t have even one stud in a place that would allow our fan to be centred over our stove. He said he would recommend a plywood backing mounted to the studs behind our drywall and drilling into that. Guess what? That’s exactly what the Venmar installation instructions say to do — build a wood backing behind your drywall to support this tiny bracket and hood fan. Like, whatSince when is re-drywalling your kitchen part of a normal hood fan installation? Should I be surprised at this point? This is Oak House we’re talking about, after all.

Luckily we had some other gaping holes in the drywall in the kitchen that Doug said he could fix, no problem, at the same time. (Don’t you just love when contractors use those two words, “No problem”? I sure do.) Off he went to buy supplies.

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I mean… bye, bye to my paint job, but hello no more wall wounds! He also converted that dangling direct wire to a plug, which is now hidden by the chimney of the hood fan. And we are so thrilled (am I allowed to be thrilled about drywall?) to have a huge patch behind our stove. Our electrician cut away so much drywall in order to give us a plug for a new stove and we’ve been able to feel cold air gushing in — not awesome when your first “winter” heating bill was $700. (Replacing that electric furnace might get pushed to “emergency” status in 2018. In the meantime, we’re trying to seal all the holes!)

The holes were so large, Doug waited almost a full week before coming back to give them a good sand and apply a second coat of mud. I sanded the second coat and decided not to apply a third coat. We were very happy that the walls were walls again, but also cognizant of the fact that almost all of the patches would be covered by something, whether it be the hood fan, the giant piece of art we picked out or trim. I cleaned up all the dust, reprimed and repainted, bought a plate to close off the octagon box and called Doug back to install the hood fan.

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After a slow start to 2018 (we took all of January off with regards to home projects) things are really picking up steam (and now I have a hood fan to deal with all that steam… no?). I got three major things ticked off while Pierre was away this week — art up in the kitchen, hood fan up in the kitchen and drywall up in the den! Excited to get trim up in the kitchen and am about to order a magnetic knife rack to realize my ultimate goal of having nothing on the kitchen counter.

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