High spec fans and low rent vents
Last week I covered the effect of porous bathroom and kitchen tiles on your silicone, buying second-hand kitchens, keeping pipes hidden but accessible, and keeping window glass ventilated from inside. This week I’ll discuss fans and cooker hoods.
You can spend over £500 on a cooker hood if you really want, and yes more expensive hoods may be more powerful, but they all do a similar job, so for anything other than a very high-end flat, why would you? I got a perfectly good stainless steel one for £45 from Ikea. With fans on the other hand, I believe in spending a bit more money. Vent Axia are near-bulletproof and go on forever. My father has two in his house dating from the late 1970s. They get used every day and have never failed.
The crucial thing with hoods, if you can, is to throw away the charcoal filter that comes with them and vent them properly to the outside. Filters quickly clog with grease and need replacement every 3 months or so. Are you or your tenants really going to do that? Yet if it gets neglected airborne particles will form greasy deposits on all the interior surfaces in the flat and stain your paintwork. Venting cookers can be tricky, particularly in properties where the cooker may not be on an outside wall. But it’s even more worth it when you consider that building regulations will accept only a 100 mm vent if directly above the cooker in a hood. Otherwise, they will require a much larger and more expensive 150 mm vent, even if it’s very close to the cooker.
While we’re on vents, if you’re using cheap builders then I strongly suggest you check they do actually vent the flues to the outside. A landlord friend’s tenants were complaining that the roof was leaking. He couldn’t understand as it was a brand new conversion to flats, and the building inspector had just signed off all the work. As soon as I went into the loft I could see there was a problem. Everything was wringing wet and covered in a film of blue-grey mould. Water was dripping through the kitchen ceiling. The cause? Condensation! The builders had vented both the kitchen and bathroom fans directly into the loft. As soon as the warm damp air hit the cold roof, it condensed out and soaked everything. Because building inspectors don’t normally even go into lofts (grrrr!) he hadn’t seen the botch they’d made. I sorted the problem in a few hours with some flexible ducting, four long jubilee clips, and two special flue tiles which fit onto the roof. It beggars belief that anyone calling themselves a builder would do anything so crass, but I guess some people don’t care about repeat business. Also some landlords cut corners when they really shouldn’t, but often you get what you pay for.
A quick word on lights while I’m at it: I don’t like downlighters because most of the energy doesn’t produce light for the room, but heat to the ceiling above! So expensive and not very green. Also tenants won’t change or pay for the bulbs and keep calling you out. Without a working bulb to dry them out they go rusty in a cold upper floor ceiling and look terrible. Sometimes they remove them completely leaving holes – I don’t know why. They can be impossible to match up again. Short pendants, and wall-mounted uplighters for atmosphere, are better I think.
I’ll consider different types of taps next week.