Home Improvement

Ask the Remodeler: Replacing a dirty exhaust fan

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Q. My old fan doesn’t work well at removing odors. How do I really clean the 10-foot-long pipe that vents to the outside before I install a new fan? I use propane, so this is very important.


A. There are many duct-cleaning services in the Boston area that can handle all types of ducts, whether it is a range hood, bath fan, or boiler. I would call one of them, and when choosing a new fan, be sure that it has adequate power relative to your range. A hood that goes to 500 cubic feet per minute on its highest setting is pretty common. I am not sure what type of fan/hood you have, but typically the first step is to clean the filter, which should be inside the unit and easy to get at. How often you have the ducts cleaned is relative to the type of cooking you do. Lots of stir-frying, for example, will clog the filter and lines quicker than most cooking techniques. Have the duct-cleaning service check the hood on the exterior of the house to be sure it is operating properly — or worse, to see whether a bird has built a nest in there. It happens more often than you may think.


Q. I have an outdoor light over my front door. It has a frosted-glass globe with a segmented applied grid. I would like to shed more light on my door without lighting up the whole neighborhood. Is it possible to remove the frosting from part of the globe?


A. Have you tried a higher wattage bulb? It is highly unlikely you will be able to remove the frosted finish off the glass in any way.

Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to [email protected]. Questions are subject to editing. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. Follow us on Twitter @globehomes.


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