Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Food for Thought: Exhaust Duct Follies

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot
There was enough congealed grease in that ducting to lube a locomotive

Alarm bells went off in my head when my wife, the Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot asked, "What is all that smoke floating under the ceiling?"  How could that be?  The kitchen exhaust fan was going full blast.

I noticed that the door on the overhead cabinet housing the fan was slightly ajar.  I turned off the fan and closed it.  When I re-started the fan the door popped open again. 


I put my hand into the enclosure and felt a strong blast.  Shreds of duct tape fluttered in the wind.  Repairs were obviously in order.  "This shouldn't be too hard," I thought.  "I'll just rip out the ducting, get some new and re-install it.  How hard could it be?"  

Laughing yet?

There was an amazing amount of grease left on the fan assembly itself, as well as on the exterior exhaust flap. This was a job for industrial grade chemicals. I was hoping the hardware guy would look around furtively, reach under the counter and hand me an unmarked container, warning, "You didn't get this here."  But instead he recommended Krud Kutter

It worked okay but I still spent the next three hours scraping brownish yellow grease from every surface in there. 

Credit Stein / KNKX
Cute as a baby duct

In matters metallic I defer to the expertise of the L&T, so she was in charge of shaping and cutting the ducting.  By paying close attention I learned a little about sheet metal work plus several colorful new expressions.

Working in a frustratingly confined space we wrestled the components into place and sealed them up.  It works fine now with no leakage, vastly improved suction and miraculously, a still intact marriage. 

My Food for Thought pard Nancy Leson pointed out how dangerous all that grease over a stove can be.  I'd realized the same thing, imagining a flare-up reaching into that duct and setting the whole house on fire.

Then she asked me to come over to her house and clean out her own disgusting exhaust ducts.  I demurred. "You couldn't pay me enough. I'm never doing that again."

"Even for a very nice dinner with some really good wine?"                                                              

"Not even if you bought me an electric car."  And I really, really, really want an electric car.    

         "Grease is the only cure for a hangover." – Cameron Diaz                             


Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.