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Why Is Range Hood Making Noise When Windy

While very useful, I find range hoods to be obnoxiously loud when they are operating and doing their job. So, for them to start making a noise when they are off is just rude, particularly when the wind is howling outside as well.

There is good news for all of us suffering from the effects of a noisy range hood on windy days and nights. While there are a number of possible problems, they are all closely related with easy and overlapping solutions.


Range hoods make noise when it’s windy if there is no backdraft damper or if the damper is somehow compromised. Wind entering the duct from outside causes rattling. Wind can also pick up the damper flaps and drop them again, causing a banging.

Two Main Types of Noise

Range hoods that are making a noise when it’s windy are typically either rattling or banging (or both).

Rattling-type noises are the result of outside air blowing into the duct through the external vent. This air comes in gusts and creates a turbulent airflow within the ventilation system, made worse by any bends in the ductwork.

Turbulent airflow bumps against the sides of the ducts, causing them to vibrate and rattle. The rattling is carried through the system and out of the range hood.

Banging noises are the result of incorrectly functioning backdraft dampers. These are equipped with flaps that can, in certain circumstances, be picked up and dropped by the wind, causing them to bang closed.

The following video clearly demonstrates this (but turn the volume down, as the sound is quite loud).

Explaining Backdraft Dampers

The backdraft damper that I mentioned before is a device used to allow air to travel through the ducts in only one direction, namely outward.

The idea is to prevent exhausted air from just blowing back into the house and also to keep outside air from entering the house as this creates noise and can also create annoying drafts.

Metal flaps with one-way hinges and various operating mechanisms are what allow backdraft dampers to perform this function.

Dampers can be installed where the vent terminates, as seen in the video above, behind the range hood, or in-line along the ductwork. Sometimes there is more than one.

Rangehood ductwork connected to a vent on the roof with possible locations of backdraft damper illustration

They can be gravity-operated (like the one in the video), spring-operated, or electrically-operated.

My personal preference is an in-line spring-operated backdraft damper:

  • They are less affected by wind blowing past and against roofs and walls because they are not sitting flush with the outside of the house.
  • They stop the rattling better than dampers located behind the range hood because by the time these backdraft dampers stop the wind, it has already rattled through the ductwork.
  • The fact that the flaps are held closed by spring tension, means that only really strong winds have the potential to pick them up and drop them to cause banging.

I would specifically recommend the AC Infinity spring-operated backdraft dampers if you have round range hood ducts.

AC Infinity 4" Backdraft Damper, One-Way Airflow Ducting Insert with Spring-Loaded Folding Blades for 4” Ducting in Range Hoods and Bathrooms Fans
  • An antidraft duct insert designed for use with range hoods, bathroom fans and other home HVAC applications.
  • Features outer rubber gaskets that create an airtight seal and grip between the damper and ducts.
  • Mounts horizontally or vertically to prevent backflow and debris from entering ducting.
  • Galvanized steel body with spring-loaded aluminum damper blades that open with minimal airflow.
AC Infinity 6" Backdraft Damper, One-Way Airflow Ducting Insert with Spring-Loaded Folding Blades for 6” Ducting in Range Hoods and Bathrooms Fans
  • An antidraft duct insert designed for use with range hoods, bathroom fans and other home HVAC applications.
  • Features outer rubber gaskets that create an airtight seal and grip between the damper and ducts.
  • Mounts horizontally or vertically to prevent backflow and debris from entering ducting.
  • Galvanized steel body with spring-loaded aluminum damper blades that open with minimal airflow.
AC Infinity 8” Backdraft Damper, One-Way Airflow Ducting Insert with Spring-Loaded Folding Blades for 8” Ducting in Range Hoods and Bathrooms Fans
  • An antidraft duct insert designed for use with range hoods, bathroom fans and other home HVAC applications.
  • Features outer rubber gaskets that create an airtight seal and grip between the damper and ducts.
  • Mounts horizontally or vertically to prevent backflow and debris from entering ducting.
  • Galvanized steel body with spring-loaded aluminum damper blades that open with minimal airflow.

Last update on 2024-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rattling Caused By Non-Compliance

We’ve all heard of building codes. They control the safety of construction and infrastructure.

When it comes to houses in the USA, we look to the International Residential Codes (IRC), which are generalized, and the the local building codes, which are based on the IRC.

According to Section M1503.3 of the IRC, vented range hoods must be equipped with backdraft dampers.

Range hoods don’t just remove hot air, like bathroom fans for which dampers are optional. They also remove grease, smoke, and various other by-products of the cooking process, which can negatively impact indoor air quality.

This is why it’s really important to stop the air from blowing back into the house.

If the rattling noise heard through your range hood ventilation system is caused by wind blowing freely through the ducts because there is no backdraft damper, then the issue is non-compliance.

You need to install a backdraft damper to solve the problem.

Video demonstrating how to properly install a backdraft damper
Demonstration of installation behind extraction device (please note that the damper might need to be secured better or sealed around in order to fully stop backdrafts).
This video shows that you can install the dampers along the duct system. However, there are a few issues with this specific setup, including the fact that duct tape is not acceptable for use on ducts. Use this video only to see that you can separate ducts, install the damper, and then reconnect them.

Tips to make it a successful solution:

  • Choose a high-quality backdraft damper made of good materials
  • Make sure it is the right size for the ducts
  • Make sure it is installed correctly

Backdraft Dampers Can Break

Backdraft damper flaps can crack, chip, and warp over time as a result of wear and tear, production defaults, shipping/handling damage, or incorrect installation.

If this happens, the solution is to replace the damper.

Another way that they can break is if the operating mechanism fails. Wear and tear, production defaults, and shipping/handling damage can negatively impact all the mechanisms.

The last video above demonstrates the loss of spring tension that can occur over time.

In addition, electrically-operated dampers can suffer from the effects of power surges, exposure to water, and wire damage.

If the operating mechanism fails, the solution is also to replace the damper.

Obstructions to the Flaps

Sometimes, the flaps are simply unable to close properly because of some kind of obstruction.

This could be a buildup of dirt or grease, carcasses of insects or even small animals that have got into the ducts and died, nesting materials of animals, or debris blown in by the wind.

In such cases, the solution is really simple. Just clear away the debris.

You can look at installing screens or hoods over the external vent to try and prevent this from happening again. Here are some examples:

No products found.

Incorrect Installation

As the function of backdraft dampers relies on the fact that the flaps only open in one direction, installing them incorrectly will not only allow outside drafts to enter the ductwork and rattle through, it will inhibit the exhausting of kitchen air, i.e., it will inhibit the function of the range hood itself.

8 Reasons Why A Range Hood Is not Effective

Since you are likely to be examining your backdraft damper as part of your investigations into the noisy range hood, you can check the installation while the damper is exposed.

The flaps—whether horizontal or vertical, single or double, gravity-, electrically-, or spring-operated, or installed behind the range hood, in-line, or at the external vent— should open towards the outside of the house.

Horizontal , gravity-operated, electrically-operated and spring-operated backdraft damper

If the damper is installed backwards, take it out and put it back in the right way. This should solve your problem.

Just make sure that the damper was not damaged by the improper installation.

Stop the Banging of Gravity-Operated Dampers

Gravity-operated dampers, particularly those located at or near the external vent are the most likely to cause a banging noise, which is arguably more annoying than the rattling.

Because there is no electrical or spring mechanism to hold the flaps closed, a strong wind blowing in the right direction can pick the flap or flaps up and drop them over and over again.

There are two options to stop the noise here. You can either try to prevent the wind from picking the flap up in the first place, or you can try to make the drop quieter.

Obviously, the first option is better because it also prevents the wind from entering the ductwork and causing rattling noise.

Keeping the Flaps Down

Using a hooded damper or external vent cover as discussed above can provide sufficient protection from the wind that the flap is not picked up.

Wind blowing in a specific direction can still lift the flap, but the banging should be limited to a rare occurrence as opposed to a blight on your peace every time there’s a storm.

Another option here is to use weights to keep the flaps down. The trick here is finding an additional weight that is large enough to stop the wind from picking up the flaps but small enough to allow the force of the exhausted air to open the flaps when the range hood is on.

You can use simple washers held on with a bead of silicone or you can get a little fancier and use wheel weights. The glue on them is extremely strong, so you don’t have to worry about them falling off.

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Last update on 2024-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

My suggestion is that before you purchase the wheel weights, check that the lightest weight is not too heavy to prevent the damper from operating correctly. You can do this by finding a like-weighted object and temporarily affixing it to the flaps.

Cushioning the Flaps

As I mentioned, this is not the best solution, but it’s a really excellent immediate solution when you are going crazy of an evening and just want the noise to stop now.

If you are searching for a right-now solution, you can use some double-sided tape, leaving the paper over the top side. Alternatively, a little bit of heat-resistant fabric, etc., will do the trick.

For more permanent versions of this solution, you can use weather stripping or generic foam dots.

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Whatever material you choose, place it between the damper and the frame.

Remember that the thicker this material is, the more likely wind can get under it, which is the last thing you want, so keep it thin.

Alternative Solution: Switch To A Ductless Range Hood

Now, ductless range hoods are not illegal. In fact, range hoods are not required by code in most states (California is a notable exception).

While not always required, they are very helpful is you do a lot of cooking.

If, however, you don’t do a lot of cooking and your current range hood has seen better days it might be worth looking at ductless range hoods.

Ductless range hood illustration

Modern ductless range hoods are surprisingly effective at removing cooking odors and smoke.

With a ductless range hood you will save energy and will eliminate the annoying wind flapping for sure.

What Else Could Cause The Sound?

When the sound is present only when it is very windy outside, then it must be somehow related to the ductwork.

If it is not the external damper, then it could be the integrated damper on the range hood itself. They often have additional plastic dampers, but it is quite rare that they are the cause.

If you are certain that the integrated damper is to blame, you can either remove it, and replace it with a quality spring-operated damper as we discussed above, or use foam just to quiet it down, remembering that there will be an air leak when you use foam.

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