Commercial kitchens are held to a high standard of cleanliness, for the benefit of those who work and dine in the restaurant. In addition to concerns regarding contamination and other health issues, the safety of those in and around the premises can also be put at risk if proper procedures are not followed. One area of particular concern is your restaurant’s kitchen hood which, if not properly cleaned and maintained, poses a serious risk of fire.
Read on to learn all you need to know about why you should have it cleaned and who best to hire for the job.
The Science Behind Kitchen Ventilation
Regardless of the size, or design, of a restaurant kitchen, the same general principles of ventilation apply. Contaminated air is exhausted out of the kitchen and replaced with fresh, clean air in a continuous cycle. Due to the large volumes of air being moved through the relatively small spaces located within equipment, ductwork, and the type of contaminated air produced through the preparation of food, the performance, efficiency, and safety of a commercial kitchen ventilation system is dependent on a number of factors, including:
- Cleaning and Maintenance
Food service industry standards for ventilation are more complex than a standard exhaust system, due to the type of air being exhausted. Grease and smoke-laden vapors creating during the cooking process must be removed from the building in compliance with local ordinances and codes, including IKECA and NFPA 96, and replacement or supply air provided must equal the amount of air that is removed.
Why Should You Have Your Restaurant’s Kitchen Hood Cleaned?
Cooking produces a number of effluents including grease, moisture, and smoke. With the exhaust fan on, each of these components is drawn up through the kitchen hood, through the filters, and in to the ductwork building up over time. Once the buildup is sufficient, it becomes a fire hazard—which can only be prevented through routine cleaning. Here is a common sequence of events leading to a kitchen exhaust fire, which has not been cleaned:
- A high flame either flares up or is created on the stove top.
- The flame comes in contact with the filters located in the kitchen hood and they are ignited.
- With the exhaust fan on drawing in air, the flames are also drawn upward in to the ductwork.
- If sufficient grease residue exists within the ducts, it can act as a source of fuel, carrying the fire further in to the exhaust system causing significant damage, and placing the structure and its occupants at risk.
In addition to the risk of fire, there are several more reasons to have your restaurant’s kitchen hood cleaned:
- Health. The air quality within your restaurant’s kitchen and throughout the building is affected by the cleanliness of your exhaust system. Once filters become clogged and ductwork is compromised, contaminated particulate is free to circulate in occupied areas within the building where staff and patrons can breathe it in.
- Compliance. NFPA 96 Standards include the maintenance and cleaning of commercial cooking equipment, including exhaust and fan systems. If your restaurant is found to be in violation of these or other codes or regulations, your kitchen may fail inspection, costing you additional time and money while it is brought back up to code or even put you out of business. And if a fire should occur due to lack of cleaning, your insurance company may use this information to determine liability and deny your claim.
- Prevention. Your kitchen exhaust system is not only a fire hazard, but a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mildew thanks to high volumes of moisture and heat. Prevent illness and potential mechanical failure and damage with routine, professional, kitchen hood cleaning.
Schedule Routine Cleanings
How often you have your restaurant’s kitchen hood cleaned depends on the type and volume of cooking within your establishment. Follow these guidelines:
- Monthly – Wood, or charcoal-burning stoves, 24-hour restaurants, fast food establishments.
- Quarterly – High to average volumes, 24-hour schedules.
- Semi-Annually – Pizza restaurants, average volume, sit down atmosphere.
- Annually – Hoods over non-grease appliances, or those that operate seasonally, occasionally, or produce low volumes of food.
Commercial Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning in VA, MD, & DC
At the end of the day, the risks of not thoroughly cleaning your kitchen—without the help of a professional—are likely to outweigh any money saved. Once you’ve had your kitchen hood cleaned by highly trained expert, like Atlantic Duct Cleaning, you’ll never make exhaust system cleaning a DIY project again! Whether your business could benefit from monthly, quarterly, semiannual, or annual kitchen hood cleaning, Atlantic Duct Cleaning is the company to call.
If you run a restaurant in Northern Virginia or the surrounding Washington, D.C. area, don’t wait until an unexpected fire erupts on your property before you decide you need kitchen hood cleaning. If you need to schedule a commercial kitchen exhaust system cleaning, call us today at 703-774-9241!