How long has it been?

How long has it been? When speaking with prospective clients, there is always an “interview” process to determine what individual needs are important.  During this brief Q & A, we try to understand several things like location, size, and condition of the kitchen exhaust system.  Inevitably, we ask the question, “How long has it been since the system was cleaned last?”  There really aren’t too many answers we get to this question; more often than not, the informed restaurant manager has had the vent hoods on their normal schedule and the last cleaning falls within the last three to six months.  On the other end of the spectrum, often times the restaurant will tell us the last time the hoods were cleaned was eight months ago, over a year, two years or, heck, we couldn’t tell you the last time the hoods were cleaned. One main reason, we find, there has been such a long gap in the kitchen exhaust cleaning is that the restaurateur has recently taken over the space from another tenant.  If this the case, congratulations.  Getting the kitchen exhaust cleaning service set up should be towards the top of the list of things to do.  From a safety standpoint, you shouldn’t do any type of cooking under a vent hood that has not been cleaned and inspected.  Typically, when a restaurateur is on the decline, maintenance expenditures are not a high priority.  He or she could have been neglecting that system, thus allowing unknown amounts of grease to accumulate in the system, and potentially causing a fire hazard for you, the new owner, that could...

Importance of a Kitchen Exhaust System Inspection

As a former restaurant manager, I relied on my Kitchen Exhaust Cleaner to help manage and maintain my exhaust system.  Making sure a restaurant is within NFPA 96 code and safe from potential fire, are two paramount responsibilities of any exhaust cleaning company. Like most front of house managers, I was naive to the importance of maintaining the exhaust system properly.  I had a maintenance program set up for our baffle filters and polished our hoods, but that was the extent of my involvement.  I put my trust in the hood cleaner to manage the rest. The “bottom line” is always at the forefront of running any business.  With that in mind, another exhaust cleaner approached me, and he was able to under bid my current vendor by a significant amount.  I was operating under the misconception that the service and product would be equal, so I went with the lowest bid and based by decision solely on price. The service seemed to be the same and both parties seemed happy with the relationship. After leaving this particular restaurant to come work with Hood Boss, the opportunity to inspect and bid my previous workplace presented itself.  Now, on the other side of the relationship as a vendor, I understand the meaning of, “inspect what you expect.” The previous company had not held up its responsibility to maintain the system properly.  Horizontal duct work had not been serviced and thus leaving the system at risk of fire.  The exhaust fans had been neglected which caused expensive roof damage.  There were inaccessible areas that had not been addressed that resulted in excessive grease build...

Trouble Shooting Your Kitchen Exhaust Fan

Vent hood cleaning can be a very invasive process.  The process includes using power washers and heavy duty degreasers.  Our work includes working on the roof top, in the sub ceiling, and downstairs in the kitchen. From time to time, issues arise after a cleaning has occurred.  The most common call we get is that the exhaust fan is not turning on, or it is not working at its full capacity.  Here are a few frequently asked questions and resolutions.   Fan is not turning on at all. Check main switch on canopy hood – flip on and off to make sure that it is getting power. If no power is getting to the hood – check the breaker box. Flip switches for fans back and forth, even if they do not looked tripped. If fan is getting power – check switch on roof top fan – these are sometimes accidentally left off after the cleaning process – if you are not comfortable with the location of the fan – call the last service provider. Fan is still not turning on after these trouble shoots were completed. Check for any exposed wiring on or around the exhaust fan. Check switches and ground wires.  Call an electrician to accomplish a thorough inspection. The fan motor makes a humming or clicking sound when turned on, then shuts down. The motor takes twice as much power to start up, than it does to run normally. This may cause motors that are already worn out to fail.  Call an HVAC company to either install a new motor or repair it. The start-up of...

How Often Should My System Be Cleaned?

Frequency of kitchen exhaust cleanings is always a matter of concern when discussing service with new clients and building relationships with current clients. The ultimate goal of the Fire Protection Act is to reduce the risk of a fire in your commercial kitchen.  As we all know, though, there are always going to exceptions to any rule, and the NFPA 96 addressed this in Annex A: “A.11.6.2:  When to clean: A measurement system of deposition should be established to trigger a need to clean, in addition to a time reference based on equipment emissions. The method of measurement is a depth gauge comb…which is scraped along the duct surface.  For example, a measured depth of (0.078 in.) indicates the need to remove the deposition risk.  The system would also include point measurement in critical areas.  For example, (0.125 in.) in a fan housing requires cleaning.” What does this all mean?  Basically, there are guidelines and then there are specifics to getting the hoods cleaned.  Let say your restaurant used hickory wood in the grill.  By code, you should expect the hood over the grill to be cleaned on a monthly frequency.  Now let’s say you are killing it volume wise, and the grease and creosote levels in the system are reaching the .078 in. (which is 1/8”) faster than a month between cleanings.  You could potentially be at risk for fire spreading one week, two weeks, or maybe longer before your next scheduled vent hood cleaning. Most of us are getting our hoods cleaned on a quarterly frequency, and in most cases, this is accurate timing based on code...

The Importance of a Hinge Kit on Your Kitchen Exhaust System

Although kitchen exhaust system fans are supposed to be supplied with a hinge kit when installed, we still see a lot of fans without them. Hinge Kits are an important part of the make up of an exhaust fan although it has become an item that is typically not enforced by the authority having jurisdiction in each area. In order to walk you through the importance of the hinge kit, I want to list the three main reasons that you need a hinge kit. Those reasons are listed below. Code: NFPA 96 8.1.1.1  States that “Approved up-blast fans with motors surrounded by the air stream shall be hinged, supplied with flexible weatherproof electrical cable and service hold-open retainers, and listed for this use.” Material that the fan is made of: The up-blast fan on your roof top is made up of spun aluminum. Spun aluminum is a very light weight and pliable material. To give an example of how pliable its is, you can take a pair of pliers and bend the frame. Cleaning Process: In order to clean your kitchen exhaust system to code, your exhaust cleaning company has to access the bottom of the blades of the exhaust fan and the vertical duct leading down to the hood in the kitchen. Most cleaning companies try and treat your equipment as if it was there own. However, if your system does not have a hinge kit installed, the technician has to maneuver a 125 plus pound fan off the duct curb that is covered in grease as well as water from the cleaning. In summary, even with the...

Does Your Kitchen Exhaust Fan Meet Code?

Does your Kitchen Exhaust Fan meet code? Most restaurant managers are so tied up with the day to day operations inside the kitchen that they have no idea of the potential hazards that are occurring on their roof tops. There are a few simple things to look for that can help assure your fan is up to code and that you avoid potential down time for your restaurant or damage to your exhaust fan. The first thing to inspect is to see if your up-blast fan (or bowl shaped fan) has a hinge kit installed. The Importance of a hinge kit is to allow access to the vertical duct of your exhaust system by allowing the fan to open to a ninety degree angle. This provides proper access to the duct to clean your kitchen exhaust system properly without harming the mechanics or structural integrity of the fan. A typical exhaust fan weighs around 125lbs and is made of spun aluminum. The material can be bent very easily in the cleaning process even when extreme precaution is taken. The next thing to inspect is the electrical conduit on your exhaust fan. You want to look for two things. The first is that the electrical conduit is run externally from the duct curb into the fan housing of the fan see photo below. The importance of this is to insure that the wiring for the fan is not exposed to grease build up within the system and keep the wiring from becoming damaged from taking the fan on and off during the cleaning process. The removal of the exhaust fan...