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You can’t clean ductwork if you can’t access it. Properly spaced access doors in kitchen exhaust ducts are the key to removing combustible grease for a thorough and fire-safe cleaning job.

Access panel installation is essential if 100% of the exhaust ducts cannot be easily reached. In addition, each duct access panel installed should be UL Listed to meet NFPA requirements and designed so that it can be opened and shut many times while ensuring a grease-proof, air-, and fire-tight fit.

Why Access Panels?

Duct and exhaust fan access panels allow for kitchen exhaust systems to be properly cleaned. Kitchen exhaust systems with insufficient access to the entirety of the system are prone to grease buildup that can result in kitchen fires.

Grease Builds Up in the Ducts

The ductwork in a commercial kitchen exhaust system is one of the most important elements to keep clean. Fires that start in the kitchen can quickly spread into the rest of the exhaust system through the hood and into the ducts. Combustible grease in the ductwork provides fuel for a fire to grow. This leads to fires that are often harder to control and inflict more and costlier damage.

Grease Builds Up in the Exhaust Fan

NFPA requires that upblast fans are provided with an access opening on the curvature of the outer fan housing, allowing for all areas of the fan to be thoroughly inspected and cleaned. Upblast fans that lack a proper access panel are often not cleaned sufficiently. This leads to a host of problems including grease build-up on the blades, off balance rotation and fan vibration or rattling. Over time this can cause premature wear on the bearings and belt and degrade the effectiveness of the fan.

Access Panels Allow for a Properly Cleaned Exhaust System

High-volume commercial kitchens naturally have grease buildup in all components of their exhaust systems, and adequate access to each and every nook and cranny is important for the proper cleaning of the entirety of the system.

Halo prevents these problems with the installation of exhaust system access panels where necessary to ensure that the entirety of your kitchen exhaust system can be properly cleaned.

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How Many Access Panels?

The short answer to this question is answered by NFPA 96 1-3.1.3: “all interior surfaces of the exhaust system shall be reasonably accessible for cleaning and inspection purposes.” There is no need to install more access panels than necessary and the guidelines are as follows.

Access Panels for Horizontal Ductwork

To determine how many access panels are necessary in horizontal exhaust ductwork, there are primarily two factors to consider:

  1. The length: for every 12 feet of horizontal ductwork, an access panel should be installed.
  2. Change in direction: for every change of direction in horizontal ductwork, an access panel should be installed.

These two rules apply unless the duct is large enough for personnel entry, approximately two feet square (24 inches by 24 inches).

Access Panels for Vertical Ductwork

Access panels are required for every floor of vertical duct. If personnel entry into the ductwork is possible, the access panel can be installed on top of the vertical riser.

A special consideration is required for hoods that contain dampers. Dampers are often found in most water-wash hoods, and these dampers block the opening of the duct. In these cases, an access panel must be installed within 18 inches of the hood.

Access Panels for Kitchen Exhaust Fans

When exhaust fans have ductwork connected on either end, an access panel is required within three feet of the fan on both ends. This allows for efficient cleaning of the fan blades and the exhaust fan as a whole.

Efficient Access Saves Time & Money

There are many models, brands and types of kitchen exhaust access panels to choose from. In some cases, access panels cannot be pulled off the shelf and must be custom made. No two systems are alike, but efficent access to all parts of a system save time and money in kitchen exhaust cleaning services.

Halo has over seven years of experience selecting and installing access panels that allow for quick and efficient cleaning that save time and money in kitchen exhaust cleaning services over the life of the exhaust system.

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Access Panel Installation by Halo Restoration Services

For many access panel installations, a hole can be cut and welding isn’t required, and installation is done after cutting an appropriately sized hole into the ducting and putting the panel in place. A wrong cut or a problem with the installation can result in an unstable and subpar panel installation that can cause your restaurant money and operating time and do more harm than good. If you want your panel to be installed correctly, you can reach out to our company.

Access panel installations is one of our many kitchen exhaust system maintenance services. Installing the access door that fits your ducting system shape, size, and design is part of making sure we keep your kitchen exhaust systems properly and efficiently cleaned, providing a fire-safe environment for your establishment, employees and guests.

Halo’s professionals can help your food & beverage outlet select and install any kitchen exhaust access panel so that your kitchen, ducts and fans can be kept properly cleaned. If you own a restaurant or commercial kitchen in North Texas, contact us today for a free examination of your system.

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