Vent hoods – often referred to as exhaust hoods or vent-a-hoods – are that often overlooked big metal box positioned above the kitchen cooktop.

Because it sits there doing its job, it’s easy to forget this equipment requires regular maintenance and safety checks to ensure it is functioning properly and not putting the business, its employees and its customers at risk.

We all know the importance of keeping vent hoods clean in commercial kitchens. When the hood fans are on, they help bring excess grease particles up into the system where they are captured by the baffle filters. If the filters aren’t cleaned regularly, more grease gets built up from use and eventually, the effectiveness of the whole system decreases.

But, are you aware of all the components associated with your vent hood? Or how often the system should be cleaned and inspected?

Grease from a commercial cooking operation is intended to be captured by the hood and exhausted through the baffle filters, into the plenum, up the grease duct, then through the exhaust fan and directly into the air or captured by a grease tray beneath the fan.

Oftentimes, the vent hood is turned on in the morning and off at closing, without much thought devoted to overall maintenance concerns. It’s only when something breaks, causing the system to malfunction or even create a fire hazard, do we become aware of a larger maintenance issue.

Routine cleaning keeps these areas free of dangerous grease build-up, preventing fire hazards while prolonging the life of the system’s components. These are complicated systems, and proper maintenance and cleaning helps avoid breakdowns, high energy costs, roof damage and fires.

In fact, the NFPA mandates regular inspections and cleanings, as do state and local fire codes. Inspection frequency, as described by NFPA guidelines, must be:

  • Monthly for systems serving solid fuel cooking operations
  • Quarterly for systems serving high-volume cooking operations such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling or wok cooking
  • Semiannually for systems serving moderate-volume cooking operations
  • Annually for systems serving low-volume cooking operations, such as churches, day camps, seasonal businesses or senior centers

Most standard service include draining the system’s grease build up, properly disposing of the materials, and cleaning the hoods, baffle filters, vertical and horizontal ducts via access panels, exhaust fans, and the floor surrounding the vent hoods.

Cleaning the vent hood shouldn’t be a daunting task! Put these systems high on your list for detailed inspection and cleaning schedules – not only for your peace of mind, but for the betterment of your kitchen staff and patrons.

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