kitchen exhaust cleaning

All About Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning


The removal of grease which has accumulated in the interior of fans, exhaust system vents of commercial or industrial kitchens, ducts, and hoods is commonly referred to as kitchen exhaust cleaning procedure.


When kitchen exhaust systems are left uncleaned, they become potential fire hazards.


These exhaust systems should be inspected at intervals which are consistent with regular usage.


This is important in determining how much grease has already accumulated and decide if it’s time to clean the exhaust systems.


Grease that comes from kitchens of commercial establishments, such as hotels and especially restaurants, goes through the vent’s hood filters and then straight into the hood and into the ducts that lead to the roof’s exhaust fans.


Why Grease in Kitchen Exhaust Systems is a Fire Hazard

Grease is obviously a form of fuel which can ignite immediately from a seemingly simple spark that can come from the cooking lines.


Grease then spreads all throughout the attic and get onto rooftops in a matter of mere seconds to develop into a full-blown fire.


The possible danger that uncleaned exhaust systems presents must be prevented and is the responsibility of the individual who owns them.


The general safety of the owner’s employees, customers, and building is the compelling reason why kitchen exhaust cleaning procedures must be strictly implemented.


This is also mandated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations and every owner of exhaust systems is required to comply with such a standard that states: “the responsibility for inspection, testing, maintenance, and cleanliness of the ventilation control and fire protection of the commercial cooking operations shall ultimately be that of the owner of the system, provided that this responsibility has not been transferred in written form to a management company or other party.”


Frequency of Cleaning Operations

Equipment that serves cooking operations using solid fuel must be cleaned monthly while equipment that serves cooking operations for 24 hours using charbroiling or wok cooking methods must be cleaned on a quarterly basis.


Exhaust systems that serve cooking operations with moderate volume can be cleaned twice a year and those that serve cooking operations with low volume such as seasonal businesses, day camps, senior centers or churches can be cleaned on a yearly basis.


Gauging Cleanliness

But what is considered “clean”? Inspection of the surface is the best way to tell whether the equipment is clean or not.


If there is accumulated grease on the surface, it requires cleaning.


The most effective way to clean a kitchen exhaust system is by accessing the vertical and horizontal ducts through installed openings such as panels or doors.


The NFPA recommends installation of sufficiently large openings to allow thorough cleaning of the ducts.


Ducts installed horizontally should have openings for every 12 feet of ductwork and another 12 feet on ductwork installed vertically in all floors.


A more accurate measurement can be obtained from a tool known as the Grease Gauge, developed by the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association or IKECA, which determines the cleanliness level of exhaust systems by measuring accumulated fuel on the equipment’s surface.