Kitchen Ventilation Systems - Tips for Selecting and Using

When Selecting:

  1. Know what your local codes require for ventilation.
  2. Know what your growth plans are. It is easy to buy a little extra now but difficult to add on later.
  3. Know how the ventilation system is designed to perform. An improperly designed ventilation system will dramatically affect your monthly utility bills, as well as create an uncomfortable, and possibly dangerous, work environment.
  4. Use listed products. UL or ETL listing on hood, duct, and fans may result in substantially lower insurance rates. Ask your underwriter for an assessment.

When Operating:

  1. Always service your fans. A loose fan belt or clogged in-take filter on the supply air fan will affect the performance of the system. Results of letting this maintenance lapse can be anything from a lack of capture ability, resulting in smoke and grease escaping into the surrounding area, to the fans shutting down completely, or worse. Set up a regular maintenance schedule at the same time you have your heating/air conditioning units checked. The same company can perform both maintenance functions.
  2. Always keep the exhaust duct clean. A regular cleaning schedule should be set up with a cleaning company. Frequency of cleaning is dictated by the type and volume of cooking—in some cases every 30 days; in other cases, every 6 months. You must make the determination.
  3. Clean the grease filters as often as necessary. They are made to be cleaned in most commercial dishwashers or the pot sink. If they are not cleaned regularly, the performance of the system suffers.
  4. To help in maintaining the surface appearance, coat all stainless surfaces with a LIGHT covering of mineral oil, then wipe dry. This soaks into the pores of the metal and makes clean-up easier. Do not use mineral oil on the stainless grease filters. It is not necessary to coat the stainless every time you clean. You only need to do it occasionally to keep a film of oil on the surfaces.

The key to all of the above is maintenance. The ventilation system is more than just the stainless box that you see in your kitchen. It includes the grease filters, grease duct, exhaust fan, supply fan, supply fan filters, supply fan duct, electrical or gas controls, motors and belts and design. If properly sized and properly maintained, it will save you money on your utilities. However, if the system is neglected, it will cost you each and every day of operations. The cost of an improperly designed system may be lower at first, but the long term effect on heating/air conditioning equipment, as well as the energy usage, will soon catch up with your bottom line.