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The Kitchen Exhaust Hood Cleaning Guide for Restaurant Owners

Sage Bourgeois - Thursday, October 22, 2015

Every commercial restaurant kitchen should be equipped with an exhaust hood to remove grease-laden vapors from the fuel sources and cooking surfaces of each cooking appliance. Operating without an exhaust system is dangerous for employees, customers and the facility itself. However, even with the most advanced equipment, grease buildup will occur over time depending on the type and frequency of cooking happening in the kitchen.  

It's easy to spot the grease buildup on the underside of the hood canopy, on the components of the fire suppression system, in the duct work and all the way up to the exhaust fan on the roof. This grease buildup is the leading cause of restaurant fires around the globe. In order to remove the fire hazzard, all of the exhaust equipment must be thoroughly cleaned by a professional using the right chemicals and equipment.

According to NFPA 96, section 8-3.1: Hoods, grease removal devices, fans, ducts, and other appurtenances shall be cleaned to bare metal at frequent intervals prior to surfaces becoming heavily contaminated with grease or oily sludge. After the exhaust system is cleaned to bare metal, it shall not be coated with powder or any other substance. The entire exhaust system shall be inspected by a properly trained, qualified and certified company or person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction in accordance with Table 8-3.1.

Exhaust hood cleaning requirements and best practices are outlined in Table 8-3.1 Exhaust System Inspection Schedule in NFPA 96:

  • Monthly – Systems serving solid fuel cooking operations
  • Quarterly – Systems serving high-volume operations, such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling, wok cooking, etc.
  • Semi-Annually – Systems serving moderate volume cooking operations.
  • Annually – Systems serving low volume cooking operations, such as day camps, churches, seasonal businesses, etc.

As a restaurant owner or manager, it is important to hold your employees responsible for cleaning the exterior surfaces of exhaust hoods as part of day-to-day operations. The cleaning process described in NFPA 96 should only be performed by a trained and certified kitchen exhaust cleaning service provider.

The scope of this work should include:

  • Disassembly, cleaning, and degreasing hoods, including hood filter tracts, grease troughs, and removable grease cups
  • Removal of roof and/or wall mounted fans from ductwork to degrease the base, shroud, and blades
  • Inspecting exhaust fans for loose or worn out fan belts
  • Cleaning and degreasing all hood filters, hood parts and accessories, and replacing if necessary
  • Cleaning all accessible parts of ductwork from exhaust fans to each individual hood
  • Applying food-safe polish to stainless steel ductwork
  • Thoroughly cleaning all affected areas (remove plastic, mop, remove any debris, etc.)
  • Providing a complete, detailed written report of all work performed, and deficiencies in the exhaust system, and recommendations for addressing any problems
  • Attaching a certificate showing company name, person performing the work, and date of cleaning to each hood cleaned

What Are The Benefits of Hood Exhaust System Cleanings?

  • Cleanliness of your kitchen and better tasting food.
  • Avoid future disasters that my cause injury, death or property loss.
  • Reduce the maintenance and repair costs of your hood exhaust system, increase its efficiency, and add years to its life.
  • Fire & Safety Commodities provides professional hood cleaning services that closely adhere to the NFPA 96 requirements. We help restaurant owners and managers make sure their equipment is up to date, functioning properly, and meeting standards for compliance.


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