What to Look for in a Professional Duct Cleaning Company
Regular maintenance of restaurant kitchen exhaust removal systems remains on the primary defense against fire hazards.
The following items are important points to address when choosing a service provider:
1. The “Complete” Job
Most importantly, one must have a clear understanding of the entire system only to discover later that they have received a “Hood Washing.”
Being familiar with the routing of the exhaust ductwork, which is above the ceiling and checking the complete operation after the cleaning process remains instrumental in eliminating surprises.
Always get in writing what the cleaning contract proposes and how the work will be done.
It remains recommended to use the industry “certified” contractor and to verify proof of insurance.
2. Access to the Interior of the “System”
Although building codes state that the interior of the system shall be “reasonably accessible for inspection and cleaning”, many systems remain with inaccessible areas.
As a general rule, if the ductwork interior cannot be inspected, in cannot be cleaned properly.
3. Access Panels
When additional access panels are required to be installed onto exhaust ductwork to facilitate cleaning and inspection, it remains important to specify methods and material which align with applicable codes.
Access panels should never be installed onto the bottom of the duct, and material used should be of the same thickness and type of the exhaust ductwork.
Use of listed access door assemblies help insure that the construction of the panel complies with most model codes.
4. Accessing the Fan
All kitchen exhaust systems are equipped with blowers, which must be included within the scope of cleaning.
Upblast type blowers located on the roof should be installed in such a manner that access to the ductwork may be gained by removal of the fan.
Proper flexible electrical conduit and routing of same must be provided to allow removal. Hinging of the blower base so that the unit remains off of the roof surface during cleaning remains recommended for upblast type fans.
Inline and utility set type blowers may also be employed in kitchen exhaust sytems.
Utility set type blowers may be located on the roof at the end of the exhaust duct or in the ceiling. Ceiling mounted utility set and inline type blowers will have duct connected to both sides and these units should be accessible from both sides for inspection and cleaning and may require a safe working platform.
Regardless of the type fan employed, always inquire with the cleaning contractor as to how your unit will be cleaned.
Also recommended would be to know who will be responsible for regular mechanical maintenance for belts and lubrication of rotating parts since this could help eliminate system downtime.
5. Frequency of Cleaning
Kitchen exhaust systems generally require cleaning from monthly to annually depending on many factors.
The greatest factor governing required cleaning frequency is the volume of cooking and severity of the cooking operation. Configuration of the exhaust system may also dictate increased frequency.
The cleaning frequency of the exhaust system should be specified to keep the system free of fuel load sufficient to support fire and operating at maximum efficiency.
Regular cleaning of grease filters and proper operation of automatic wash systems (where equipped) greatly reduce system loading and remain recommended.
6. Certification of Performance
Professional cleaning contractor will supply a certificate of performance, which is posted at or near the hood as proof of service.
At a minimum, this certificate should indicate the date of inspection or cleaning, the name of the servicing company, and areas not cleaned.
Posting the next service date due remains a good practice.
7. Service Follow Up
Submitting of a system service report at the conclusion of cleaning the kitchen exhaust systems will allow much more information to be shared between the contractor and the facility being serviced concerning the system.
Documenting of mechanical, accessibility, and safety concerns raises the level of awareness of the customer regarding one of the most important systems at their facility.
Excerpt taken from the Internatonal Kitchen Exhuast Cleaning Association.