AuthorJerry Nelson

Investing in Kitchen Hood Cleaning

You can clean the external portion of your kitchen hoods along with the kitchen surfaces as part of your daily cleaning process. However, for the more complex kitchen exhaust system, you need professionals for the job. You need to be compliant of a certain regulation called the NFPA-96 Standard. This standard calls for compliance for all commercial kitchen operators.

Benefits of clean kitchen hoods

  • Reduced risk of kitchen fires
  • Incorporated as a standard part of the overall maintenance plan
  • Improved ventilation for smoke and odor removal
  • Compliance with fire and health codes requiring kitchen exhaust cleaning
  • Comfortable working environment for kitchen staff
  • Lower insurance premiums offered by some insurance companies

Hiring a kitchen hood cleaning company is quite easy because there are a lot of them nowadays. You just need the right people to do the job. NFPA-96 Standard requires them to be properly qualified and licensed. Since your kitchen exhaust system needs a thorough cleaning down to “bare metal”, it is best to hire professionals. Remember that a clean kitchen exhaust system creates a more comfortable cooking environment for the people inside it. It will also minimize the risk of a fire hazard which is extremely dangerous for everybody.

It is important to invest in good kitchen hood cleaning companies because they can make you stay in the food business. Incompliance with NFPA-96 Standard can give you a hard time especially when you’re dealing with authorities. Regular kitchen hood cleaning makes you compliant with the standard and decreases the chance of a restaurant fire.


Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Improves Kitchen Productivity


Many businessmen are trying to venture into the food industry because they can see potential growth in this area. Of course, all people need to eat. When traveling abroad, people love to explore different kinds of cuisines. That’s why a restaurant business is always a good idea.

However, in the same way, that you think of ways to keep your restaurant in business, you should also keep in mind the responsibilities you have as a restaurant owner. One of these things is your kitchen exhaust system. Your kitchen exhaust system is a vital part of your restaurant. It pulls away unwanted odors, air pollutants in the air and exhausts it out in the atmosphere. Imagine your kitchen life without your kitchen hoods. Your restaurant will be filled with smoke, and you may lose your patrons because of this. Any businessman won’t like that, so remember to always keep your kitchen hoods free from any grease build-up.

Why do you need professional kitchen hood cleaning?

Spraying hood for cleaning

To start, let’s define kitchen hood cleaning. It is the process of removing any accumulated grease inside the ducts and vents of your kitchen hoods. A thorough cleaning of your kitchen hoods involved all the ducts, fans, and all associated ductworks. A much stricter compliance of kitchen hood cleaning is being implemented if you are a commercial kitchen operator. You need professional kitchen hood cleaning for the following reasons:

  • To minimize fire hazard

Your kitchen hoods over time are filled with grease and other grimes which are not good. Grease is a contributing factor for a fire to occur. In any state- solid, liquid or vapor form, grease can ignite easily. Regularly cleaning your kitchen hoods will save your investment in structure and your people. It can prevent the occurrence of a restaurant fire.

  • To be compliant with the existing regulation

The standard governing the proper cleaning of kitchen hoods is outlined in the National Fire Protection Association Standard 96 (NFPA-96 Standard) otherwise known as the Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations. This regulation provides the minimum fire safety standards related to the design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of all public and private cooking operations. All commercial kitchen operators are required of full cooperation and compliance of this standard.

  • To create an improved air circulation inside the kitchen

If your kitchen hoods are clogged with grease, the air inside your kitchen can be polluted. Also, the overall ambiance of your kitchen will not be good. There is also a high presence of carbon monoxide in your kitchen which is not good for the human body. A high level of carbon monoxide can cause poisoning. If your kitchen hoods are clean, air circulation is improved inside your kitchen.

  • To maximize your kitchen equipment’s performance

Since kitchen hood cleaning improves the air circulation inside the kitchen, it also increases the efficiency and performance of your equipment. In a businessman’s point of view, more efficient kitchen equipment means more production at lower costs. In the long run, you will be saving on your energy bills and maintenance costs as well.

How does kitchen exhaust cleaning improve kitchen productivity?

Since kitchen exhaust cleaning creates a cooler environment in your kitchen area, it will also give you a more comfortable working environment. The people who will benefit the most in this are your employees. They will appreciate you as their employer because you are thinking of their comfort. In return, happy employees are productive at work. Your chef might invent a new recipe or he might improve one of your signature dishes. Your other employees will serve your customers with a smile on their faces. If your kitchen staff are productive, work is done faster while reducing production costs. Analyzing it carefully, you are a winner in both situations.

Over time, grease buildup within the kitchen systems may cause component failure, preventing your staff from completing their work to the highest of standards. Within a commercial kitchen space, exhaust cleaning ensures systems remain clean and perform to peak capacity. This enables staff to focus on their work with the ideal tools at their disposal around the clock. Also, a regular cleaning or inspection schedule reduces the risk of the exhaust system and its components from operating poorly. In the long run, it will reduce any costly downtime that comes with mechanical failure.


DIY Cleaning vs. Kitchen Hood Cleaning Professionals

Kitchen hoods are sometimes overlooked in the kitchen. However, this amazing kitchen equipment contributes a lot in preventing odors from spreading in the entire kitchen area. Thus, kitchen hoods need to be cleaned and maintained properly to ensure their maximum performance.

Spraying foam

But the big question here is, “Should you do the cleaning by yourself or should you hire kitchen hood cleaning professionals?”

DIY Cleaning

Although it may seem simpler to hire professionals to clean your kitchen hoods, there are some advantages to cleaning them yourself.

  • Cost Savings

Most restaurant owners are always looking for cost savings. Cleaning your hoods can save you some dollars every year.

  • More frequency in cleaning

Since you are doing it yourself, you can always clean your kitchen hoods anytime you want. The result will be a much cleaner restaurant and a decreased chance of fires.

Kitchen Hood Cleaning Professionals

Now, these are the reasons why you should hire kitchen hood cleaning professionals in dealing with grease buildup in your hoods.

  • State of the art equipment

Kitchen hood cleaning companies regularly upgrade their equipment to be able to meet customer’s maximum satisfaction. They need to do that to stay in business and to be at par with their competitors. Due to their state of the art equipment, kitchen hood cleaning can be a breeze. They will also find other ways to clean your kitchen hoods properly and thoroughly.

  • Licensed and certified

Most kitchen hood cleaning companies are licensed to perform cleaning. They have expertise in this kind of profession. They did not stay in this kind of business for nothing. They have the necessary experience to do the cleaning job and give you the best results. You can check their past works to have an idea on how they handle the cleaning job.

Now it is important to know here that a commercial kitchen operator needs to be compliant with the NFPA-96 Standard in order to continue in business. DIY cleaning can be applied to small food businesses such as food truck business.


A Walkthrough of the NFPA-96 Standard


Any commercial kitchen operator is familiar with the NFPA-96 Standard. Why? It is because they will not be able to operate if they are incompliant with this standard. This law is the governing standard by which all kitchen exhaust systems will operate. It provides the minimum fire safety standards related to the design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of all public and private cooking operations.

This standard has changed drastically throughout the years from the first time it was published in 1961 to today. When this fire code was first written by the National Fire Protection Association in 1961, it was just a simple requirement on how one should go about cleaning a kitchen exhaust system. In our present time, it also outlined the specific guidelines on the design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of the full spectrum of cooking equipment, kitchen hoods, grease removal devices, exhaust duct systems, fans, fire suppression systems and clearance to combustibles.

Important guidelines of the standard

  1. Frequency of cleaning

NFPA-96 Standard section 11.4 states, “The entire exhaust system shall be inspected for grease build up by a properly trained, qualified and certified person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction and in accordance with Table 11.4”

  • Monthly- These are for systems serving solid fuel cooking operations
  • Quarterly- These are for systems serving high-volume operations, such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling, wok cooking, etc.
  • Semi-annually- These are for systems serving moderate-volume cooking operations
  • Annually- These are for systems serving low-volume cooking operations, such as churches, day camps, seasonal business or senior centers.
  1. Definition of clean

The industry standard is to clean to “bare metal.” According to NFPA-96 Standard section 11.6.2, “Hoods, grease removal devices, fans, ducts, and other appurtenances shall be cleaned to remove combustible contaminants prior to surfaces becoming heavily contaminated with grease or oily sludge.” The best way to determine if a surface is clean is to inspect it. If it looks like there is an accumulation of grease on a surface, then it probably needs cleaning. You can ask your kitchen hood cleaning contractor for the procedures they can perform to have your whole kitchen exhaust systems cleaned to bare metal.

  1. Reporting of cleaning

NFPA-96 Standard 11.4.13 states, “After cleaning is completed, the vent cleaning contractor shall place or display within the kitchen area a label indicating the date cleaned and the name of the servicing company, as well as areas not cleaned.”

  1. Importance of access doors

NFPA-96 sections 7.4.1 and 7.4.2 recommend the installation of openings large enough to permit thorough cleaning at a minimum of every 12 feet of horizontal ductworks and on every floor of vertical ductwork. It is also necessary to have access doors at every change of direction.

  1. The responsibility of the owner

In accordance to NFPA-96 Standard section 4.1.5, “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 the management company or another party.”


Restaurant Fire Prevention Checklist

It is always better to have an emergency plan to prevent the occurrence of a fire than lose your investment. The following are some guidelines which you can use for your fire safety prevention.

  1. Preventive Maintenance Procedures

  • Install a fire suppression system in the kitchen. This system can help suppress flames by automatically dispensing chemicals. Always see to it that your fire suppression system is also well maintained. The fire suppression system installed in your restaurant is required to undergo inspection as part of your security measures.
  • Have fire extinguishers in different areas of your restaurant. These portable fire fighting items can come in handy whenever a small fire starts and can still be controlled. You need a Type K extinguisher on hand near the grill or fryer to help put out cooking oil fires.
  • Always have a regular maintenance of electrical wirings and equipment. Another cause of kitchen fires is the electrical wirings and equipment. Always check with your contractor for any frayed cords or electrical wiring, cracked or broken switch and other combustible electrical materials.
  • Have your kitchen exhaust systems regularly inspected. NFPA-96 Standard calls for a regular inspection of the kitchen exhaust systems installed in commercial kitchens. This can be done monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. It is done to prevent grease build-up which can also cause a fire in the kitchen.
  1. Proper Staff Training Procedures

  • Train your staff to be familiar and to use fire extinguishers. Conduct pieces of training and seminars on the proper use of fire extinguishers as these can be of great help when an emergency arises.
  • Always inform your staff to clean the kitchen equipment regularly.
  • Inform your staff of proper disposal of cigarettes. Tell them also not to smoke near storage areas and make sure that cigarettes are out before disposing of them in trash bins.
  • Handle chemicals properly. This goes especially to fire igniting chemicals. Always place them in well-ventilated areas and keep them away from supplies, food supplies or any source of flames.


Kitchen Hood Cleaning- your protection against restaurant fires

Owning a restaurant is both rewarding and challenging. Rewarding because you earn from your profits and you can see the smiles of your patrons after dining in your restaurant. However, it is also challenging in a sense because you have to maintain the highest form of sanitation inside your dining and kitchen area.

One of the reasons you need to have regular hood cleaning is it serves as your protection against restaurant fires. Studies conducted show that one of three fires in the United States is caused by restaurant fire. This is because restaurants have all the necessary factors for a fire to start. With its heavy cooking processes, all the deep fryers and heating equipment involved the electrical wirings and the flammable materials that can be found inside it, restaurant fire hazard is high.

Spraying foam

Top causes of restaurant fires

NFPA-96 Standard provided the list of the top contributors of a restaurant fire. Below are the top five and the reasons why.

  1. Cooking equipment

According to NFPA, from 2010-2014, approximately 61% of restaurant fires in America are caused primarily by cooking- with cooking equipment as the main cause. It makes sense that cooking equipment results in the most number of fires and property damage for restaurants since it is a constant source of heat and fuel throughout the working day.

  1. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment

Frayed electrical cords or faulty equipment are more likely to spark and cause an electrical fire inside your restaurant.

Some of the electrical hazards which can cause a restaurant fire include the following:

  • Worn electrical cords
  • Damaged extension cords
  • Faulty wiring
  • Damaged receptacles
  • Ungrounded outlets
  • Faulty electrical appliances

It is important to check your electrical wirings with a professional to ensure safety and compliance in building codes.

  1. Heating equipment

Deep fryers deal with hot oil and grease more than any other piece of cooking equipment. Proper maintenance and cleaning of your heating equipment are helpful to prevent misuse which can lead to a restaurant fire. It is also important to note here that your kitchen exhaust systems should also be properly cleaned to avoid clogs in your kitchen hoods.

  1. Smoking materials

Fires caused by cigarettes account for 1,000 deaths in the U.S every year. Most restaurant fires are started by embers igniting on furniture and trash cans. It can be prevented by proper staff training. Always inform your kitchen staff not to smoke on areas which have highly-flammable materials.

  1. Arson

Arson or the intentional burning of the restaurant is the last factor for a restaurant fire. With its minimal contribution in a restaurant fire, this activity is also hazardous. It is responsible for 5% of the restaurant fires and if not prevented, many innocent lives will also suffer.

In addition to knowing these, you should always have a plan to prevent a fire in your restaurant. A responsible owner creates a plan in case of emergency. Prevention is always better than losing your investment in facilities and in people.


Finding the Best Hood Cleaning Company

Rooftop cleaning

Cleaning and maintaining your kitchen hoods cannot be entrusted to anyone. This is because the NFPA-96 Standard requires that only professionals which are licensed and certified can do the job. Kitchen hood cleaning can be a difficult task depending on the size of your kitchen exhaust system and complexity of the installations of your ducts, vents and hoods.

There are a lot of kitchen hood cleaning companies in the market today. Finding one can be easy, but finding the best one is the tough task. Be sure you hire the best hood cleaning company that suits your needs.

Qualities of a Good Kitchen Hood Cleaning Company

  • Licensing and Insurance

A professional kitchen hood cleaning company is licensed and insured. Government authorities require mandatory licensing to be able to work. Having also adequate insurance is also a sign of a great cleaning company. They need to be properly insured so they will be protected and also your kitchen investment. Make sure to check that your kitchen hood cleaning company is licensed and insured before you hire them for work.

  • Realistic Pricing and Quotations

A professional kitchen hood cleaning operator will not give you overpriced projects. He must be knowledgeable and can be trusted enough with all the prices and quotations you need for your kitchen exhaust cleaning. Look for a contractor that gives you a detailed, reasonable and written quote. An accurate, up-front and guaranteed quote is a must.

  • Professionalism

In any field of work, professionalism is very important. A good kitchen hood cleaning operator is professional in his work. It is important to know that this person is working for you so you expect him to be a professional. They should be open, honest and approachable. A professional kitchen hood cleaning operator that is serious about the job will also be serious about looking after their clients.

  • Portfolio of Past Work and References

A good kitchen hood cleaning company creates experience over time. Ask for the past projects they have handled and check the results. You can also ask for referrals from family and friends in choosing your cleaning company since they have first-hand experience in working with them. Never compromise quality with the price. You can have the best kitchen hood cleaning company without spending too much money. Reputable kitchen hood cleaning operators who have high quality of work will offer generous warranties to their customers.

  • Experience and Reputation

Ask your hood cleaning operator for the years he had been in the industry. A vast experience is good but it should be paired with great reputation. On the other hand, choosing a newer cleaning company may also be a good option since they need to prove themselves to get good reviews from you.

  • Contract or Written Agreement

This is one of the most important parts of your kitchen hood cleaning project. A good kitchen hood cleaning company should provide a written contract or agreement. The agreement should contain all the necessary details and prices you have agreed in. It may also contain all the related cleaning works that were done in your kitchen exhaust system.


Chemicals used in cleaning Kitchen Hoods

Plenum comparison before and after

Your kitchen hoods need regular cleaning as required by NFPA-96 Standard. To achieve this, you need to hire professional cleaning experts to do this job. They may clean your kitchen hoods using two methods. First is hand scraping which is basically using a hand scraper to remove the grease that has built up inside your kitchen hoods. However, this method has its limitations because a person cannot reach all areas in your entire kitchen exhaust system. This is where the second method plays its role. This method is called steam washing or pressure washing.

Pressure washing or steam washing is more standard-compliant that hand scraping because it cleans the system down to “bare metal.” That is the requirement of NFPA-96 Standard. This method involves the use of caustic chemical cleaners to clean your entire kitchen hoods, vents, ductworks, and fans.

What are some of the chemicals used in cleaning kitchen hoods?

Some of the caustic chemicals used in cleaning hoods are stated below. It should be noted here that only professionals must use these chemicals and they should be handled with care properly.

  • Stainless steel cleaners

These are perfect for kitchen hood systems

  • SAFECID: Non-toxic degreasers

These chemicals are as strong as sodium hydroxide, cuts and emulsify greases without any odors or fumes. They are non-hazardous, non-corrosive, biodegradable, and with no disposal restrictions.

  • Oil Eater: Eco-Friendly Cleaners

These chemicals safely dissolve grease and oil on almost any surface. They are non-toxic, non-corrosive and biodegradable.


How much is Kitchen Hood Cleaning?

As kitchen hood cleaning is also a business, kitchen hood cleaning operators bill their clients under different factors. It is best to know the numbers involved in kitchen hood cleaning so you can prepare in advance for the cleaning charges.

What are the factors to consider for Hood Cleaning Cost?

Kitchen hood cleaning cost depends on a lot of factors. Some of which are the following:

  • Multiple locations

If your restaurants have multiple locations in your area, hiring one kitchen hood cleaning company might help you save money. It is also easier to work with one cleaning company than handling multiple ones offering different rates. You might get confused with their pricing thus spending a lot on kitchen hood cleaning.

  • Size and configuration of your kitchen exhaust system

A restaurant who has two-story will be charged more than a one-story restaurant because the bigger the size of your establishment, the longer are its ducts. The size and number of hoods will also play into the pricing factor and if you have multiple exhaust systems installed.

  • Hood system condition

Your overall hood system condition is also considered when determining the right pricing. If your kitchen hoods are well-maintained over the years, the cost of cleaning will not fluctuate. However, if your kitchen hoods are in a rough shape, meaning they are not well-cleaned over the years, expect a higher price because the cleaners will have more work to do. The amount of hood maintenance you need also plays an important factor. If you are operating in a high grease restaurant, expect a more frequent kitchen hood cleaning.

  • Water availability

Water is necessary to be able to do pressure washing or steam washing in your kitchen hoods. If you are not willing to let your cleaners use your restaurant’s water, the cost of moving additional water to your located will be charged to you. Make sure that your cleaners also use a protective sheet to cover your kitchen appliances when they do the cleaning.

How much does the average hood cleaning cost?

The most typical minimum charge of a hood cleaning company is from $400 to $450. This charge includes the upblast fans, ductworks, baffle filters, and hood canopy. Additional charges may include for removing access panels, very complicated or long duct systems and any minimums to cover the cost of showing up at a location.

There are two methods by which a kitchen hood cleaning company may charge you: hourly rates and flat rates on each aspect of cleaning.

  1. Hourly Rate Hood Cleaning

This method charges you a fixed rate per hour. The average hourly cost for hood cleaning is $135 to $180 per hour, charging more for a larger staff. However, there are also additional charges on top of the hourly rates depending on other factors such as additional exhaust fans, additional cleaning filters, and many more.

  1. Flat Fee Hood Cleaning

This method has a flat rate instead of an hourly rate for each aspect of cleaning. The average flat rate cost for hood cleaning is $400 to $425. It can also increase depending on other factors.

Most kitchen hood cleaning companies offer free estimates that you can take advantage before setting any cleaning appointments. Always consider the factors above to get the best pricing when hiring your kitchen hood cleaning company.


Methods of Kitchen Hood Cleaning

Your kitchen hoods may need cleaning depending on the size of your hoods and frequency of your cooking. According to NFPA-96 Standard, you can clean your kitchen hoods monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Your kitchen hood cleaning company will help you determine your schedule and you should strictly follow it.

Generally, you may hear your cleaning company say this, “Every month we will perform hand scraping”, or “Every three months we need to do pressure washing.” Have you ever wondered what they are talking about?

For a quick bit of information, hand scraping and pressure washing are the two methods of kitchen hood cleaning in general. What are the differences between the two? Which is the better cleaning method?

Hand Scraping

Scraping the ductwork and exhaust hood is primarily done on a regular basis when cleaning a system that employs a solid fuel cooking. This method is more economical and is extremely effective when done properly. It’s accomplished by a person simply scraping the accumulation of grease from the walls of the exhaust system. Although scraping is an effective method of removing grease for the exhaust system, it’s not the most thorough method because there are certain areas which are unreachable due to human’s limit. In regards to this, inaccessible areas should be documented. This includes access panels that may be installed, but are perhaps not functional.

Pressure washing or steam cleaning

This method is the alternative to hand scraping. Though the down point of this method is that it is more costly and time-consuming since it requires considerable preparatory work to control wastewater and more expensive equipment is needed. However, this method will clean ductwork down to “bare metal” which is the recommendation of the NFPA-96 Standard. This method delivers impressive results and provides an absolute thorough cleaning of every corner of the exhaust system. Steam cleaners tend to move the grease further into the grease ductwork, which can cause massive greases accumulations in areas of the ductwork between the hood and fan on the roof. Companies using hot water methods should be using a caustic chemical degreaser to break down grease so that the buildup in inaccessible areas becomes removed by flushing the system with both hot water and caustic degreaser agents.

Perhaps, the best advantage of pressure washing is that hot steam vapor is a natural sanitizing and deodorizing agent without any chemical odor. When the vapor steam penetrates surfaces, it destroys mold spores, germs, viruses, dust mites, and bacteria.

Depending on your usage, your kitchen cleaning contractor may recommend doing both to ensure proper cleaning and maintenance of your kitchen systems. For example, they may recommend scraping once a month and pressure washing at least once in three months. What is important is that the end result should be in compliance with the NFPA-96 Standard. In this way, you can be sure that your restaurant will stay in the food business. Upon completion of the cleaning, your kitchen hood cleaning company will issue a sticker which you can show to the authorities during the inspection.