Importance of Cleaning Kitchen Exhaust System Baffle Filters Between Services

Importance of Cleaning Kitchen Exhaust System Baffle Filters Between Services

Importance of Cleaning Baffle Filters in Between Services

Hood Filters or Baffle Filters in your kitchen exhaust system serve three important functions in your exhaust system. Understanding these functions and setting up a maintenance plan to help assure that they work properly will help to increase the efficiency of your system and reduce the risk of fire. 

  1. They act as a barrier to block flames in the event of a fire or flame up from your cooking surfaces.
  2. They are designed to catch grease laden vapors before entering the duct work of the exhaust system.
  3. They help to insure that the hood pulls air evenly throughout the hood canopy.  

When filters are clogged from infrequent cleaning it can cause many problems and can actually become a fire hazard due to all of the grease that gets built up in them.  The grease is fuel for a fire that may start below the filters and allow the fire to spread to the duct system.  Clogged filters also hamper the exhaust fans ability to pull heat and smoke from the kitchen.  The excess strain on the system can cause fan motors unnecessary wear which will eventually cause them to fail and potentially shut down your kitchen.

NFPA 96 states that grease removal devices need to be maintained on a more frequent basis than the rest of the system, due to these risk factors.


Grease Baffle Filter  Grease Baffle Filter


How to clean your baffle filters

Usually the first people to complain about heat and smoke build up in the kitchen are the line cooks, the very people that are neglecting to clean the cause of the problem.  The first step to maintaining this area of your kitchen is to not let the filters go too long before cleaning them.  I understand having a kitchen staff do extra work is never an easy task, but it will save you time and money in the long run.

As a former restaurant manager, I have tried this maintenance program and it works.  The program is simple and once in place may only add 15 minutes to any line cook’s regular cleaning duties.  Clean one filter per day.  That’s right, one per day.  Start at one end of the hood.  Pull one filter down and clean (see cleaning methods below.)  Simply shift the remaining filters down to replace that spot and put the clean filter in the opposite end.  You will always pull the dirty filter from the same spot and replace with clean filters in the same spot.  This rotation will keep the filters clean without having to spend a lot of extra time to do so.

A couple of easy cleaning methods exist.   

  1. Hand washing is the best way. Hot soapy water will work just fine.  A little degreaser won’t hurt.  Dry off immediately and put back into hood.
  2. Run through dishwasher. Hit them with a little degreaser and let it soak in.  Run through the dishwasher to rinse off grease and chemicals.  Dry off immediately.

Sounds easy enough, right.  It is, as long as it stays a mandatory maintenance program.  I hope this program will get you started on one of your own that will fit your specific needs.


Does Your Kitchen Exhaust Fan Meet Code

Does Your Kitchen Exhaust Fan Meet Code

Does your Kitchen Exhaust Fan meet code?

Most restaurant managers are so tied up with the day to day operations inside the kitchen that they have no idea of the potential hazards that are occurring on their roof tops. There are a few simple things to look for that can help assure your fan is up to code and that you avoid potential down time for your restaurant or damage to your exhaust fan.

The first thing to inspect is to see if your up-blast fan (or bowl shaped fan) has a hinge kit installed. The Importance of a hinge kit is to allow access to the vertical duct of your exhaust system by allowing the fan to open to a ninety degree angle. This provides proper access to the duct to clean your kitchen exhaust system properly without harming the mechanics or structural integrity of the fan. A typical exhaust fan weighs around 125lbs and is made of spun aluminum. The material can be bent very easily in the cleaning process even when extreme precaution is taken.

The next thing to inspect is the electrical conduit on your exhaust fan. You want to look for two things. The first is that the electrical conduit is run externally from the duct curb into the fan housing of the fan see photo below.


The importance of this is to insure that the wiring for the fan is not exposed to grease build up within the system and keep the wiring from becoming damaged from taking the fan on and off during the cleaning process. The removal of the exhaust fan during cleanings can cause wiring to become exposed and potentially cause a fire or breaker to trip from metal to metal contact. This can cause costly down time for your restaurant.

Once you have insured that the wiring is ran externally, the second item to look for is inspecting the integrity of the wiring. The external wiring should be ran through weather proof conduit it to protect it from exposure to rain and grease from the system. See Photo Below

fan2   Exposed Electrical Conduit

 NFPA 96 – states that  Rooftop termination shall be arranged with or provided with the following:(8) A hinged up-blast fan supplied with flexible weatherproof electrical cable and service hold-open retainer to permit inspection and cleaning that is listed for commercial cooking equipment. It is very important to make sure that the wiring on your roof top is not exposed to the weather conditions. Wiring that is exposed can cause fires if introduced to grease on the roof top and/or cause the fan to short out at any given time costing your business time and money. 

NFPA 96 – states that – Approved up-blast fans with motors surrounded by the airstream shall be hinged, supplied with flexible weatherproof electrical cable and service hold-open retainers, and listed for this use.