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.
- They act as a barrier to block flames in the event of a fire or flame up from your cooking surfaces.
- They are designed to catch grease laden vapors before entering the duct work of the exhaust system.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.