Design vs Functionality

A common struggle of anyone who has had the pleasure of going through restaurant construction or building finish out can be the sacrifices, compromises, and changes that often occur during the building process.  The architect comes up with a design that is going to beautiful.  He hands the plans off to the contractor and explains his vision, only to be returned by a blank stare and the very apparent thought bubble that reads, “How does this guy expect me to put this together?”  The plans were sound, but the execution can sometimes be more of a challenge often adding important things to the budget such as time and especially money.

Often in these cases, one thing that gets overlooked is the maintenance of certain equipment long after the architect and contractors are paid and gone.  In particular, concessions might have been made in regards to the duct work for your kitchen exhaust system.

It is important to know how the Kitchen Exhaust System works.  The exhaust fan pulls away the smoke and the grease from the vent hood in the kitchen.  These two components are connected somehow by a series of duct work.  The most efficient way, not only in performance but in cost to maintain, is to have the exhaust duct work run vertically from the hood to the external exhaust fan above.  These are the most common systems, and you will find that there is a market value for cost to maintain these systems and keep them up to code.  However, there is always going to be the case where certain design or structural elements forbid the exhaust ducts to run vertically.  In these circumstances, a horizontal exhaust duct will have to be put in place to connect the vertical duct work together.  While not really affecting the performance of the system, the maintenance required is marginally more difficult based on the length of the horizontal run.  There are other factors dictated by the NFPA 96 code that pertain to horizontal duct work such as the required amount of access panels and the slope of the plane needed.  The bottom line is that any length of horizontal duct work is going to add to the scope of maintaining the system not only in time but in money.

It is always a good practice when budgeting to have a kitchen exhaust cleaning professional give their opinion during the design phase of your project.  Often these services can be offered at little to no cost depending on the size of the project.  In many cases, the initial cost of having the system designed and constructed to be maintenance friendly will be highly outweighed by the lower costs of keeping the system safe and up to code.

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