In this article by Robert Fiorito, he discusses the importance of day to day awareness in the kitchen. During daily operations, the threat of fire can be a fleeting thought when the restaurant is slammed busy or even in the slower down times. These lapses in awareness allow for the possibility of kitchen fires. Minimizing these lapses comes down to proper training, preventative maintenance, and proper inspection/cleaning schedules. All kitchen fires can be prevented with the proper systems in place. Follow this link to learn more.
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.
As a former restaurant manager, I relied on my Kitchen Exhaust Cleaner to help manage and maintain my exhaust system. Making sure a restaurant is within NFPA 96 code and safe from potential fire, are two paramount responsibilities of any exhaust cleaning company.
Like most front of house managers, I was naive to the importance of maintaining the exhaust system properly. I had a maintenance program set up for our baffle filters and polished our hoods, but that was the extent of my involvement. I put my trust in the hood cleaner to manage the rest.
The “bottom line” is always at the forefront of running any business. With that in mind, another exhaust cleaner approached me, and he was able to under bid my current vendor by a significant amount. I was operating under the misconception that the service and product would be equal, so I went with the lowest bid and based by decision solely on price. The service seemed to be the same and both parties seemed happy with the relationship.
After leaving this particular restaurant to come work with Hood Boss, the opportunity to inspect and bid my previous workplace presented itself. Now, on the other side of the relationship as a vendor, I understand the meaning of, “inspect what you expect.”
The previous company had not held up its responsibility to maintain the system properly. Horizontal duct work had not been serviced and thus leaving the system at risk of fire. The exhaust fans had been neglected which caused expensive roof damage. There were inaccessible areas that had not been addressed that resulted in excessive grease build up. I thought that the kitchen exhaust cleaning company I selected was handling all of these issues, and I was unaware of the neglect, potential hazards, and damage that was being done by the improperly handling of the job that they were hired to do.
Whether it was neglect or incompetence, these issues were not managed properly. Following up with your vendor’s work is an important part of managing your exhaust system. Managing you exhaust system properly will reduce the risk of fire and prolong the life of your system. Most companies offer complimentary inspections of your system. I recommend having your exhaust system periodically inspected by another cleaning company
If you have any questions or concerns, go to our website www.thehoodboss.com or call 972-704-1812.
As a restaurant manager, there are a lot of maintenance programs that you monitor on a weekly basis. None should be more important than the maintenance of your exhaust system. Setting up proper maintenance of your exhaust system between services helps reduce the risk of fire in your facility, and it can actually help decrease the frequency of your exhaust system cleanings.
In our published article on the Hood Boss website titled, “Baffle Filter Cleaning,” we discuss the importance of proper maintenance of your baffle filters. The cleaning of your baffle filters is very important due to the fact that a standard baffle filter collects 30-40% of grease that enters your system.
Another portion of your exhaust system that should be maintained on a regular basis is the filter track. The filter track is the bottom portion of the hood that your filters sit in and allows the filters to drain the grease that they collect. As the grease drains out of the filters, it follows the channel over to the grease cup that collects the run off from the filters. The grease that collects in this track and the grease collector become a fire hazard faster than the rest of the system.
If you are unaware of what level of grease accumulation requires cleaning, please read our article, “When to Clean your Kitchen Exhaust Hood.” The lower filter track and grease collector should be cleaned out when the baffle filter cleaning occurs for each exhaust system in your facility. To clean out the filter track you only need a hand towel to drain the grease to the grease collector and another to wipe out the track when finished.
Cleaning the lower filter track when you are removing the filters for their scheduled maintenance can help reduce heavy accumulation between cleanings. In some cases, this maintenance can help extend the amount of time between exhaust cleanings of your system and reduce the risk of fire due to heavy accumulation. We recommend putting a maintenance plan in place for your hood system and monitoring the grease accumulation with a grease comb. If you do not have a grease comb, you should reach out to your hood cleaning provider. If they do not have them, please give us a call and we would be more than willing to get you one.
If you have any questions on how to set up a proper maintenance schedule for your exhaust system, please give us a call at 972-704-1812 or visit us at www.thehoodboss.com.
Cleaning and inspection of your commercial kitchen exhaust system at regular intervals is required by the International Fire Code and the NFPA 96. The immediate cooking area should be properly maintained on a regular basis by the restaurant owner and staff such as the cleaning of the back splash, the canopy of the range hood, and the required cleaning if the filters.
The cleaning interval of the baffle filters that is sometimes overlooked. Although the kitchen exhaust system beyond the immediate cooking area must be completed by a trained and certified company, baffler filters are something that should be maintained weekly or even daily by the the restaurant.
NFPA 96 Fire Codes for Hood Grease Filters
- 6.1 Grease Removal Devices
- 6.1.1 – Listed grease filters, listed baffles, or other listed grease removal devices for use with commercial cooking equipment shall be provided
- 6.1.2 – Listed grease filters and grease removal devices that are removable but not an integral component of a specific listed exhaust hood shall be listed in accordance with UL 1046
- 6.1.3 – Mesh filters shall not be used unless evaluated as an integral part of a listed exhaust hood or listed in conjunction with a primary filter in accordance with UL 1046
- 18.104.22.168 – Grease filters shall be listed and constructed of steel or listed equivalent material.
- 22.214.171.124 – Grease filters shall be of rigid construction that will not distort or crush under normal operation, handling, and cleaning conditions
- 126.96.36.199 – Grease filters shall be arranged so that all exhaust air passes through the grease filters.
- 188.8.131.52 – Grease filters shall be easily accessible and removable for cleaning.
- 184.108.40.206 – Grease filters shall be installed at an angle not less than 45 degrees from the horizontal