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How often should my kitchen exhaust system be cleaned?

According to NFPA-96 Standard (Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations) the following schedule shall be followed:

Exhaust System Inspection Schedule

Type or Volume of Cooking Frequency Frequency
Systems serving solid fuel cooking operations
Systems serving high-volume cooking operations such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling, or wok cooking
Systems serving moderate-volume cooking operations
Systems serving low-volume cooking operations (churches, day camps, seasonal businesses, or senior centers).


What components of a kitchen exhaust system should be typically cleaned?

According to NFPA-96 section 11.6.1: “Upon inspection, if found to be contaminated with deposits from grease-laden vapors, the entire exhaust system shall be cleaned by a properly trained, qualified, and certified company or person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction in accordance with Section 11.4.”

The entire exhaust system includes the hood, filters, fan and all associated horizontal and vertical ductwork.

What risks am I exposed to in not properly cleaning a kitchen exhaust system?

Grease and particulate buildup in the exhaust system is a fire hazard, and greatly impacts on the efficiency and lifetime of mechanical equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the majority of restaurant fires originate on the kitchen cooking appliances and flare into the kitchen exhaust system. If the entire exhaust system is not cleaned, a significant risk for fire exists whenever cooking appliances are used.

Why do I need access panels installed in my exhaust system?

Access panels may be necessary to properly reach and clean areas of the exhaust system. Sometimes at the construction of the exhaust system, the proper amount of access panels needed to maintain the cleanliness of the system may not have been installed. This prevents a complete cleaning of the system and increases the risk of fire. NFPA recommends installation every 12 feet of duct-work.

Why do I need to have hinges installed on my exhaust fans?

NFPA 96 8.1.1 states that all approved Upblast fans be installed with hinges. A fan with fixed positions is far more stable and less likely to have problems with balance and bearing misalignment due to limited movement allowed during the cleaning and inspection process. Properly installed hinge kits may add to the strength of the base and assist in minimizing metal fatigue over the years in larger fans.