The kitchen ranges used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities accumulate grease inside the exhaust hood, which if left unchecked can become sticky and dirty exposing you, your employees and patients to fire and health hazards.
Healthcare engineers and facilities managers need to ensure that the kitchen exhaust hoods are being cleaned every 90 days by a contractor who is fully trained in accordance with the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA) regulations and procedures.
If possible, it’s best to have an IKECA-certified exhaust cleaning specialist (CECS) who will have been trained in best practices, completed 1,000 hours of work experience, and have passed a comprehensive exam on industry guidelines, codes and standards.
An Overview of the Cleaning Process
A thorough servicing will include the cleaning of the hood, plenum, duct risers, filtration system and filters, grease boxes, kitchen equipment, exhaust fans, washable ceilings, floors, ductwork, and rooftop. The technician(s) will then use a power washing and steam cleaning process that cleans ductwork down to the “bare metal” and reaches into the depths of the duct for thorough servicing.
In addition, if the grease buildup is initially too excessive for power and steam cleaning, it’s important that the technicians conduct an initial scraping of the duct systems.
The cleaning procedure – step by step
Cleaning the Receptacles
Commercial hood cleaning starts with dismantling the exhaust system. Once the parts are dismantled, the next step is to remove the grease receptacles and thoroughly clean them.
Typically the receptacles slide outwards from the sides of the exhaust hood and any liquid found on the receptacles will be carefully removed and safely disposed. The receptacle is then soaked into a mixture of grease cutting detergent and hot water until the grease is completely removed. At which time the receptacles are taken out of the mixture and hung to dry.
While the receptacles soak, the inner surfaces of the exhaust hood will need to be scrubbed to remove any baked grease residue lining the interiors.
Cleaning the Filters
After removing the grease receptacles, it’s time to take down the filters from the commercial hood. The filters are soaked in a solution of detergent and hot water (note that the soaking time will vary based on the severity of the grease build-up.) As soon as the grease residue becomes loose enough, the filters will be taken out of the solution and lightly scrubbed to take off any remaining bits of residue. Once clean, they’ll be air dried before fitting them back into the hood.
Cleaning the Rest of the Commercial Exhaust Hood
A degreasing solution will be sprayed on the exhaust hood and will loosen any grease residue on the surfaces. The residue will fall off on its own and a sponge or cloth will be used to wipe the surfaces to remove any remaining residues.
If stubborn spots persist, a scraping will be done using nylon sponges and plastic scrapers to avoid damaging the surfaces of the hood. Afterwards the hood will be rinsed and dried at which point the filters will be replaced as well as the receptacles.
Cleaning the Rest
After the initial cleaning, it’s time for the power washing and steam cleaning portion of the job. This level of servicing will ensure that grease is removed from even the places in the duct that cannot be reached by hand.
Consider Professional Commercial Hood Cleaning
It would be misleading to say that you can’t clean your hoods on your own. However, for the most thorough and safe cleaning, it’s always best to hire a professional. Look for the following four qualities when hiring a contractor:
- IKECA membership – IKECA stands for the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association. Members of the association uphold the highest standards in kitchen exhaust cleaning.
- IKECA-certified exhaust cleaning specialist (CECS) – They will have been trained in best practices, completed 1,000 hours of work experience, and have passed a comprehensive exam on industry guidelines, codes and standards.
- Multiple cleaning methods – Exhaust cleaning isn’t just about hand scraping the grease off surfaces. Ask the contractor to walk you through all of the steps they take when servicing a kitchen hood. Steam cleaning and power washing should be part of the process.
- Help with servicing the larger air control system – The cleanliness of the kitchen exhaust system affects your entire air control system. A reputable hood cleaner will know this and offer suggestions on how to improve the entire air system of your facility overall.
Read more about the project AirTek completed for a Los Angeles health clinic.