Cleaning and Maintenance Q&A: Tom Gloster, field supervisor, Alpro Service Co., Brooklyn, N.Y.
FE&S: How often should a ventilation hood be serviced?
TG:These systems should be serviced and checked on a yearly basis since grease builds up inside the flue assembly.
FE&S: Describe the maintenance requirements for these systems.
TG:Straightforward ventilation systems have filters that should be cleaned at least weekly. These need to be removed and run through the dishwasher. It’s a simple task that is often ignored. Also, the interior of the hoods need to be wiped down and cleaned once or twice a year.
FE&S: Can operators handle basic cleaning or should this be contracted out?
TG:Most operators hire a company to do a full wash and wipe down.
FE&S: Are there signs that the cleaning schedule should be revised?
TG:On the back of every hood is a 3-inch-wide removable trough that runs the length of the unit to catch grease buildup from the screens. These need to be cleaned at the same time as the filters. If the troughs are overflowing, this may be a sign that there is not enough ventilation or the hood is being overused. In this case, these components will require cleaning more often.
FE&S: Are there automatic cleaning systems for ventilation equipment?
TG:Some systems are built to be self-washing and will clean automatically on a nightly basis. Although these units are not expensive to run, they are costly to install and maintain. We see most of these types in corporate locations.
FE&S: What are the signs that a ventilation hood should be replaced?
TG:This equipment is designed to put balance in the kitchen, with equal amounts of air going in and out. When a ventilation system is working properly, the flames on open burners will be pointed straight up. In a kitchen environment with too much air being taken out, the flames may get pulled down the burner toward the oven flue. If there’s not enough negative air, the oven will go out on a regular basis. When safety systems get overheated, the oven pilot goes out. HVAC companies can help properly balance a kitchen.