Whether you run a restaurant, hospital, school, nursing home or any place with a commercial kitchen or other ventilation needs, hood cleaning is a crucial component of facility health, maintenance, and compliance.
What is Hood Cleaning?
Hood cleaning is cleaning and maintaining a kitchen exhaust or ventilation system to comply with the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and your local AHJ (Authorities Having Jurisdiction).
Complete hood cleaning includes maintenance of (but is not limited to) the following:
Exhaust ductwork and fans
The underside of the hood
The Plenum (the open space that leads into the exhaust ductwork)
Depending on how often and to what intensity your hoods are used, cleaning maintenance of your hoods will vary. To best maintain your commercial and industrial equipment, you’ll need to be mindful of three primary factors:
How dirty are my hoods?
How often does the NFPA prescribe my hoods to be inspected?
What (if any) additional local fire codes do I need to be aware of?
NFPA 96 Standards & Compliance
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is an international safety advisory organization that develops codes and best practices for fire prevention. In the US, they regulate commercial and industrial facilities through codes employed by various authorities.
The NFPA 96 is the “Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations.”
The NFPA 96 regulates how grease and hood filters should be installed and maintained for cleaning.
How Often Do Commercial Hoods Need to Be Cleaned?
According to NFPA 96, your hoods should be inspected (not necessarily cleaned) anywhere from every month to every year, depending on the frequency of use.
For example, a restaurant or manufacturing plant will likely need their hoods inspected every 1-3 months, while a nursing home or church may only have to have their hoods inspected every six months or even just once a year.
But NFPA 96 guidelines aren’t the only factor. You may notice grease buildup on your hood filters and determine they need to be cleaned sooner than expected.
To determine if your hoods have become too greasy, you may use a grease gauge (example pictured, used with permission from IKECA) to determine if your buildup is within the acceptable microns level.
Additionally, depending on your city or county, additional local regulations may require more frequent cleaning than the NFPA 96 mandates.
Remember: The NFPA 96 is the minimum requirement, not necessarily the only requirement.
NFPA 96 Inspection Frequency (Table 11.4)
Type/Volume of Cooking
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, such as churches, day camps, seasonal businesses, or senior centers
How Much Does Hood Cleaning Cost?
The price of hood cleaning depends on the size and complexity of your ventilation system. For the average commercial kitchen, you can expect hood cleaning services to cost at least $400-500 for a complete cleaning that follows NFPA 96.
You may be able to find cleaning for even less. However, it is important to note that you get what you pay for with hood cleaning.
Discount hood cleaning is often performed by a service company that isn’t certified by the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA) to perform NFPA 96 inspections. What’s more, these discount cleaning services have a reputation for cutting corners by only cleaning visible areas instead of removing panels to clean in unseen places.
Hood Cleaning Before & After
The Dangers of Poor Exhaust Maintenance
Failure to keep up with regular cleaning is a risk to compliance – which can result in costly fines and closures – and also a danger to your property, equipment, and personnel.
The primary risk is fire. Grease is a flammable substance. As it builds up, the chance of a grease fire intensifies.
Next is equipment damage. As the filter traps more grease, it does its job less effectively. The more grease in your filter, the more grease in the air collecting on machinery and equipment. As this grease builds up, your equipment has to work harder, causing machinery components to wear out quicker.
Finally, is the health factor. With dirty hoods comes poor indoor air quality. This, in turn, affects employee health, leading to more sick days and less efficient labor. Additionally, your food products become contaminated, leading to a loss in quality.
Certified Hood Cleaning Services from Service-Tech
Whether you need your regular NFPA 96 inspection, someone to help you determine if it’s time for a clean, or you’re ready to have all your vents and hoods thoroughly cleaned, Service-Tech is here for you.
We’re IKECA-certified to perform NFPA 96 inspections and service all your airflow systems. When you have your vents cleaned by Service-Tech, you get the same team that helps NASA, Nestle, GE, and many US government agencies keep their air clean and regulated.