Access Panels are Significant to Keeping Exhaust Ductwork Clean

Restaurants across the country are beginning to open their doors for pickup and delivery. Some are even opening their doors for a limited number of sit-in service. It's great news to hear.

While much of the country has been in a shutdown, restaurant managers and owners have been working hard to be ready to open up their doors. Cleaning has been a vital part of running a successful restaurant before the COVID crisis. Now, more than ever, proper cleaning will be under the scrutiny of everyone that walks through your doors. Like before, it's even more imperative that your kitchen is in the best possible condition, and that means adhering to strict cleaning schedules and passing inspections.

The Kitchen Exhaust System's Main Function is Safety

For a restaurant to be successful, there must be daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedules, especially in the kitchen. The kitchen's exhaust system is critical to the safety of restaurant employees and patrons by filtering the contaminants out of the air during the cooking process.

Keeping your kitchen's exhaust system clean is an expense that every restaurant manager or owner must work into the operation's budget. When your food preparation consists of lots of greases, especially deep-frying, the more your equipment requires deep cleanings.

The Perils of Grease Buildup in Exhaust Ductwork

It's critical to understand all the "fire risks in commercial kitchens" to keep your restaurant establishment safe for everyone. "Flames, sparks and hot gases from food preparation, which can ignite residues in exhaust ducts" can go undetected and unseen until it's too late to avoid severe damage. Not to mention the potential harm to human life.

Access Panels are Necessary for Proper Ductwork Cleaning

Section 4.1.8 of the NFPA-96 states that "all interior surfaces of the exhaust system shall be accessible for cleaning and inspection purposes." With that requirement, access panels must be accessible every 12 feet in the ductwork.

Earlier this year, the Restaurant Facility Management Association (RFMA) held its 2020 conference in Denver, CO, just before our country's shutdown. An educational and insightful presentation, "Kitchen Exhaust Past, Present and Future," is worth your time to review.

Slide 44 - Visual Installation of Access Panels in Exhaust Ductwork

  • "Horizontal duct shall have at least one 20" x 20" opening for personnel entry or an access panel every 12 feet and at each change of direction."
  • "Access panels shall be of the same material and thickness, or UL Listed, and shall be grease tight."

Slide 45 - Further Explanation of Access Panels

  • "Access panels are installed for both inspection and servicing of the system. Use only NFPA 96 compliant."
  • "A sign shall be placed on all access panels stating the following: ACCESS PANEL - DO NOT OBSTRUCT."

Proper Installation of Access Panels is Critical

Slides 46, 47, and 48 will help you understand what is not acceptable and what is. As found on Williams Brothers Corporation of America, further explains four requirements to follow regarding access panels. Under "construction and installation," there are four conditions to note.

  1. "No sharp edges that could cause accidental injury"
  2. "Tight-fitting latch that is substantial enough to hold the door closed"
  3. "Opening that doesn't require a tool to access"
  4. "Tight-fitting steel door that meets thickness requirements for your specific duct"

Minimize the Possibility of Kitchen Fires

The mere fact that commercial kitchens work in a fast-paced environment leads to the possibility of "multiple fire hazards," found on Facility Executive, with "4 tips to reduce risk."

  1. "Maintain Electrical Equipment"
  2. "Minimize Grease"
  3. "Clean Exhaust Hood System"
  4. "Prepare an Escape Plan"

If you're looking for the professional and expert team to keep your kitchen exhaust hood system clean, the team at Pronto MS would like to partner with you. We are proud to serve the Midwest, and when you request our service, we respond pronto.