According to the U.S Fire Administration, between 2011 and 2013, around 5,600 restaurant fires were reported each year.
We all know working in a kitchen is full of many different kinds of hazards and potential risks.
Accidental fires can happen when it comes to working with burners, oil and electric wiring in a fast-paced environment. It is unavoidable that one small mistake will cause a fire whether from faulty equipment or simple human error.
However, there are other kinds of fires that can be prevented, such as ones from built up grease in ducts. This build up of grease can lead to other problems in the kitchen as well, all of which can be avoided by keeping those ducts clean.
This is why it is vital for all restaurants to take as many precautions as they can to keep those ducts sparkling.
An important part of doing that is with duct access doors.
Duct Access Doors- What Are They?
Simply put, they are doors installed into your kitchen ducts that allow cleaners easy access to the inside of those ducts so that they may clean them thoroughly and to a safe standard.
Often when a kitchen is constructed, the access doors are too small to be used properly or there are not enough doors installed within the ducts for the cleaners to do their job well.
The access doors you install should be:
- Of a size so that a grown person can crawl inside (at least 20" by 20")
- Placed once every 12 feet of duct length
- Made of the same kind of material and thickness as the ducts (16 or 18-gauge steel)
- Installed 1 1/2 inches away from the edge of the duct
There are different custom access doors available and you can choose if you'd prefer to have the doors installed on the tops of the ducts or on the sides. The main thing to keep in mind is that the ducts need to be easily reachable for cleaning.
Why Are They Important?
It can be easy to overlook the importance of duct access doors, but we're here to help you realize why they are a key part in the safety and cleanliness of every restaurant kitchen.
The first and most important fact is that proper access doors to your ducts are part of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) fire codes, specifically #96, and it is required for every restaurant to follow those codes.
Make sure to read up on them so that you know exactly what is expected of you and your kitchen. It is your responsibility to inspect and test your exhaust system frequently to ensure it is clean and well-ventilated in accordance with those codes.
Any kind of damage caused by the poor upkeep of your ducts is on your shoulders. Having proper doors installed will only make the job of regularly checking your ducts easier.
All cooking leads to grease entering the ducts, which will continue to build up over time. It doesn't matter if your kitchen is themed around using the healthiest of ingredients or makes constant use of a deep fryer. Filters and other precautions might help the rate in which this build up grows, but they can only do so much. The ducts will get dirt, grime, and grease caught inside of it eventually, despite everything you may do to keep it from happening.
If this build up is not removed on a regular basis, it will cause all kinds of problems for you and your kitchen.
The greatest danger is a risk of fire. This is because, as you know, grease is highly flammable. As it collects in the ducts around you, the risk for a fire grows exponentially.
Grease thickens as it cools and will cause ventilation problems, clogging up any piping or ducts as air tries to escape. It also can have a lingering and unpleasant odor that will infect your restaurant. Grease also is attractive to unwanted flies and other vermin, which is another penalty to your kitchen's sanitation.
Grease is not the only thing you'll have to worry about. Airborne filth such as dust or smoke will cling to and dirty your duct as well.
Having a good regimen to keep your ducts clean will prevent all of these problems from harming your business.
How Often Should Ducts Be Cleaned?
The great thing about installing duct access doors is that they let you clean everything with as little hassle as possible. The question then turns to how often they need to be thoroughly cleaned?
The answer depends on the general kind of food that your kitchen makes.
If you serve food cooked with solid fuel, such as wood and charcoal, you'll need to clean your ducts every month.
If you serve food with a high-volume output, such as a 24-hour restaurant or one with a lot of smoke production, you'll need to clean your ducts once every three months.
If you serve food at a medium-volume output, such as a dinner-only kitchen, you'll need to clean your ducts once every six months.
If you serve food at a low-volume output, such as a church kitchen or a seasonal-specific business, you'll need to clean your ducts once a year.
To be considered properly cleaned, the metal of the ducts will need to be clearly visible. If you can see any kind of residue clinging to the metal, then it will need to be cleaned again. It may take several times for the ducts to be completely clean, especially if it has been a long time since they were last cleaned.
If you hire cleaners to do the job for you, you'll need to get some kind of receipt or other documentation from them showing who did the job, where they specifically cleaned. It'll need to show the name of the company and the date of the cleaning as well.
The cleaners will also need to tell you if there were areas of the ducts that were inaccessible. With this information, you'll be able to figure out better placement for your access doors.
All of this shows just how important access doors are for your own peace of mind, as well as the safety of your restaurant. Luckily, there are many different varieties of doors out there that will make it possible for you to find all the best duct access doors for your business.
Contact us if you have any questions or concerns!
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