In part one of this blog series we discussed the basics of restaurant exhaust fans as well as the two most commonly used upblast exhaust fans — belt drive and direct drive. Today we’ll be going over exhaust fan cleaning and general maintenance.
Restaurant Exhaust Fan Cleaning
Exhaust fans require cleaning on a regular basis in order to keep grease, dirt, and other contaminants from building up in the hood and ductwork, and a greasy exhaust fan will clog up the works in more ways than one.
Regular exhaust fan cleaning is necessary in order for your exhaust system to run efficiently and keep it in good working order. And one of the most important reasons to keep your exhaust fan clean is to reduce your risk for fire. In addition, exhaust fan cleaning is required by NFPA fire codes and may also be enforced by state and local laws.
How often you clean your kitchen exhaust system depends on a number of factors, but regular maintenance is important no matter what. Power washing with a strong degreasing agent will take care of the day-to-day build up, but this has to be done carefully.
The chemicals in most degreasers, and the grease itself, are not good for the environment. Washing the exhaust fan where the runoff can contaminate ground water or soil, can also lead to costly fines. There are “green cleaning” methods that can be followed, which include trapping and properly disposing of dirty runoff water.
When cleaning an upblast fan, never place it upside down or past the perpendicular position as this will allow water and debris to run off into the motor and its housing. This shouldn’t be an issue if the fan is mounted with a hinge kit. This provides a safer and more efficient way to access interior mechanisms and keep the fan locked in place while servicing it. A hinge kit is also required by NFPA fire code standards.
For thorough cleaning, you will need a high-pressure washer for all exterior surfaces including underneath the fan blades. Pay attention to any electrical components and avoid getting them wet with cleanser. Utility fans that are affixed to the roof can be cleaned in much the same way as an upblast fan, by using the cleanout access port for access to the fan bowl.
Restaurant Exhaust Fan Maintenance
Most fan failures can be directly related to poor service and maintenance. For trouble-free operation of an exhaust fan, it is imperative to follow a schedule of regular maintenance check-ups.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when maintaining your fan:
- Do not attempt maintenance on a fan until the electrical supply as been completely disconnected.
- Always keep the fan discharge, and approaches to the ventilator, clean and free from any obstruction.
- Most often, fan motors are permanently lubricated but you should check the bearings periodically. If they have grease fittings, lubricate them each season. Bearings should be lubricated every 2 months. The type of grease and the amount of grease is shown to the right. CAUTION: Bearings are sealed and over-greasing them can cause damage. Do not grease until grease comes out of the seals and only add the appropriate amount.
- All fasteners should be checked for tightness each time maintenance checks are preformed prior to restarting unit.
- Fans require very little attention when moving clean air. However, oil and dust may accumulate and cause some imbalance. If the fan is installed in a corrosive or dirty atmosphere, periodically inspect and clean the wheel, inlet and other moving parts to ensure smooth and safe operation.
Download your free copy of our Restaurant Exhaust Fan Guide and get even more tips on efficient rooftop exhaust fan cleaning here. Plus, be sure to check out the next installment in our series on upblast exhaust fans where we’ll talk about common maintenance and repair issues.
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