Access doors, or access panels, are a vital component of the restaurant hood and duct exhaust system. They provide access to the entire system so that hood and duct cleaners can do a thorough cleaning job. When access doors are installed at proper intervals and have changes in the duct direction, even the hard to reach areas become accessible and much easier to clean. Without them, or not enough of them, parts of the hood and duct system cannot be cleaned. Dangerous grease will continue to build up; this grease build-up obstructs air flow and puts undue strain on the rooftop exhaust fan. Worse, grease accumulation provides fuel in the event of a fire. Access doors installed in the proper duct locations are a necessity, not just an option.
Omni’s first contributions to the restaurant protection industry included grease containment products like the Grease Gutter and Sidekick along with their absorbent filters. We soon added the Super Hinge line of hinge kits to the lineup. Then, we were often asked if we offered access doors. Access doors were an obvious fit to the niche we were trying to fill so we first became distributors for already established access door manufacturers. This worked fairly well for a while. However, many of our customers who were very impressed with the engineering that went into the creation of our Super Hinge thought we should consider introducing our own brand of Omni access doors. Their main problem with the access doors that were on the market at the time were the wing nuts used to tighten the door to provide an airtight seal to the duct. Wing nuts are small and difficult to hold and grasp, especially for hood cleaners who often had grease on their hands and fingers. They would often fall into the ductwork and other places where they were difficult and sometimes impossible to find. That left the doors unsecured which made them non-airtight. Another problem mentioned was strength and durability. Many doors were made of galvanized steel rather than stainless steel and some consisted of even flimsier material. Our customers looked to Omni to provide an improved alternative access door just like we did with grease containment and hinges.
Kevin Chwala, Omni’s founder and inventor of most of our products, put his creative mind to work once again. He wanted to come up with an access door that addressed the shortcomings our customers experienced with other doors. He first addressed the wing nut headache. Kevin figured out that the best way to avoid that problem was to make the Omni access door self-contained. He decided on the “Cam-Lock” design which is now patented. It consists of an easy twist knob on the front side which is attached to latches on the back side. The latches loosen when twisted open allowing the door to be removed and the duct cleaned. Then the door is latched shut and becomes airtight again. The knobs and latches are built right into the door; no wing nuts to lose or misplace!
Omni’s Access Armor
Kevin decided to use hi-grade 316 stainless steel instead of galvanized steel or some other weaker material. No more problems with durability! Another unique feature Kevin included was an octagonal configuration, rather than a rectangle or square. This eliminated sharp corners that could cut or gash service personnel. It also provided 8 corner contact points instead of 4 which increased the rigidity of the door. Templates were provided that made the job of cutting the duct so much easier. After receiving input from a number of end users, Kevin and others involved decided to start with three basic sizes, 9” x 12”, 12” x 15”, and 15” x 18”. We then contacted Underwriters Laboratories and succeeded in getting our access doors UL approved. We decided to name our creation Access Armor. It has been a resounding success. Thousands and thousands of Access Armor doors are now protecting restaurants throughout the country!
Some recent innovations include the addition of two new sizes. We now offer a 23” x 23” Access Armor that has a 20” x 20” opening; this keeps the door code compliant to permit personnel access. We also developed a 9” x 36” door—which we call the scraper door—which allows for easier access for grease scrapers and other cleaning tools. Another new creation is the Fire Wrap Hold Down Shield which holds fire wraps in place and eliminates the time-consuming need to re-wrap the ducts after cleaning.
Omni’s Fire Wrap Shield
The Omni Access Armor has become the go-to access door solution for hood cleaning companies across the nation. Like the Grease Gutter and the Super Hinge before it, the Access Armor is the best option of its kind in the industry. Don’t take our word for it; ask anyone who has installed one!