A commercial kitchen is a bustling environment as chefs create their culinary artistry that is full of flames, heat, and smoke. Luckily, commercial kitchens are designed to create a perfect balance of air movement. When the kitchen air movement is functioning correctly it creates a comfortable environment. However, if the air movement is inhibited, the commercial kitchen can become quite unpleasant. The old phrase, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out the kitchen”, suddenly becomes sound advice. Because if the commercial kitchen is not circulating air properly, all those flames, heat, and smoke become trapped. This creates an unhealthy environment for anyone to work in.

It takes several sources of air to create the perfect balance within a commercial kitchen. The three main sources of air within a commercial kitchen are known as:

  1. Transfer Air: The freestanding fresh air in the commercial kitchen.
  2. Supply and Return Air: The air provided by the HVAC system.
  3. Exhaust and Make-Up Air: The air provided by the kitchen ventilation system.

Balancing the air systems in a commercial kitchen can be challenging when considering all the independent air sources that co-mingle in one space. The circulation of air is what makes the kitchen environment comfortable and healthy for kitchen employees. Remove one side of this air circulation, it can become disastrous. Kitchen exhaust cleaning technicians are vital to maintaining this delicate balance of air. They are the professionals that will inspect, clean, and help maintain the make-up air.

Kitchen exhaust cleaners are tasked with cleaning a restaurant’s kitchen exhaust system from the hood canopy, ductwork, and kitchen exhaust fan. The exhaust fan unit is the essential piece to air movement in a kitchen ventilation system. It creates a draft in the hood canopy and the duct system to remove the vapors and effluent. If the exhaust fan fails, the entire kitchen exhaust ventilation stops. Cleaning and maintaining rooftop exhaust fans is critical for kitchen exhaust professionals. It can also be one of the more challenging parts of the job. Access can become an issue because when a fan unit is installed, code requirements state that an exhaust system must terminate outside the building with a fan or duct and the roof or a wall.

Rooftop or wall exhaust fans have multiple surfaces for grease accumulation including fan blades and the motor casing. These areas must be properly cleaned and maintained. Exhaust fans can fail due to heavy grease build up which puts stress on areas such as the fan motor, bearings, and drive belt. With the importance of proper maintenance and the difficulty of access to the kitchen exhaust fan the TEGRAS equipment can help you tackle this important task with ease.

The Standard Practice

Typical kitchen exhaust fan cleanings usually involve a standard power wash truck or van. Usually the trucks/vans have a hot water pressure system in the back and the kitchen exhaust cleaners will position their vehicle somewhere on the back side of the building where they can have easy access to run the hose up to the roof or wall. From there, cleaners will drag a pressure line up to the roof or wall kitchen exhaust fan and prepare the area for spraying.

Typical kitchen exhaust fan cleanings usually involve the application of chemical and scraping of the duct. The chemical is typically applied using a pump-up sprayer. Once everything is ready, the cleaner will tilt the fan to gain access to the ductwork and begin scraping. Once scraped the cleaner will take the sprayer and coat the entire duct and exhaust fan with their chosen chemical/foam. Depending on the pump-up sprayer this could involve multiple refills. In addition, there are different tips that can be attached to this sprayer to help it reach difficult angles and get into the tight nooks and crannies of exhaust fan and blades. If the cleaner does not have a one-size-fits-all tip, then they will need to change this out in-between sprays.

Once the chemical has set for the designated time, the cleaners will switch over to power washing to rinse with hot water and pressure to remove the chemical and grease. They may need to reapply the chemical until all the grease is removed and washed away. Once all the grease is gone, a high-pressure hot water rinse will finish the process.

The TEGRAS Method

Active Foam

As with the standard method, application of the chemical is fundamental to the entire process. The COMEGRAS chemical is the champion of the TEGRAS methodology. It is extremely effective on all types of grease and is unlike many chemicals because it is formulated to create a heavy-duty active foam. When the active foam is applied it clings to the exhaust fan blades and surfaces. Dwell time is key. The active foam will go from white to orange in color as it breaks down the grease. The foam will cling and pull down the grease. With adequate dwell time, a light rinse will remove all remnants of grease, leaving a bare-metal clean.

Application of Chemical

The TEGRAS method automates this procedure with the active foam generators, the IFOAM COMPACT. This machine was specifically designed to be lightweight and portable. It regulates all the degreasing foam parameters, guaranteeing the perfect adherence of the chemical to any surface. With a simple push of a button the IFOAM COMPACT applies the active foam, COMEGRAS. There is less waste than other chemicals that often require reapplication. The active foam generators apply the perfect composition of chemicals.

When cleaning the duct, utilize the IBRUSH. This machine was also specifically designed to be lightweight and portable. An important element when cleaning kitchen exhaust fans. Hook up the IFOAM active foam generator to the IBRUSH duct brushing robot and you’ll be ready to clean ducts in no time! It also features a built-in compressor, so you don’t have to worry about that power source. It is completely electric, making it ideal for use in places with limited accessibility.

Rinsing the Kitchen Exhaust Fan and Duct

With the TEGRAS method, no additional equipment is needed. The active foam generator, the IFOAM COMPACT, provides everything you need to clean to clean the exhaust fan in a single unit. These units switch from chemical application to rinse mode with a push of a button. The COMEGRAS chemical does most of the work, the kitchen exhaust fan requires only a light rinse. These machines are ideal for the most demanding hood cleaning!

As a kitchen exhaust cleaner, you want to ensure that not only are your customers happy, but their air movement is in perfect balance. The easier that job is for you and your employees, the better. When you receive your TEGRAS equipment, you will have peace of mind knowing that your machine is going to save you time and money, and these latest advancements make the process even easier! Contact Omni Containment Systems today to learn more about how the TEGRAS concept can help your business grow or if would like further information on the new equipment.