Kitchen Ducts and the Invisible Enemy

kitchen ducts extraction grease build-up

Whilst commercial kitchen ducts may be out of sight, they shouldn’t be out of mind as grease build-up is one of the most common causes of fire & other safety concerns within the foodservice industry. Taking a look at our news updates alone is a clear indication that grease fires are all too common, and our stories are not even the tip of the iceberg.

Just because you can’t see the grease inside your kitchen ducts, doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. Much of airborne grease bypasses traditional metal the hood filters, allowing it to accumulate inside ducting, fans, and other components of the extraction system. Over time, the levels of build-up become a potential hazard that must be remedied within a timely and routine manner:

disposable kitchen grease filters would prevent this build-up

Flames, sparks, and hot gases from cooking can ignite combustible grease deposits inside kitchen ducts, which will quickly spread around the building. The consequence of a fire taking hold inside the ducting can be enormous, not only to the property, lives of occupants, and fire-fighters but to a business’s bottom line. Business interruption costs are likely to have a significant impact, as an out-of-action kitchen is catastrophic to any foodservice establishment.

kitchen grease duct fires

As well as reducing the risk of fire, routine cleaning of commercial kitchen ducts and all other parts of the extraction system:

Commercial kitchens need to ensure they pay close attention to maintaining their kitchen ducts, since claims arising from fires caused by poorly maintained kitchen exhaust systems regularly cross insurers’ desks, and many of these fires could have been avoided with good risk management practices.


Risk Assessment & Staff Training

In order to be proactive when it comes to kitchen maintenance, consider the below:

The training and expertise of staff are crucial in reducing the risk of fire. Staff should know how to use commercial cleaning chemicals, and know what to do in the event of a fire. It is vital that all staff understand the risks of grease in extraction systems as well as how to avoid unsafe practices.

It should also be compulsory for staff to undergo safety training to learn how to isolate the extractor fan or identify faulty controls and sensors.

Keeping records of staff training and property maintenance is essential. Should there be a fire or accident, all these records may provide the only defence against criminal prosecution for non-compliance.

A daily/weekly check and clean schedule should also be part of routine procedures to ensure that kitchen grease filters stay clean and the hood behind the filters is within acceptable levels of grease contamination.

kitchen ducts inspections and cleans are disruptive and costly

False Economy

There are numerous reasons why some businesses fail to pay enough attention to cleaning their extraction systems, but the top two are:

  1. Ignorance – Many insurance policies contain specific conditions relating to regimes of kitchen extraction cleaning. If a fire occurs within the extraction system , it could jeopardise a claim for loss or damage.
  1. Cost ($$$) – Due to the current economic climate caused by a global pandemic, reason two is the main culprit that prevents businesses from ensuring that regulations are followed. As Sushil Wadhwa once said however:

“If Shahjahan had settled for the lowest quote, we wouldn’t have the Taj Mahal.”

The same applies when it comes to reviewing the quotes you have sourced to do your next kitchen exhaust system clean.


Cowboy Cleaners

The Shepherd Filters team spends a lot of their time educating restaurant owners on the specific requirements in cleaning kitchen extraction systems. Many restaurant owners, building management companies and yes some facility and maintenance directors just don’t know what is required. Most do not know minimum acceptable levels of grease in exhaust systems. Most often, owners and managers are misled by unqualified contractors and untrained personal to believe that cleaning the hood and attaching a certificate of cleaning is sufficient enough to keep them compliant with authorities. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge could potentially haunt an owner when a fire occurs.

So before you choose a cleaning contractor, owner/managers must be aware that some of these ‘experts’ have been known to quite literally cut corners. Bends and corners of ducts, which trap highly flammable grease deposits, are hard to access so can be all too easy to ignore. A good competent contractor will always ensure a thorough, deep clean is carried out.


Surely there’s a solution that minimizes grease build-up for the long-term, right?

In short, yes! The Shepherd Filters solution is revolutionary for the commercial kitchen industry by making it smarter, cleaner, safer, and more environmentally friendly.

As opposed to metal kitchen grease filters that only stop 20-40% of airborne grease from entering the hood and kitchen ducts, Shepherd Filters capture up to an impressive 98%! This reduces the grease build-up that enters the plenum, ductwork, fans, and roofs dramatically and therefore decreases the risk of catastrophic fires.

Quick, easy to install, & disposed of in seconds, changing Shepherd Filters is a welcome alternative to degreasing filters. A grease build-up heavily-reduced for the long-term, instant savings are made to:

award winning disposable kitchen grease filters product solution minimises fire risk in restaurants, motel and other commercial foodservice venues and protects the kitchen exhaust ventilation duct video

Shepherd Filters are made from 100% wool, which is a renewable resource. The filter media is carbon-neutral and will break down in landfill.

To find out if Shepherd Filters is right for your business, contact us today!

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