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Hood Cleaning - What, When and Why

Despite the widespread use of hoods over commercial cooking systems, the cleaning or lack thereof continues to be the subject of risk control recommendations to owners of this equipment. Given the inherent fire hazard of having grease laden ducts inside the building, many owners neglect this risk management process. The neglect creates a severe fire hazard and often results in catastrophic damage to the building.

Who needs to do this

If you have a commercial kitchen and generate “grease laden vapors”, you are required to have an NFPA 96 compliant exhaust system with grease extractors over the cooking equipment. This requirement does not vary by fuel type. Gas, L.P., electric and solid fuels cooking all must be covered by a hood and have a fire suppression system. Our article on UL 300 systems offers more detail on the suppression systems.

What needs to be cleaned?

All kitchen hoods that convey grease laden vapors must be professionally cleaned. This includes the entire duct system as well as the hood and grease removal devices.

These systems draw in the grease laden vapors and the grease extractors separate the grease from the air stream. These hoods and the associated ductwork require professional cleaning to prevent a hazardous accumulation of grease.

How often should the system be cleaned?

The code specifies that when the grease accumulates to a depth of 0.078 inches, 1/32”, or 2 millimeters will trigger a cleaning. This is the thickness of a U.S. Quarter coin.

The frequency of grease level measurement is based on the type of cooking operations performed.

Documentation of cleaning

When the cleaning is completed, the servicing company should post a certificate showing the name of the servicing company, the date of cleaning and identifying the person who performed the service. This is customarily a tag affixed to the hood.

A written report is supplied to the owner that identifies any areas that were not cleaned or were inaccessible. If areas are inaccessible, the owner should make improvements to allow complete cleaning.

Insurance impacts

The lack of regular cleaning of a commercial hood that conveys grease laden vapors will prompt a recommendation from the insurance company. Restaurants and food service areas are high priority inspections for many insurance companies. The lack of required cleaning may trigger a rate increase for the property coverage or carriers declining to offer coverage or a renewal. Fires in dirty hoods are a known special hazard for the insurance industry and one that has driven adverse loss experience.

The Driehaus Difference

We know the requirements that protect your cooking operations and can help you implement proper inspections and cleaning programs. Having the right documentation is imperative to show the insurance company that proper controls are in place. We want to help you avoid getting recommendations from the insurance company.

We understand the unique coverage and exposures related to restaurants and commercial cooking operations. Give us a call at 513-977-6860 or contact us using our website, We look forward to helping you with your risk management and insurance needs.



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