Prevent Duct Fires Through Optimized Hood Filter Cleaning Methods

In the US alone, there were over 7410 structure fires in eating and drinking establishments between 2010 and 2014. These
fires resulted in over $165 Million in lost property, three civilian deaths, and over a hundred injuries.

Did You Know? Every year, thousands of fires are started in commercial kitchens, often resulting in injury or death as well as loss of property. These fires are, for the most part, preventable. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 20 percent of fires in eating and drinking establishments had “failure to clean” as a listed cause. Fire suppression systems, while generally reliable, can fail, allowing fire to spread quickly.

The Dangers of Improperly Cleaned Hood Filters

Fat, oil and grease accumulated in hood filters cause ducts to become lined with combustible, greasy residue. This is why regular cleaning of hood filters is such an important task in any kitchen. While your kitchen may maintain a strict cleaning schedule, combustible residue can easily start to build in hard to reach places, creating a fire hazard in a short period of time. Industry standards dictate that equipment be cleaned to bare metal– Grease and residue must be removed from all equipment; failure to do so can result in compliance issues with regulatory bodies, and the risk of starting a fire is greatly increased.

As any seasoned restaurant professional knows, cleaning grease-prone areas and kitchen equipment is a tiresome, costly affair. Although necessary to prevent fires in the kitchen, cleaning the hood and other equipment requires additional labor, affecting the restaurant’s productivity in the kitchen. Manual cleaning can be unreliable, as staff may miss spots that are hard to reach. As a result, the cleaning of hood filters in particular can be a neglected task.

Fires in ducts are fairly common, and are usually started by alcohol vapors from flambeing, overheated fat in a pan, or a faulty electrical connection somewhere in the duct system. While there are safeguards in place in all industry standard equipment, such as fire suppression systems, safety measures such as a meticulous cleaning schedule are the best ways to prevent a fire from happening in the first place. 

Traditional Cleaning Methods vs Self-Cleaning with Appropriate Equipment

Conventional cleaning methods can be arduous and inefficient. They often require long soaking periods, followed by scrubbing. By cutting out this process by using a  dedicated piece of equipment, the kitchen team can focus on other duties. The Hyginix FOG Tank is an easy solution.

Essentially, the FOG tank- FOG being an acronym for fat, oil and grease- allows equipment to soak thoroughly in much less time and much more efficiently than through traditional methods such as hand scrubbing, power washing or running through a dishwasher. While cleaning a typical hood filter by hand would take roughly 5 hours, the FOG Tank is able to clean anywhere between 6 and 28 hood filters, depending on size, in less than 4 hours. The food industry is second only to the war industry as being the driving factor behind new technology, and the FOG Tank is an example of evolving technology in the industry. The key difference stems from the efficiency of a dedicated  system- rather than relying upon employee labor. The Tank provides the same results time after time, saving labor cost for more meaningful tasks and ensuring safe and efficient removal of grease and carbon.

Analysis on the FOG Tank’s abilities and uses

The FOG Tank is currently in use in several operations across the US, including hotels, casinos, and high volume fast food restaurants. It has gained a loyal following due to its ability to clean heavily soiled equipment while using minimal water and product. It comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from 25 gallons to 125 gallons, making it a functional piece for operations of all sizes.

The FOG Tank comes with its own cleaning powder, known as Tiger Carbon Remover Powder, which is added to the soak tank and effectively removes carbon build up on steel equipment, allowing bare metal to shine through without any stains or residue remaining. The powder is environmentally friendly, non caustic, non toxic, aluminum safe, biodegradable, and- of course- food safe. Other operations have had equal success in cleaning heavily soiled metal equipment as well as melamine trays, which speaks to the versatility of the FOG Tanks cleaning abilities.

 

Using the FOG Tank is simple!

  1. Fill the tank with hot water, plug into an electrical outlet and turned on
  2. Add the Tiger Carbon Remover Powder
  3. Place any dirty pots, pans, hood filters and other soiled equipment in the solution to soak for anywhere between 1 and 4 hours. (The tank comes equipped with a basket, so the equipment is easily removed once it’s been soaked)
  4. Hose down the appliances to remove any carbon fragments still present
  5. Use your fully sanitized, the equipment is fully sanitized and ready to use.

Best of  all, the water in the tank can be reused for up to a month, saving on water bills and cleaner. It also has a sensor that shuts off the system once it’s reached a certain point, meaning your team can leave items that are in use all day- such as the hood filters- in the tank overnight to soak without using electricity unnecessarily.

Cleaning Schedules to Ensure A Properly Maintained Hood Vent System

 The FOG Tank’s varied sizing and ease of use make it a commodity in restaurant operations of all sizes and service levels.  Food service operations that run for 24 hours are required to have their entire hood ventilation system inspected on a quarterly basis; cleaning should be done on no less than a monthly basis in order to keep in compliance with health and safety codes.  The same is equally true for wood-burning facilities, as well as kitchens that utilize charcoal, as flammable creosote buildup happens quickly and poses a real threat to the restaurant.

High volume restaurants and restaurants that fry foods regularly should clean their ducts no less that once a quarter. If your kitchen changes frying oil more than once a week, your operation falls under this category. Most fast food establishments, Chinese restaurants and busy pubs would need to adhere to a minimum 90 day hood cleaning schedule.

While restaurants that don’t fry often or use solid fuel sources don’t build up oils, grease, or creosote as quickly, their hood systems should still be cleaned every 6 months or so. Pizza restaurants typically fall into this category, and while they have their own unique fire prevention issues, the hood ventilation system still must be maintained in order to adhere to health and safety codes as well as reduce any risk of hood and duct fires.

Of course, the best way to properly maintain ventilation systems is to ensure that filters are cleaned regularly. The FOG Tank provides an easy solution to regular filter cleaning, making it a more manageable task and therefore more likely to be done on a consistent basis.