Food establishments, like restaurants and caterers, are fraught with occupational hazards — not the least of which is the heat and smoke. Because of this, kitchen ventilation is essential in maintaining healthy indoor air quality in commercial kitchens. Good ventilation contributes to the design and operational efficiency of food establishments as well as the health and safety of employees and customers alike.
Why Proper Ventilation Is Vital in Commercial Kitchens
Different cooking areas require a specific amount of ventilation. This can be influenced by several factors including the products being cooked, the structure of the kitchen, the cooking equipment used, as well as local code regulations. The heat source in the building is also a contributing factor.
While these considerations can vary from one kitchen to another, proper ventilation is a requisite due to the following reasons:
- Temperature and air quality control – Kitchens can get increasingly uncomfortable for the staff working in them daily. Kitchens are extremely hot, but a dysfunctional HVAC system can make it too cold for the workers. Food preparation and cooking produce steam, smoke, odours, and food particles that can affect the eyes and skin. Commercial kitchen exhaust fans help screen out irritants in the air while controlling kitchen temperatures.
- Odour control – Odours that come from food and cooking are unavoidable. However, a good ventilation system prevents unpleasant odours from penetrating the dining area, bar, and other areas where customers stay. You can have your commercial kitchen ventilation arranged in a way that it produces negative pressure in the kitchen to restrict odours from customer spaces.
- Minimizing energy loss – An HVAC equipment or ventilation source replaces dirty kitchen air with clean air through exhaust systems. Unfortunately, this type of system also expends heating and/or cooling energy as smoke, odours, and particles are released from the building. However, an efficient kitchen ventilation system can reduce the ensuing energy loss.
- Prevention of contamination of your exhaust systems – Over time, dust, grease, and other waste materials carried by kitchen air can accumulate in ventilation systems. Ventilation ducts, fans, hoods, and the equipment itself must be cleaned regularly. Cleaning and maintenance, however, entail additional expenses for commercial kitchen owners. To minimize the contaminants building up on the equipment and ducting, ventilation systems must have a filtration system installed.
Components of a Commercial Kitchen Ventilation System
The removal of heat and smoke in kitchen environments is a complex process. A ventilation system consists of a number of parts, each playing an important role. Below are the components of a working kitchen ventilation system:
- Commercial kitchen hood – This is the central part of the interior exhaust system. The commercial kitchen hood is responsible for running the ventilation mechanism. It is installed above the cooking area so it can catch the smoke and debris emanating from the surface.
- Upblast exhaust fan – This component sits atop the restaurant’s exterior. Upblast exhaust fans are equipped with grease filters to make sure grease doesn’t spill out of the system and onto the roof of the restaurant.
- Makeup air unit – The makeup air unit replaces the contaminated air with cleaner air. This component can either be tempered or non-tempered. Makeup air units can replace a hundred percent of the exhaust air removed from the kitchen.
- Fire suppression system – Commercial kitchen hood systems must have fire suppression systems. It’s a requirement for fire suppression systems to pass a certification by extinguishing a 680-degree Fahrenheit oil fire, either via water or chemical agents. Fire suppression systems are generally mounted inside kitchen hoods.
- Hood filter bank – This component contains the grease filter which catches debris and oil before they can reach the exhaust system. Excess grease entering the exhaust system can speed up its decomposition, that’s why it’s necessary to always clean the hood filter to prevent buildup. Hood filters can be made of galvanized steel, stainless steel, or aluminum.
- Ductwork – The duct system connects the exhaust fan to the ventilation hood. How your ductwork is connected depends on the design of the building. Some exhaust systems are built with ductwork with one vertical section that traces directly to the roof. There are also systems that have vertical and horizontal sections. Complex ductwork systems are customized to fit the structural requirements of that facility.
Tips for Designing Commercial Kitchen Ventilation
Looking at designing or redoing your existing kitchen ventilation system? Consider the following suggestions to achieve peak ventilation system performance at a lower cost.
- Consider demand ventilation. A demand ventilation system has a built in mechanism that allows for automatic detection of heat, fumes, and other elements. This system only runs when needed which is a great way to lessen the cost that comes with operating a ventilation equipment. Using the system only at times when it’s most needed also helps it function more efficiently.
- Try extending the hood. Increasing the overhang on the hood can help improve its efficiency. Doing so also limits the intake of conditioned air in the kitchen.
- Use heavy-duty specialized filters. High-efficiency restaurant filters fare better in removing airborne contaminants and greases. Specialized filters reduce the need for frequent cleaning as well.
- Integrate kitchen ventilation and HVAC systems. Each system influences how the other functions. Systematic integration of ventilation and temperature controls can increase the effectiveness of both systems and improve operations.
- Seal the gaps. Gaps present in your cooking and ventilation equipment can lead to air loss. Seal these gaps to boost the efficiency of your ventilation.
Applying these improvements to your own space can help make your kitchen more efficient plus can make your guests more satisfied. If you believe your commercial kitchen ventilations needs more work, contact a professional remodelling contractor to expedite the process and avoid the hassle.
Get in touch with PT General Contractor Inc. We will work closely with you throughout every phase of the project and deliver high-quality work on time. Our team will provide expert advice and guidance from planning to completion. Call us at (416) 757-9100 to book an appointment with our restaurant contractor in Toronto.