Category Archives: Preventative Maintenance

Commercial Hood Systems - Central Restaurant Products

Restaurant Hood System: Why it Matters and Everything Your Kitchen Needs

The Importance of a Restaurant Hood System

restaurant hood system is an essential piece of equipment for a safe commercial kitchen. These ventilation systems are the first line of defense to preventing fires in the kitchen. Restaurant Hood Systems are designed to remove heat, smoke and grease laden vapors that are generated while cooking to keep your commercial kitchen running safely and efficiently. With proper airflow established, these systems also reduce odors, improve air quality, and lower energy consumption in your commercial kitchen. In addition to all of these crucial benefits, kitchen ventilation systems are required by fire and health inspectors as well as insurance providers.

Components of a Hood System

Vent Hood

Placed over cooking equipment. Designed to remove excess steam, water vapor, heat, grease, smoke, odor and flue gas from the kitchen environment. Available in two types – type I or type II

Hoods require hood filters. Filters are available in stainless steel, galvanized, or aluminum; Welded or riveted in construction.

Baffle Filter

Series of vertical baffles that live within the hood. The filter captures grease and drains it away into a container. Designed for easy removal for cleaning.

Exhaust Fan

Gets the air moving within the system – taking the “poor” air out of the kitchen. Installed on the outside of the building.

  • Belt Drive Fans
    • Driven by belt and motor pulley
    • Friction caused by belt can decrease efficiencies and cause more repairs
  • Direct Drive Fans
    • Blade fan wheel directly attached to axle
    • More efficient system with less moving parts and maintenance

Make-Up Air Unit

Brings in clean air to circulate through the kitchen to “make up” for the grease laden air being suction out by the fan. Installed on the outside of the building.

Variety of Hoods

Hood systems are made in a variety of types, styles, sizes, and shapes to best fit restaurant kitchens around the world. There are two primary types of hoods, as well as 6 styles.

TYPES

Type I          
  • Used for the collection and removal of grease and smoke
  • Always include listed grease filters or baffles for removal of grease
  • Required over restaurant equipment that produces smoke or grease-laden vapors. This includes: fryers, ranges, griddles, broilers, ovens, tilt skillets, etc.
Type II           
  • Considered general hoods for the collection and removal of steam, vapor, head and odors, where grease is NOT present
  • May or may not have grease filters or baffles
  • Typically used over dishwashers, steam tables, and the like
  • Can sometimes be used over ovens, steamers, or kettles if determined that they do not produce smoke or grease laden vapors

STYLES

Wall-Mounted Canopy Mounted flush with a wall and used for all types of cooking equipment located against a wall
Single Island Canopy Ceiling mounted over a single line cooking island and used for all types of cooking equipment
Double Island Canopy Ceiling mounted over a back to back cooking island and used for all types of cooking equipment
Backshelf Hood Used for counter height equipment. Normally located against a wall, but are also used as freestanding units
Eyebrow Hood Used for direct mounting to ovens, as well as some dishwashers
Pass-Over Style Hood Used over counter-height equipment when a plate pass-over configuration is required

When Are Hood Systems Required?

Hood systems are required in commercial kitchens where heating elements are used. Over stoves, fryers, grills, tilt skillets, etc. The size and type of system required depends on the type of equipment being used and the number of cooking units. Note that manufacturers now offer some ventless hood options where the units are self-contained with powerful fans. These units open up opportunities for kitchen design and use of the unit.

The size and style of restaurant hood system needed for a kitchen varies greatly depending on the equipment used and local codes. It is best to work through your specific kitchen layout with an industry expert for assistance purchasing the correct system. Our team of knowledge and friendly product consultants is always ready to help at 800.215.9293

What Hood Filter Does My Kitchen Need?

Two things to consider when selecting the right hood filter for your commercial kitchen are the volume of product being cooked and the visibility of the kitchen to customers. A high volume kitchen requires a heavy-duty filter to withstand the abuse it will be receiving, so a stainless steel or galvanized filter would best. Additionally, if the kitchen is visible to customers, a shiny filter such as stainless steel would be most attractive. Of these two considerations, the durability of the filter should be the primary concern.

Material:

  • Stainless Steel
    • Most durable and easiest to clean
    • Best for high-volume operations
    • Attractive, shiny finish
    • Most expensive material option
  • Galvanized
    • Strong and long lasting
    • High performance at an affordable price
    • Stands up to degreasers and cleaning chemicals
    • Metal may become discolored after using cleaning chemicals
  • Aluminum
    • Light weight and affordable
    • Prone to corrosion and damage
    • Attractive, shiny finish
    • Cannot use harsh degreasers and cleaning chemicals

Construction:

  • Welded
    • Baffles are made from the same single piece of metal as the frame
    • Back and front are welded together
    • Rigid and durable design – won’t easily bend
    • Heavy duty and long lasting
  • Riveted
    • Made of multiple pieces held together by rivets
    • Series of individual baffles inside filter
    • Somewhat flexible allowing rivets to loosen over time
    • Less expensive, but less durable option

When Should Hood Filters Be Replaced?

There is no standard time frame of when hood filters should be replaced. While the filter could last a couple of years in some kitchens, it could last only 6 to 8 months in another. Factors to consider:

  • Type of filter
  • Type of operation
  • Level of maintenance

It is important to inspect hood filters on a regular basis for wear or damage. When a filter is damaged, it cannot effectively do its job and becomes a fire hazard. If a filter is worn, clogged, damaged, or has excessive grease build up, it should be replaced right away.

When purchasing a new hood filter, it is important to know that the actual size of the filter is about half an inch less than the size listed.There is no standard sizing for hood filters. Keep baffles vertical to measure your filter and know that the vertical dimension is followed by the horizontal dimension.

Example:

  • Actual size: 9-5/8″ x 15-3/4″ x 1-3/4″
  • Filter size: 10″x16″

Hood Filter Cleaning

Regular upkeep of your hood filter keeps your kitchen safe. If the filters are ignored, grease can build up and cause a number of problems including poor air quality, excess heat, increased utility costs, and fire hazard. A regular cleaning schedule will prolong the life of your filter and overall system, but keeping a safe and clean kitchen.

  • Dishwasher
    • Run commercial dishwasher on highest temperature
    • Avoid harsh cleaners
    • Inspect that all reside was removed before drying
  • Soak Tank
    • Investment that saves time and labor
    • Fill soak tank with water and add safe cleaner
    • Soak filter overnight and rinse in the morning before reinstalling
  • Hand Wash
    • Use hot, soapy water and non-abrasive sponge
    • Avoid using harsh chemicals
    • Dry immediately after washing

Time to Shop!

Have more questions? Or ready to design your restaurant hood system? Call us at 800.215.9293 for one on one assistance! You can also browse online at our full line of hood systems and components!

How to Clean a Commercial Griddle

If your restaurant uses a commercial griddle, especially in high volume, it is important to keep your griddle cleaned regularly. A clean griddle will not only last longer, but perform better, as carbonized grease can build up and prevent product from being evenly cooked. Here are some steps to take in order to keep your griddle clean and operating at peak efficiency.

Cleaning Your Griddlegriddle scraper

After each use, you should clean your griddle with either a wire brush or a grill scraper. Having worked several years behind a griddle in college, I swear by the grill scraper. It allows you to really get under and remove any debris or carbonized grease that builds up on the griddle plate and almost squeegee them off.

Once per day, clean the griddle backsplash, sides and front. All sorts of grease and cooking liquids can accumulate in these areas, so make sure they get wiped down well! Remove, empty and wash the grease drawer. The grease drawer should be emptied as needed throughout the day, but at the very least, make sure you do it at the end of each day.

Once per week, you will want to clean your griddle surface thoroughly. grill brickTo do this, make sure your griddle surface is warm, but not hot. Then, using a grill brick, rub with the grain of the metal on the surface. Rubbing against the grain can create damage to your griddle plate, which can cause it to not cook as efficiently. Once the griddle is cooled, clean the surface with a damp cloth and polish with a soft, dry cloth or griddle pads.

If necessary, you can use a detergent to help clean the plate surface, but if you do, be sure it is removed thoroughly by flushing with clear water. Should you use detergent, you should take steps to re-season your griddle. To do so, follow these steps below.

Seasoning Your Griddle

In order to season your griddle, you will first heat your griddle to a low temperature, around 300°F to 350°F. Then, apply a small amount of cooking oil (around one ounce per square foot of surface). Use a soft, lint-free cloth to spread the oil over the whole griddle surface, creating a thin film. Any excess oil can be wiped off with a cloth. Repeat this until the griddle has a slick, mirror-like finish. Seasoning your griddle helps keep products from sticking to the surface, which in turn makes it easier to clean!

Taking care of cleaning and seasoning your griddle can help extend your griddle’s life greatly, saving you from having to buy a new griddle before you’re ready. Check out our griddle cleaning products here.

Prolonging Your Refrigeration Equipment’s Life Through Preventative Maintenance

It’s Friday evening just before the dinner rush and you open your kitchen’s refrigerator. But instead of that welcoming, icy cool blast of air (that is usually so refreshing in contrast to the hot kitchen), you feel the luke-warm surprise of an under-performing refrigeration unit. Do you need a service call? A replacement? Could this have been prevented? In many cases, your unit may be just struggling to overcome the environment where it is located.

Regular Condenser Cleanings and Maintenance

You can lengthen the reign of your refrigerator with consistent preventive maintenance from the day you buy it. Your kitchen is a hot, damp, greasy and dusty environment that can negatively affect any piece of equipment. That is why it is important to regularly clean your unit’s condenser coils of dust and debris. Most manufacturer’s recommend a monthly check and cleaning that takes just minutes.

Cleaning Your True Condenser

Cleaning Illustrations from a True refrigerator manual

Manufacturers have made accessing the condenser relatively easy. In most cases, the front grill can be removed from your unit by turning a few screws or wing nuts. Here you will find the condenser which helps pull the heat out of your coolant and returns cooler air to the inside of your unit. If this bundle of fins, tubing and metal lattice is blocked, your refrigerator is being overworked when trying to maintain the proper temperatures. Use a heavy duty nylon wire brush to clear the fins in a top to bottom motion. Be careful not to poke or prod the tubing which can cause costly damage. Afterwards, you can use a shop vacuum to remove the smaller dust particles that remain. Usually, it is not necessary to use soap or water to clean this part. Your job is done when you can see through the condenser to the back of the unit.

Remember Your Fan Blades Too

While your maintenance access is open, check the fan motor and blades. Of course, you’ll want to make sure the refrigerator is unplugged to ensure they don’t start up during cleaning. Again, a soft brush or shop vac is useful here, although a soapy rag with warm water may be necessary if there is grease or other buildup on your blades. Just be careful to safeguard your motor and other electrical parts from the water.

Other Preventive and Cosmetic Maintenance

There are several other parts of your refrigerator that can use some consistent attention. First, many manufacturer’s units have easily removable door gaskets. These should be removed periodically and soaked in warm soapy water to remove debris that can block your door from completely closing or even contribute to food contamination. Position of food inside your refrigerator can also affect performance. When vents are blocked, or air is not permitted to flow properly around the edges of your unit – the performance is decreased. Refer to your unit’s instruction manual to learn the best configuration. Finally, is your refrigerator in view of your customer? Then you’ll want to help your exterior shine. Food grade stainless steel cleaner or mild hand soap with warm water is recommended. Never use abrasive cleaners or steel wool.

Central is Here to Help

Back to the Friday night scenario. You checked your airflow, condenser and gasket and there are still problems. Remember, your Central Restaurant product consultant can help you find a service option or even work to rush you an in-stock replacement from True or any of our other valued vendors. But remember, in many cases these issues can be prevented or prolonged with some simple ongoing maintenance steps. Steps that can reduce your energy costs and increase the longevity of your unit from the very day you buy it.