How Does a Commercial Kitchen Exhaust System Work?

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Installing a commercial kitchen exhaust system in Newcastle

The commercial kitchen is the heart and soul of any cooking establishment. It is where the food for public consumption is prepared in large quantities, but this creates massive amount of contaminants, odours, grease vapour, moisture and combustible gases that accumulate in the area.

This is why a well-constructed exhaust system should be in place to ensure the safety of the kitchen staff and customers.

Components of Commercial Kitchen Air Conditioning Newcastle

The ventilation system has five main parts. Every part has a different purpose and needs to be in good working condition to ensure safe kitchen operations. Understanding each part and its function is essential to create a safe working environment:

1.      Hood

The hood is one of the most vital pieces of equipment in a large-scale kitchen. It is essential for removing smoke, fumes, grease-laden vapours, and unwanted odour in the cooking area. Failure to remove the irritants and airborne contaminants can make the kitchen intolerable or worse, nauseating.

There are two main types of exhaust hoods for commercial kitchens:

  • Grease hoods – these are built on top of equipment that produces grease or smoke.
  • Condensate hoods – these need to be built on top of equipment that produces heat, steam, or products of combustion.
How Does a Commercial Kitchen Exhaust System Work? | Exhaust System

2.      Ducting

Grease ducts serve as channels for contaminated and flammable air to be safely transported outdoors. The kitchen’s fire rating must not be compromised when a duct goes through a fire-rated ceiling or wall.

3.      Exhaust Fan

The exhaust fan enables elimination of air, particles and fumes from the commercial kitchen.

4.      Grease Filter

Air goes through the grease filters as it ascends from the cook top and into the kitchen canopy. This is where the cooking grease is removed, if the filters are changed frequently to prevent the accumulation of grease.

5.      Access Panels

Access panels facilitate access to the exhaust duct for maintenance. These are installed when the exhaust system is built, but a cleaning company can also install these to improve access.

6.      Ozone or Ultraviolet Features

Some hoods have built-in ozone injection, UV treatment or water scrubbers. These are methods to decrease the amount of grease that goes to the duct, which also reduces the need to clean the ducts due to build-up of grease.


Australian Regulations Governing Kitchen Air Conditioning in Newcastle

Commercial kitchen exhaust systems need to be compliant with the following regulations:

  • Food Act 2003 and Food Regulations 2015 – mandates the approving authority (Local Government) to evaluate if the premises of a food business are appropriate.
  • AS/NZS1668.1 – using air-conditioning and ventilation in a building: control of fire and smoke in buildings.
  • Australian Standard AS/NZS1668.2 – use of air-conditioning and ventilation in buildings: ventilation design for indoor and control of air contaminants.

Common Issues in Kitchen Exhaust Systems

Not all kitchen exhaust systems are compliant with best practices. Below are common issues that can put you, your staff and clients at risk.

1.      The heat source is too near the grease removal device.

Most commercial kitchen fires are caused by accidental flare-ups on the stovetop. A flare-up can become a full-on fire if the ignition source is too near the grease removal device. So, there should be at least 45cm distance between the cooking surface and grease removal device.

2.      Poor access panel set-up and maintenance

Make sure to check the following when setting up access panels:

  • They need to be big enough to allow maintenance of ducts.
  • There should be an access panel in every change of duct direction.
  • Horizontal ducts must have an access panel every 12 feet.
  • Access panels need to be grease tight. They should be made of the same thickness and material as the ductwork.

3.      Insufficient number of panels

Not having enough access panels puts your kitchen at risk. It may not be cleaned and maintained adequately, and you could be exposed to a fire safety hazard.

4.      The ductwork is too near hazardous materials.

Check the following to ensure there is no fire hazard in the area:

  • There should be sufficient distance between the duct work and flammable materials.
  • Fire-resistant construction materials should be used.
  • Fire insulation must be placed between the exhaust duct and any surrounding flammable materials, including ducts that go through fire-rated ceilings, walls, and floors.
  • Don’t use ducts or hoods as storage space or shelf for kitchen items.

5.      Several ducts from multiple compartments

The kitchen exhaust system may be modified because of changes in the building configuration. A commercial kitchen with numerous heat sources must not have the same ductwork. Kitchens with different compartments need to have separate systems containing fire-isolated shafts, fans, and ducts.

How Does a Commercial Kitchen Exhaust System Work? | Exhaust System

Delegation of maintenance responsibilities

The kitchen exhaust system in a multi-level building or mixed-used facility is co-managed by the tenant and owner. The filter and exhaust hood are the responsibility of the tenant, but the fan and exhaust duct are found in the core building area and so are the responsibility of the building owner

It’s essential to coordinate the scheduled maintenance activities. Note that the building owner is mainly responsible for fire safety of the area. The owner must be made aware of the systems installed in the building and their proper configuration. He should also know who maintains the system and the documentation needed to verify regular maintenance.

Install a Reliable Kitchen Exhaust System with Coles Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

Failure to address issues in a commercial kitchen exhaust system can lead to disastrous consequences. Design and installation should be done correctly the first time around.

The first task in designing kitchen ventilation is to know the type of food being prepared. The amount of smoke, grease, odour, and moisture depends on the type of cuisine.

If you are unsure about the type of exhaust system for your Newcastle establishment, our approachable and professional engineers at Coles Air Conditioning and Refrigeration are here to help.

The team at Coles Refrigeration and Air Conditioning are experts in kitchen ventilation systems. We’ll design a system that perfectly matches your kitchen’s style, layout and requirements. Book an appointment today or call us on 02 4957 0221 to speak with a representative.

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