Automating tasks to save time in your commercial kitchen can save staff valuable time and help prevent injuries. Investing in clean commercial kitchen ventilation systems can positively impact the productivity, efficiency and safety of a foodservice establishment. Cleaning exhaust hoods, grease filters and ductwork are often time consuming and expensive endeavors for an operator. Fortunately, self-cleaning exhaust hoods effectively and economically mitigate the need for ongoing, demanding manual maintenance and expensive professional cleaning services.
What is a Self-Cleaning Hood?
A self-cleaning hood, like other commercial kitchen exhaust hoods, captures and contains effluent produced by cooking processes and then filters out grease and other contaminants from the airstream. But what makes it “self-cleaning” are the nozzles on both sides of the filters that wash the filters and other surfaces in place within the exhaust plenum to remove grease build-up. A true self-cleaning hood that cleans the filters in place greatly reduces the needs for filter removal and manual labor. Self-cleaning hoods are connected to a commercial kitchen’s hot water, grease interceptor drain and have a self-contained detergent reservoir in order to properly wash during the cleaning cycle.
Regular cleaning is a significant recurring expense. Daily cleaning of hood filters creates additional time commitments for back-of-house staff, often afterhours, and they typically don’t have the appropriate tools needed to clean any of the grease that accumulates behind the filters. These additional employee hours, paired with a potential increase in the federal minimum wage, can significantly increase costs. Self-cleaning hoods help establish a cleaner environment and decrease employee support, thus saving money. Hiring a cleaning crew specialized in restaurant kitchen ventilation can cost upwards of $100 an hour, on top of the kitchen staff member who must stay late to let hired cleaners in and out of the establishment. Self-cleaning hoods only require refilling of a detergent tank and occasional inspection and maintenance of the system, thus greatly reducing the everyday labor requirements and expenses of typical, non-self-cleaning systems.
Self-cleaning hoods clean themselves far more quickly than manual cleaning can. Where a cleaning crew might need an hour to clean one hood, a self-cleaning hood can complete its cleaning cycle in a fraction of that time. These hoods can be set on an automatic schedule from its control center to run as frequently as necessary at any time that is most convenient. Staff does not need to be present while the cleaning cycle runs.
Maximize Staff Safety
Employee safety is always top priority in a commercial kitchen, and their safety is increased when higher risk tasks become automated with a self-cleaning hood. The clean-in-place technology used by self-cleaning hoods washes both sides of the filter – eliminating the need for daily maintenance, reducing overall risk to staff. Aside from potential costs of job-related injuries, operating temporarily without an important back-of-house team member may also compromise kitchen productivity.
Reduce Fire Risk
Using highly efficient grease filters in a self-cleaning hood reduces grease build-up on filters – therefore reducing the risk of fire. Even with the best commercial fire suppression system, the more grease that is built up within the ventilation system, the more difficult it is to suppress a fire if it breaks out. Using a self-cleaning hood is a proactive method for mitigating the risk before it becomes an issue. Cleaning it regularly, reduces a potential fuel source and may limit the severity of a fire should one start as there will be less fuel to ignite and continue to burn. Certain self-cleaning hoods also have the option of a continuous cold-water mist that cools the exhaust air stream, knocks down airborne embers and prevents grease from baking onto the filters, which elongates their lifespan.
By saving time and money, as well as increasing staff and fire safety, a self-cleaning exhaust hood brings efficiency to commercial kitchen ventilation maintenance. The Accurex Auto Scrubber hood cleans more thoroughly than manual methods and many other types of self-cleaning hoods. The Auto Scrubber does so in less time while reducing ongoing maintenance and risk. To learn more about how a self-cleaning hood can improve productivity, efficiency and cost, please contact your local Accurex kitchen ventilation expert.