How To Clean The Duct Work On A Commercial Kitchen Exhaust System

Keeping an exhaust system clean not only helps to move grease vapors and smoke out of a commercial kitchen, but it also reduces the chance of having a grease fire develop in the system. Grease builds up over time and can become very thick in the duct work of an exhaust system. When the grease gets over-heated, a fire can result. The fire can burn for awhile before anyone even notices it and it can easily spread to other parts of the building. Here is how you can clean the duct work on a commercial kitchen exhaust system.

You Will Need:

  • Pressure Washer
  • Scrapers
  • Degreaser
  • Plastic Tarps
  • Catch Basin
  • Ladder
  • Personal Protective Equipment

Protection Measures

You will want to make sure you are wearing the proper personal protection equipment that will protect you from the grease, cleaning agents, and vapors. You should wear a face shield, polyurethane protective body suit, rubber gloves, and a respirator. You should also make sure the equipment, floors, and walls are covered with plastic tarps - make sure to turn off any equipment and allow it to cool down before you put plastic tarp over it – to catch the grease drippings draining from the exhaust system as you clean the duct work. If you can, try and shift the plastic tarps so the grease will drain into a catch basin (you can use 55 gallon plastic garbage cans) to limit the mess you will invariably make in the kitchen.

Cleaning Process

You should take down all the grease filters above the cooking area on the exhaust system (these will need to be cleaned, too) and set them aside. Soak the inside of the duct work down with a heavy degreaser and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the degreaser to penetrate the grease. Use a scraper to remove any heavy build-up of grease on the inside of the duct walls. You may have to repeat this process several times before you get down to the metal if the ducts have a heavy coating of grease on them.

There are trap doors in the duct system that you will use to gain access to the higher portions of the duct work. Remove the access doors so you can clean the whole length of the duct work. Once you have removed the heavily built-up grease, you can use a power washer to wash away the rest of the grease. You'll want to use hot water and a degreaser in the power washer to remove any remnants of grease in the duct work.

If this task sounds like a lot of work, you can hire a professional to do a commercial exhaust cleaning for you.