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Kitchen Ventilation Equipment

Engineered Kitchen Ventilation Equipment:

Value Added or Not?

By Bernard Besal, CECS

Widespread employment of equipment which falls under the engineered kitchen ventilation equipment cat­egory allows all kitchen exhaust cleaning firms a first-line review to reach their own conclusions concern­ing the value of water wash type hoods. However, due to the nature of the services in which we are en­gaged, we often observe only a por­tion of their performance when pon­dering this question.

The position by which we judge the performance of “engineered equipment” is generally that of close, personal association. What I mean by this is that a service technician of kitchen exhaust systems may reach his or her conclusion based on how clean (or dirty) they are after inspect­ing the ventilator. Somehow, the con­dition of our clothes at the conclu­sion of the job cannot help but in­fluence our opinion, especially when we wear that extra bit of the job home on our clothes. Conversely, one who completes the job of cleaning with very little grease on them may con­clude that this hood system works great.

Performance evaluations con­ducted by such “seat of the pants” approaches often leave users and maintainers with a very narrow and negative perspective. Before rushing to label this equipment value-added or not, many factors must be weighed to reach an appropriate conclusion.

Energy Considerations

As maintenance specialists, we do not regularly consider the associated cost of operating a kitchen exhaust system. One of the largest operating expenses of such systems is the evacu­ation of conditioned air from the structure. It remains a well-known fact within the kitchen design field that engineered hood systems allow reduction of exhaust quantities whereby the loss of this conditioned (expensive) air can be kept to a mini­mum. It should be noted that this expense continues for the life of the equipment and that the cost of poor engineered (or wasteful) systems con­tinue forever!

Recognizing the advantages o f the
unseen by acquiring more
knowledge and experience would
help us all make better judgments
on the value o f this equipment.

Deviating from the original cook­ing appliances for which these re­duced air volumes were originally established may also result in poor capture and operational perfor­mance. This could affect everything from indoor air quality to nearby re­frigeration equipment efficiency and maintenance to failure of the venti­lator to evacuate daily deposited grease loads.

Once again, failure to adjust the equipment properly for the applica­tion may be an unplanned opera­tional expense.

Fire Safety

Conventional type hoods typi­cally have no engineered compo­nents beyond the fire system to as­sist in extinguishing fire. Most engi­neered hoods do contain either a fire damper spray system or both which are activated manually or automati­cally in the event of a cook-line blaze.

The ability of this system to re­main effective relies on regular main­tenance, proper operation by the fa­cility staff, correct installation, and proper commissioning.

Automated By-Product Removal

One of the largest benefits users of engineered equipment realize is the ability to automate the by-prod­uct removal process, thus helping to reduce human error.

Do our customers remove, clean and replace their filters prior to it becoming heavily contaminated with grease or oily sludge? If the wash cycles are adjusted properly for the application, evaluation of deposited load from the hood interior can be achieved both economically and suc­cessfully in most cases. Duct­work loading can be dramatically re­duced provided this feature of the hood remains operational, is within proper adjustment, and is regularly operated.

With the application of engi­neered equipment, one must con­sider all facets of the design to prop­erly decide its value. Every installa­tion has one potential for human er­ror – through improper installation, commissioning, maintenance or op­eration. Recognizing the advantages of the unseen by acquiring more knowledge and experience would help us all make better judgments on the value of this equipment.

Bernard Besal is president of Besal Ser­vices, Inc. (dba Atlanta Ventilator Works) and a founding IKECA member. Besal currently serves on the IKECA Board of Directors and the Certification Committee.

This article appeared in the May 2000 edition of “The Scratch Pad”

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