The leading cause of restaurant fires is, not surprisingly, cooking. If you talk to an insurance underwriter or a Fire Marshal you will find that one of their principal areas of concern is the exhaust vent over ovens. Many insurance companies and building departments require that restaurants install Ansul fire extinguisher systems covering the exhaust hood and inside the exhaust vent.
Grease fires are very nasty and difficult to put out particularly if there is no easy access to the site of the fire.
If you own a substantial residence you most likely have an expansive kitchen…maybe even a “professional” kitchen. When is the last time you inspected the exhaust fan, hood and filters above your oven?
Out of Sight, Out of Mind Can Burn Your House Down
When you look at the exhaust hood over the oven you’re looking at the outside and it is probably sparkling clean.
The purpose of the exhaust hood, fan and filter is to vent cooking vapors (often loaded with grease) from atop the stove and send them outside. The filer traps the grease in the vapors so it doesn’t accumulate in the vent which is a dangerous fire hazard.
Over time that filter, like all filters, will do its job so well that it will clog because of the grease it has trapped. When this occurs the fan becomes ineffective and the vapors linger in the hood depositing grease. In short the whole system is grease soaked making it at a minimum a fire hazard.
Dirty filters and hoods also become tasty feeding grounds for insects. In addition, dirty filters are often the source of that “aroma” in the kitchen that you just can’t pin down.
Easy Cleaning Methods for Oven Vents and Filters
If you schedule regular monthly cleaning the whole assembly can be completed in 15 minutes, less if you use a chemical cleaner.
There is a product called Super Clean that is found in the automotive section. This is a spray on cleaner that works exceptionally well on grease without damaging paint finishes on the hood. If you go this route you will need:
- A bottle of Spray Clean
- Chemical resistant rubber gloves
- A cookie sheet
- Paper towels
Pop the filter out from under the hood and place on the cookie sheet. Spay the filter with Super Clean and let sit for 5 minutes. While you are waiting on the filter you can spray the cleaner directly on the hood and fan and immediately wipe it off with wet paper towels.
After 5 minutes of soaking in Super Clean, rinse the filter (and cookie sheet) with hot tap water in the sink. Pop the filter back in place.
If you want to use a natural approach you’ll need:
- A bucket big enough to accommodate the filter
- Boiling water
- ¼ cup Baking soda
- A grease cutting dish soap like Dawn
Pour the boiling water into a bucket and then slowly add the baking soda. Pour a dollop of Dawn into the bucket. Drop in the filter and let it “cook” for 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove it from the bucket and rinse in the sink with hot tap water.
A little effort can make your home a safer place.
If you have questions on this tip or any other don’t hesitate to contact me.