As a kitchen exhaust cleaning (KEC) contractor, some of my time is spent educating customers on the proper ways to clean kitchen exhaust hood systems. I have found many restaurant and building owners simply don't know what is required of them, or don't know what is considered a properly cleaned kitchen exhaust hood system. In many instances, owners are led by unqualified contractors to believe that cleaning the hood and attaching a certificate of cleaning is sufficient enough to keep them in compliance with authorities. Unfortunately this lack of knowledge comes back to haunt an owner when a fire occurs. A proper cleaning of the entire kitchen exhaust system includes the hood, filters, fan and all associated horizontal and vertical ductwork. I refer customers to the NFPA-96 Standard (National Fire Protection Association Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations 2011 edition) that provide the minimum fire safety requirements (preventative and operative) related to the design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of all public and private cooking operations. The more owners know and understand what is required, the better they will be able to select contractors that will provide the proper service and better manage their fire protection.

Some of the most frequently asked questions I get from restaurant and building owners are as follows:

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  • Clean the inside and outside of the kitchen hood(s)
  • Scrape and clean all accessible ductwork, which includes opening up any access panels.
  • Clean the exhaust fan(s), which includes the fan bowl and fan blades.
  • Clean all grease filters.
  • Clean the backsplash to the top of the equipment.
  • Polish all stainless steel surfaces.


  • Were the technicians there for a minimum of at least two hours?
  • Is the exhaust hood; clean, dry, streak free and polished on the inside and out?
  • Are the hood globes clean and free of any water on the inside of them?
  • Are the grease filters cleaned and put back properly with the baffles straight up and down?
  • Were the grease pans emptied, cleaned and put back in the appropriate place?
  • Was the exhaust fan or fans cleaned and left running after the service?
  • Were all access panels, if any; opened, stickered and sealed back up properly?
  • Is there any excessive or noticeable water or grease leaking from anywhere on the system from the exhaust hood to the exhaust fan?
  • Was the before and after checklist on the invoice filled out properly?
  • Did the technician do a walk-through after the cleaning and go over any specific notes on the invoice to ensure customer satisfaction?
  • Was there a mess left outside in the parking lot?
  • Were before and after pictures taken?
  • Was there a new certification of compliance sticker put on the exhaust hood?
  • Was everything; cleaned up, put back and the floor mopped after the service and left how it was before the cleaning, if not better?
  • Were the pilot lights re-lit?