Talking to Kitchen Staff About Air Balance


Author: Derick Ramos –

Muppet chef

Negative building pressure costs restaurant facility managers thousands of dollars every year.  Uncomfortable kitchen staff, as well intended as they may be, are often instigators of a facility’s air circulation becoming off balance.  Hot and bothered, they’ll tinker with the thermostats or other HVAC components in effort to come into agreement with the air they are working in.  The issue is that most kitchen staff aren’t aware of the sensitivities of balanced HVAC systems and may make an adjustment that throws the system into inefficient operation and cause the entire operation to cost much more than it needs to.

During your next site visit or conversation with onsite managers, restaurant facility managers should take a moment to explain the basics of air balance to kitchen staff.

Here are some points to explain:

The single most important thing to explain is that HVAC equipment works as “one system”.  What happens in the kitchen can and will affect the comfort in the dining areas and vice versa.

Kitchen hood air transfer graphic

Graphic provided by Trane

1.  Explain basic building pressure

  • Building pressure is a large factor to customer comfort, kitchen hood smoke capture, condensation issues, energy savings, door pull issues, insect issues. etc.
  • Kitchen airflow is the largest factor to the overall building pressure.
  • High velocity airflow near kitchen hoods (like from a portable fan) can adversely effect the ability of those hoods to capture and remove heat and smoke.
  • The kitchen staff and/or the building owner should ensure that all kitchen hood grease filters are being periodically cleaned.  They are in place to protect the exhaust ductwork, exhaust fans, and the discharge area of the exhaust fans, which is typically the rooftop.  Grease filters can quickly become clogged if not thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.  As well, these should also be replaced immediately if they are damaged.

2.  Emphasize regular cleaning of grease filters:

  • The kitchen staff and/or the building owner should ensure that all kitchen hood grease filters are being periodically cleaned.  They are in place to protect the exhaust ductwork, exhaust fans, and the discharge area of the exhaust fans, which is typically the rooftop.  Grease filters can quickly become clogged if not thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.  As well, these should also be replaced immediately if they are damaged.

HVAC cover

Hiring an experienced and professional TAB firm to perform a test and balance on your HVAC system periodically can help provide confidence that your systems are balanced and operating properly.  This will ensure that you kitchen staff is operating under the best conditions and that your customers are comfortable.  

 

Authored By: Derick Ramos

Derick Ramos is a regional service manager at Melink T&B and has been with the company for 12 years. Derick is a LEED-Accredited Professional, NEBB Certified Professional. He has worked in the HVACR industry since 1998 and has optimized hundreds of systems across the country. For more than 25 years, Melink T&B has been providing independent testing and balancing, and installation verification services to help building owners reduce operating costs and improve comfort.