Why & How Do Restaurant Ducts Get Dirty?

Posted on Nov 2, 2022

While grills, fryers, and ovens may seem like some of the most important appliances in a restaurant, there is one appliance working behind the scenes that does even more for the business – the heating and cooling system. The HVAC system and ductwork are one of the most overlooked systems in the restaurant, but it is one of the most important. The HVAC system and ductwork help keep the air clean, remove odors, and control the temperature. Because it is such an important system, it is imperative to keep the ductwork clean. 

But how do the ducts in restaurants get dirty? 

Here are some of the main reasons ducts in commercial restaurants get dirty:

  • Smoke, grease, and kitchen by-products
    Many have compared the HVAC system to the lungs in your body – the system “breathes” the air in and out, moving it around to the different areas of the building. Restaurants produce a lot of grease, steam, and smoke, especially in commercial kitchens. The HVAC system “inhales” these pollutants, removes the debris and pollutants from the air, and then “exhales” clean air back into the room. However, these pollutants must go somewhere, and oftentimes, smoke, grease, and other kitchen by-products stay in the ductwork.

  • Water
    In addition to smoke and grease, commercial kitchens produce a lot of steam. HVAC systems help regulate moisture in the air by removing excess moisture. This moisture can find its way into ducts and the HVAC system, which could eventually breed mold and mildew if not cleaned and maintained regularly.

  • Dust and Allergens
    Throughout the day, many people move through restaurants. From employees and patrons to delivery personnel and maintenance crews, there is a constant flow of traffic through the dining areas and kitchen. With these people come dust and debris from outside, as well as germs and allergens that people naturally produce.

  • Chemicals and Cleaners
    Commercial kitchens must stay clean for the health of the restaurant’s customers. Because of this, those working in commercial kitchens use a lot of cleaners and chemicals. These can get into the air and are recycled through HVAC systems and air ducts. 

Side Effects Of Dirty Air Ducts In Restaurants 

While dirty ductwork in your home can present health and cleanliness issues, dirty ducts at a restaurant can present problems that are even more disastrous. Ducts that have not been cleaned in a long time can produce poor air quality, which is especially detrimental in a restaurant where many people move through the building each day. Some of the main negative side effects of dirty restaurant ducts include: 

  • Health Issues
    While the patrons who come to your restaurant may not notice immediate sinus issues while at the restaurant, employees will. Because they spend the majority of their day breathing the air from the dirty ducts, they will breathe the dirty particles that are expelled each time the air turns on. This can cause sinus issues, increased bacteria, an increase in sick time for employees, or even bacteria on food products.

  • Allergies
    Mold, dust, and pollen are all common allergens that could cause an increase in allergies for employees and patrons of an unclean restaurant.

  • Atmosphere
    Ducts move air throughout an entire building; if the ducts are dirty, the air moved around the building will likely have a musty, dirty, or moldy smell to it. While patrons won’t be able to see inside the ductwork, they will be able to smell a bad odor if there is a high level of pollutants in the air or ducts.

  • Pests
    In addition to mold, mildew, dust, and pollutants, dirty ducts can also attract pests, such as bugs and rodents. The waste these pests create can be a serious health hazard.

  • Increased Costs
    The dirtier the ducts are, the harder they will be to maintain, clean, and use. A dirty system will have to work harder to do the same amount of work, costing you more money over time. Additionally, dirty ductwork may cause HVAC systems to wear down quickly as they try to keep up with demand. 

Regular Maintenance Of Ducts Is Important

Dirty ducts can be detrimental to commercial kitchens and restaurants. From the health of patrons and employees to the productivity of the HVAC system, it is important to keep ducts clean and maintained. If it is time for your regular commercial duct cleaning, contact the team at Airpro Hawaii Indoor Air Solutions today to schedule your appointment. 

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