|CA License #984738||323-340-8291|
Hood Cleaning in Restaurants and Kitchens
What Is Kitchen Exhaust ("Hood" or Grease Exhaust) Cleaning?
The cleaning of kitchen "hood" systems commonly goes by various names, including: hood cleaning, grease exhaust cleaning, grease duct cleaning, exhaust cleaning, grease cleaning and kitchen exhaust cleaning. The actual name commonly used by the heating/ ventilating/air conditioning (HVAC) trade is "grease exhaust system cleaning". Even though this is typically referred to as "hood cleaning," the hood (canopy) itself is not normally cleaned as part of this service, but can be performed as well at an additional charge.
What Our Service Entails
Our standard grease exhaust system cleaning includes the cleaning of the area behind the filters, the exhaust duct (the chimney-like area) and the exhaust fan (see actual un-retouched recent job photographs below). If desired and specified, the hood (the metal canopy over the stove or cooking area) and/or filters can be cleaned as well, for an additional charge.
What Sets Our Company Apart from Other Companies
Firstly, we do a very good job. We make sure that the duct is cleaned completely and thoroughly. Our cleaning will definitely pass any inspection that you receive.
We don't leave a mess. Our servicemen are very careful to cover any areas that will be affected by our cleaning. Grease exhaust cleaning is, by nature, a very messy job, and we understand this very well. Therefore, we completely cover the areas beneath the hood. Quite frequently, large amounts of greasy matter come down from the system as it is being cleaned. At the end of the job we do a very thorough job of cleaning up. Our company policy is to leave the surrounding area at least as clean as it was prior to our work.
Our very high quality servicemen definitely set us apart from most other companies. They are well-trained professionals, know what they are doing and are extremely hard workers. You may have noticed in life that some of the friendlier people who you run across are quite competent and productive at what they do. This certainly holds true with our servicemen. Our workers are known for being very friendly. This is derived from their competence and pride in their work. They are very good at what they do and therefore tend to have a good attitude generally. They are known for treating their customers very well. We have had many, many customers comment on how professional and nice our servicemen are, on how they got along well with our servicemen, who felt that they gave them a very good job and that they were very pleasant to work with.
This is all in alignment with our overall company motto, which is "We do a good job and treat others with courtesy."
In our experience, by and large, the vast majority of grease exhaust cleaning companies do not do a thorough job. They leave sections that are inaccessible not cleaned without informing the customer of such. Sometimes, it's just too hard to get all of the grease out and they can't get it out so they just don't clean it. It's not visible to the average customer so they never know that it wasn't cleaned. They normally give a low price because they don't put much time into the job.
Another factor is that they don't have the proper tools to get the ductwork thoroughly clean. As a matter of fact, quite a few of our tools were developed by our owner, actually, and most of our tools we make ourselves and/or modify from existing tools. One of the difficulties that other companies have is that they don't have the tools that we have in order to perform the job properly.
Most other companies don't really care if they get the ductwork very clean, because if they can do it quickly, they don't have to charge a lot of money, they can get more jobs and make more money by doing it that way. At Professional Duct Cleaning Co., we charge to do the job right, which can commonly take from 2 to 10 times as long to do the job. We naturally have to charge a bit more money because we actually do the work to get the ducts clean.
The Liability and the Solution
In this particular area of the duct cleaning business, it's not just a matter of, "Is it clean" or, "Is it not clean," or "Will the air be dusty in my house or not," it's a matter of, "What will happen if the kitchen exhaust catches on fire?" As far as grease exhaust systems are concerned, you can get fires in the kitchen and if the ductwork then catches on fire, it can take the whole building down. This is a very frequent cause of fires in buildings. So it's not just a matter of will somebody sneeze or not, it's actually a matter of life and death. Many people have died from fires caused by grease exhaust. Maybe you've heard about, without getting into all of the gory details or into a bad news kick, a very large and famous hotel in Las Vegas that burned in 1980, killing 84 people. That fire started in the grease exhaust system and spread to the whole hotel.
Because of this factor, we basically are very responsible when it comes to grease exhaust cleaning. And if there is a section that we can't clean, that we can't access, we make a note on the invoice which the customer then signs, that they know this to be the case. We normally give them an estimate for what it would take to create proper access so that it can be cleaned, any modifications, etc. Sometimes it even requires a general contractor to come in and modify things so the system actually can be accessed, because it's so very, very, very important for it to be completely accessible and then cleaned; otherwise, the whole place could catch on fire.
The Reason Why
The basic reasoning is that there is a very, very powerful fan normally on the roof, that sucks all of the smoke and grease-laden hot air off of the kitchen stove, the deep fryers and cooking equipment. As it's sucking up all of this grease-laden, very hot air, the duct becomes extremely hot during cooking. Most people have experienced what it's like while cooking to have a hot skillet with grease in it catch a spark or small flame. Boy, it just goes up in a hurry, really, really fast. That's the basic principle, and that's why we have to make sure we really, really get the kitchen exhaust clean. It doesn't matter if the customer knows or not. When you get a call from the Fire Marshall in the middle of the night telling you to get down to the restaurant right away as there has been a fire, that's not a call that you want to get. And it's like, "Oh, nobody knew!" but they know now. So that's basically the truth of it: it's not a doom and gloom kind of a subject, but actually, if you don't do the job right, it could be very catastrophic.
So we just price it for actually doing a good job, no matter how much work it's going to take, that's how we price it. We don't try any kind of PR or "Oh, well, if you do this you'll save money;" no, this is what it's really going to take, if you want it to be done by people who really do it right, and who are going to have to really work hard. Some of these jobs are extremely difficult to do. It can be very, very physically taxing work, very, very physically taxing, done under very severe working conditions. For instance, sometimes we'll have to crawl down a long duct so small that you can barely fit into it, full of very thick, leathery, gummy, grease residue, like some of the Chinese restaurants (they use a different type of oil, a different method of cooking, and the grease builds up really, really thick and really, really gummy. Most grease exhaust companies won't even want do Chinese restaurants because it's so hard to take out the grease). We go in there with specially made scrapers with razor knife blades and other custom made tools that can take it off, but it's very difficult work. The guys that are in there are covered in all this greasy matter and it's really very gnarly work, but it's got to be done because if it's not done, wow! What happens when a major hotel in downtown LA (or even a small restaurant) catches on fire? That's not something we want to hear about. Money, you know, it's good to make money, but in this business you have to be honest or else otherwise, boy, you're such a liability. Well, anyway, that's our philosophy for cleaning kitchen grease exhaust systems in a nutshell.
Going the Extra Mile
We basically take the time and considerable effort to do it right, and make known any inadequacies, in terms of access, if they exist, to the customer so that can then be corrected in order to completely access the system and do the job right. We make the majority of our own tools, and some of them, can't be gotten anywhere because they were created by the owner. While other companies pretty much use pressure washing, we have a special method of cleaning which we use almost exclusively, which is a very, very hot water technique, and we use a special chemical that we put on that can take off grease. It actually has a foaming action. One of the problems that other companies run into when they spray a chemical onto the ductwork, like an oven cleaner or a degreaser, in hopes of it eating through the grease so they can scrape it off easier or wash it off easier, is that normally the duct goes straight down to the kitchen, like a chimney. Well, when you spray a chemical on, it runs down, it doesn't stay in place. Now the particular recipe of chemicals that we use has a foaming agent in it, so that when you spray the chemical onto the ductwork, even though it's a vertical duct, going up and down, like a chimney, it sticks to the duct and it has a chance to actually eat through the grease, and then we wash it off with the hot water method. So it's basically a specialized chemical wash that we use on almost all our jobs, that does a very good job.
Sometimes though, it just takes out and out hard work. Some places haven't been cleaned properly in 20 or 30 years in portions of the ductwork. They just had some cheap company that wanted to make a quick buck go in, and it just accumulated, and then we are in the unlucky position of inheriting all their lack of responsibility. We've got to get in there and actually take all of that out, which could be literally 6 or 8 inches or even a foot deep, and it gets so hard that it's almost like it's fossilized tar or something, very, very difficult work. But, that's what we do and, of course we have to charge for that.
Don't Worry: Be Happy
But we think it's well worth it: it's very good insurance toward a future in that particular restaurant. It also frees the owner's attention up, to not have to worry about that kind of thing, so they can stay focused on doing on what they do best, which is putting out excellent quality food or that type of thing, serving their customers. They don't have to have in the back of their mind, "Yeah, it's been okay up to now, but ....?"
Practice Makes Perfect
One other thing, we're very experienced, having well over 20 years experience in this business, so we know all the wrong ways to do it, and we know the right way; there aren't many right ways actually. And we have decided to go the route of the right way.
When we started out, we were primarily doing grease, and the owner really built a system for grease exhaust cleaning. When this company was founded, our primary service was grease exhaust cleaning, and the owner personally, through experience, perfected the tools and methodology employed to actually get a thorough and standard job done. So, it's not just like we know a lot about it: it's been the core of this company for many years. This company was built on grease exhaust cleaning. We found that the conventional tools and methods didn't really do a good job.
Inspectors: No Problemo
We've never, ever had a problem with health and safety inspectors, which do inspect restaurants regularly. We haven't had a problem with them regarding any of our grease exhaust cleaning work. There's a threat to restaurants of the health inspector or the fire and safety inspector shutting the restaurant down because he notices an inadequate job is being done on the grease cleaning.
We are very experienced at handling inspectors, which actually is a big problem sometimes for restaurant owners. They'll get flunked by the fire inspector or the health inspector or the building inspector and then call us in. We're actually very good with them, mainly just by showing them our work, and bang! they're handled. So we get that threat of closure off of restaurant owners' plates really quickly.
The Very Best People
The other thing is that our servicemen are very conscientious, which sounds like PR, but believe it or not, it's true. What we've run into is that other companies' servicemen generally don't really care about the quality of their service, they just want to get out of there as soon as they can and do as little work as they can so they can make as much money as they can. And they're not even thinking about the consequences. Our guys have a very high work ethic; that's the only type of people that we use. Our servicemen have proven that they will just stay there and do it to the bitter end and get it done right. And that very much separates us from almost all of the competition out there.
Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness
One other thing that we've run into quite frequently is that, from restaurant owners, it's very, very common, in fact it's pretty much the rule to hear: "kitchen 'hood' cleaners leave a mess in my kitchen when they are done". You have to cover things up, and we mean literally, you can have gallons and gallons of grease debris all over the top of the stove, getting into the deep fryer and can even fall into the top of the deep fryer, and sometimes that's what causes fires in the first place. But it's a very, very, very messy job, and sometimes cleaners won't cover up well enough and do a proper clean-up, so, for instance, if they do it at night, the next morning the restaurant workers come in and there's grease all over the place, which looks horrible. This is very, very frequently done by grease exhaust cleaners, and we therefore really stress with our guys to, first of all, do proper preparation. We prep the area by covering things extremely well: the key to not having a huge, difficult-to-clean-up mess at the end is to cover very, very well before starting, and then clean up will be fairly easy. All our servicemen know that, boy, that place has got to be spotless. It's got to look at least as good as it did when they walked in there.
Save Money by Doing It Right: Cleaning the Exhaust Fan
There is another important factor regarding grease exhaust cleaning. Basically, when we clean, we really make sure that the grease exhaust fan itself is well cleaned. The reason being is that when it's not properly cleaned, there can be more grease on certain fan blades than others, and that'll make the fan go out of balance. It's kind of like when you buy a new tire; they balance it, because if one part of the tire is heavier than the other, then when it spins around, it really starts to shake. That's why your car shakes when you go down the road at high speeds. Well, the same thing with a fan; if some of the blades are heavier than the others because of uneven grease distribution, then it'll make the fan shake, and when it shakes a lot, you can sometimes even feel the vibrations down into the restaurant, which can be very distracting; however, mainly what it does is ruin the fan, which starts falling apart due to excessive vibration. It'll mess up the fan bearings, overwork and ruin the motor, and sometimes it'll even destroy the fan blades. We've seen the blades of fans which had not been cleaned properly by another company lying all over the roof, as if the fan had almost exploded. So that's why it's very important, and that's why when we do the cleaning, we make sure that the fan is cleaned properly, to avoid expensive repairs. So that's another highly important part of grease exhaust cleaning.
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