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Even Kitchen Fires Can Damage Your HVAC System


What Smoke From Kitchen Fires Can Do to Your Heating and Cooling System

Even the smoke from a small kitchen fire can carry particles into your vents. Here’s why you should get your HVAC system decontaminated after a fire.

Kitchen fires and smoke damage Between 2011 and 2013, commercial kitchen fires caused an estimated $116 million of property damage. Though most of that damage was done to kitchen equipment, inventory, and the structure itself, there are other parts of the property that will experience secondary damage.

Believe it or not, a kitchen fire does more than damage stoves, ovens, and the food you’re cooking. It can do great damage to your HVAC system.

We’re going to look at how even small kitchen fires can do serious damage to your HVAC system, and what you can do to help prevent the damage in the first place.

Smoke Does the Most Damage

Commercial HVAC systems filter and circulate the air throughout your restaurant. When the air is clean, the system can do its job efficiently. Strong cooking smells are easy enough for the system to handle and remove, but the system tends to struggle a bit more after a fire.

When grease burns, it creates a lot of smoke. That smoke then gets captured inside of the HVAC system’s air ducts, and recirculated into the dining area. Not only can it be difficult to remove that smell, but it may also damage the air ducts.

Contaminants Stick to the Duct-work

Grease is sticky and when it goes up in flames, small grease particles end up sticking to the inside of the air ducts. These particles then hold onto things like dust, dirt, debris and smells.

Not only does this create an issue with indoor air quality, but it also puts you at risk for fires in the future.

Extinguishers Impact Air Quality

Every commercial kitchen should have a fire extinguisher on hand for minor fires. While they will keep the fire from growing out of control, they also damage your HVAC system.

Although fire extinguishers look like they spray out a steady mist, they actually release a fine powder – and that powder goes everywhere. It gets into kitchen equipment, electronics, and of course, the air. Once your HVAC system starts circulating air from the kitchen, the powder spreads through the duct work and out into the restaurant.

As long as the powder is in the duct-work or in the air, it will continue to spread throughout the building. The only way to get rid of it is to schedule a professional refresh of your HVAC system.

Shortens Air Filter Life

Every HVAC system should have high-quality air filters in place. These keep contaminants and smells from the kitchen out of the rest of the building. They also help reduce the amount of smoke and extinguishing powder that spreads throughout the space.

After a fire, all that smoke and fire extinguisher powder can clog the filters quickly. So, instead of replacing them every couple of months, you’ll need to replace them as soon as possible. However, if the air ducts aren’t cleaned, the filters will continue to get dirty.

Why a Fast Cleanup is Important

The sooner you schedule an HVAC system refresh after a kitchen fire, the better off you’ll be.

Without addressing the damage, the system has to work harder to try to do its job – which puts more strain on it and can lead to premature wear and tear of the unit.

Once smoke, grease, and debris from the fire collect in the vents, it will eventually make its way to the HVAC unit itself. These contaminants often cause the system’s components to gum up or force them to work harder just to keep your space comfortable.

The harder the unit has to work, the higher your energy and maintenance costs may be. Each component experiences more strain, causing them to wear out faster.

Fast Action Reduces Mold Growth

If your commercial kitchen is equipped with sprinklers and water-based fire extinguishing systems, mold and water damage are a risk. Without getting help from a professional water removal company, the risk of mold growth increases.

As water damage sits, mold spores start to take root. Those spores are then picked up by the HVAC system and spread throughout the building. What might have started as a kitchen fire can actually result in a mold problem for the entire building.

The best way to preserve the safety of your building is to take care of the fire and water damage immediately.

The professionals from the restoration company you choose will be able to properly dry the space, which is essential in preventing mold growth.

What Happens During the Refresh and Cleaning

Our technicians will work to return your property back to its pre-loss condition. 

They’ll inspect the damage to identify structural issues, minor repairs needed, and remove materials that can’t be salvaged. They’ll also use state-of-the-art processes to clean and remove the remaining soot or smoke damage.

Then, the HVAC system will be cleaned in order to remove any grease buildup, along with the lingering smells.

What You Can Do on Your Own

First, contact your insurance agent and file a claim as soon as possible. This will help cover the cost for equipment replacements, as well as the fire damage cleanup.

After the insurance adjuster gives you an estimate, you can start removing the damaged equipment.

Replace any used fire extinguishers and check the unused models to make sure they haven’t expired. If they have, replace them as well.

Let the Pros Handle Your Kitchen Fire Cleanup

Recovering from a kitchen fire is a time-consuming process, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Contact us today to schedule an estimate with our dedicated crew.