Customers may not notice it at first, but the air quality of your restaurant is a large part of their dining experience. The smell, the heat, the negative air pressure, the humidity and thickness of the air, and how it feels to breathe all impact their health and happiness. It doesn’t feel good to dine in an establishment with poor air quality. They may not complain outright, but they also may not come back.
The negative effects of poor air quality are compounded when it comes to your staff, who spend upwards of 8-10 hours a day within the space. Kitchen staff are particularly impacted by low quality air, as most of these issues stem from poor ventilation and inefficient HVAC systems within the kitchen space.
Indoor Air Quality Affects Everything in Your Restaurant
The quality of air in your restaurant should never be an afterthought. You may not always notice the difference right away, but prolonged poor air quality in restaurants can have negative impacts on many things:
- Food quality and storage: poor air quality can lead to increased levels of mold and bacteria, causing food to become contaminated and spoil quicker.
- Work performance and productivity: employees who are exposed to poor air quality are more likely to have health issues that lead to time away from work.
- Unwanted odors: smells from cooking can impact the experience of diners and staff.
- Dust and allergens: when these are present in the air, they can activate and exacerbate allergies in customers and employees.
- General health issues: these can include headaches, fatigue, skin dryness and irritation, congestion, dizziness, nausea, and irritation in the nose, throat, and eyes.
What Causes Poor Restaurant Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality in restaurants is caused by two major issues:
- Inefficient HVAC performance
- Poor smoke and effluent capture
Addressing each of these issues is the key to increasing air quality.
Improving HVAC Performance
As HVAC systems age, they tend to fall out of alignment. Changes in floor plans and major remodels can also throw them off balance, resulting in poor ventilation and performance. Even newly installed systems can be inefficient if they are not optimized for the space in which they are servicing. Air quality will always deteriorate as a result. When this occurs, it’s important for Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing (TAB) to be performed on the HVAC system. TAB services ensure that HVAC systems are operating efficiently and aligned properly for peak energy efficiency, air quality, and comfort. Proper balancing of HVAC systems will correct many issues, including:
- Leaky ducts
- Broken dampers
- Improper airflow
- Diffuser sweating
- Much more
The result of TAB is a checklist of things that need to be addressed in order to correct the air quality and HVAC issues in your restaurant, allowing you to begin corrective actions immediately.
Improving Smoke and Effluent Capture
Even if your HVAC system is operating at peak performance, your kitchen may still be contaminating your air supply by stovetop ventilation hoods not properly capturing smoke and effluent created in the cooking process. When smoke and effluent are not efficiently captured, they are left to linger in the air, resulting in higher temperatures and humidity, an increase in grease volatile organic compounds in the air, and greater fire hazards.
The problem is that many kitchen ventilation systems are inefficient. They either do not properly capture smoke and effluent or waste a lot of energy doing so. The popular solution is demand control kitchen ventilation (DCKV) systems. These kitchen hood controls allow for the efficient capture of smoke and effluent by monitoring the air temperature and using optic sensors to detect smoke. This results in a system that not only effectively ventilates a kitchen space, but adjusts to cooking demand speeds as well. Kitchen hood fans only run as needed, saving energy while improving the overall air quality of an entire restaurant.
Melink specializes in both TAB services and DCKV technology. Having issues with the air quality in your restaurant? Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.