Regarding restaurant air balance, negative building pressure costs restaurant facility managers thousands of dollars every year. Uncomfortable kitchen staff, as well-intentioned 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 an 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 a balanced HVAC system and may make an adjustment that throws the system into inefficient operation, causing the entire operation to cost much more than necessary.
Tips for Talking with Kitchen Staff
During your next site visit or conversation with on-site managers, restaurant facility managers should take a moment to explain the basics of air balance to kitchen staff. Here are some points to explain:
1. 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.
Graphic provided by Trane
2. Explain basic building pressure.
- Building pressure is a large factor of customer comfort, kitchen hood smoke capture, condensation issues, energy savings, door pull issues, insect issues. etc.
- Kitchen airflow is the largest contributing 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.
3. 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 duct work, 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. Also, these should also be replaced immediately if they are damaged.
Hiring an experienced and professional TAB firm to perform a test and balance on your HVAC system periodically can provide confidence that your systems are balanced and operating properly. This will ensure that your kitchen staff is operating under the best conditions and that your customers are comfortable.
Contributed by Derick Ramos