Your grease filters are an integral component to keeping your cooking space clean and your commercial business safe. Not only do grease filters and kitchen hoods add an elegant element to your kitchen, they help keep it smoke- and grease-free too.
Grease filters, particularly grease baffle filters, work by catching grease before it goes up into your kitchen hood system. You need filters that are in good working condition, without missing or banged up parts, to keep your restaurant compliant with fire codes. It is also a fire hazard to have filters with grease build up on them, which means they need to be cleaned or changed frequently. Cleaning them, however, can be a difficult and complicated process. Not only does washing them improperly waste water and other resources, but cleaning them in a sink risks ruining your equipment with the grease running into your plumbing, sticking to pipes, and damaging other items you are trying to keep clean.
Pressure Washing Grease Filters
Follow these tips to safely and efficiently wash your grease baffle filters. (For more tips on using pressure washers, visit our previous blog post here.)
- Remove the filters carefully. If there is a large amount of thick grease built up on and around the filter, use a paint scraper to pry the filter out. Wear heavy-duty gloves at all times when handling the filters as the metal edges are sharp and can cut you.
- Prepare your filter for cleaning. Lay the filters side-by-side, not stacked on top of each other, at a 45 degree angle against a sturdy surface (NOT on the side of a building, house, truck, or car!). This angle will allow the water to force the grease and cleaning chemicals off the filter and towards the ground, not back at you or onto the clean side of the filter.
- Safely clean the grease filters. Clean them one by one and take your time in doing it. Rushing through the job won’t ensure they get cleaned completely. Ensure you are using the appropriate pressure washer settings. Be sure you are using the appropriate cleaning chemicals as well. Regular dish soap won’t cut through this grease! You also need to remember that heavy-duty degreaser removes paint too, so be careful.
- Keep filters clean as they dry. As you finish power washing each filter, prop them up (don’t lay them flat on the ground) against a clean and dry surface with the filter blades horizontally to allow them to air dry.
- Finish up. Pressure wash the area then squeegee excess water, but be sure you don’t destroy any property with a strong power washer.
Purchasing New Grease Filters
Some kitchens and restaurants use thinner, lightweight aluminum grease filters. These are not meant to be cleaned and reused, but rather disposed of and replaced. But even thicker, more heavy-duty filters eventually reach the end of their life and need to be replaced from time to time as well. Use these tips for finding and buying new filters for your hood systems.
The most important distinction when buying your filters is whether you want baffle grease filters or mesh grease filters.
Baffle Filters: Baffle filters are made from unique roll formed baffle, designed to prevent flames from penetrating through the filter into the ducts. Two layers of equally-spaced baffles create an air flow that contributes to efficient grease removal. The smooth surfaces of the baffle filters causes a continuous run-off, allowing grease to be safely deposited in collection troughs. These are typically designed to be used in grease hoods and fryers and can be made from galvanized, aluminum, or stainless steel to withstand varying temperatures. The pros to using baffle grease filters is that they contribute to improved airflow, are generally more durable, and require less maintenance than mesh filters.
Mesh Filters: Mesh filters are made of many layers of fine metal stacked on top of each other, rather than slatted grates like baffle grease filters. In use, grease and smoke are forced through and gradually screened by the mesh. The grease is then channeled into drain holes and deposited into a grease trap to avoid build up on the mesh. Due to this, however, the grease causes buildup if it is not cleaned frequently (about once a week, depending on use). The pros of using mesh filters is that they are usually dishwasher safe and can be less expensive than baffle filters.
Another difference in grease filters is the material they are made of. As mentioned above, baffle grease filters can be made from a number of different metals depending on the temperatures they must withstand.
Stainless Steel: These grease filters are highly durable and easily washable, which makes them best for high-volume restaurants. Stainless steel grease filters can be cleaned in dishwashers, soaked in water, pressure washed, or cleaned by hand unlike aluminum filters. They also come in a variety of styles and sizes to fit everywhere from home kitchen range hoods to heavy-duty restaurant exhaust hoods.
Aluminum: Aluminum filters tend to be less expensive and are therefore a more economic choice for lower-volume restaurants and kitchens. They are not as durable as stainless steel filters, however, and therefore must be cleaned by hand.
The last, but most important thing you want to consider when purchasing your kitchen grease filter is the size of the filter and the space you are trying to put it in. Be sure you have the correct measurements for both height and width. You can determine which is which by holding your baffle filter so the ridges run vertically, from top to bottom. The height will run parallel to the ridges while the width will run perpendicular to them. Keep in mind that filter measurements are often listed as whole numbers, meaning that they are slightly rounded up to the nearest whole number. Exact sizes of the filters are roughly half an inch smaller in size.