Why does my kitchen need an air balance?
Why does the health department require an air balance? Through just one restaurant kitchen, hundreds of meals are prepared and served to customers daily, potentially thousands on a monthly basis. This means 1 restaurants can be responsible for the safety of thousands of people. Things that can result in unhealthy food conditions are an unclean kitchens, rodents, unsanitary food practice, and even an un-properly balanced kitchen!
Why is a Kitchen air balance important?
A kitchen can have up to 3 types of "air moving" devices. First (the largest one), is the "Kitchen Hood Exhaust Fan", which pulls smoke, steam, heat, but more importantly, "lots" of air. Air being removed from enclosed building creates negative building pressures. Kitchen exhaust fans are powerful and can create negative pressures strong enough to pull air from where ever it can get it... thru the walls, receptacle outlets, plumbing, the cold AC air, and even the attic. This can result in uncontrollably dirty kitchens, awful sewage odors, and uncomfortable dining conditions. All of these, creating unhealthy food conditions!
So how do I fix this problem? To counter the negative pressures the kitchen exhaust hood creates, it's logical to simply bring air right back into the building, right? This brings us to our second device, the MAU, or (make-up air unit). The MAU does exactly that! Brings outside air directly into the kitchen to counter the negative pressures and brings "balance" right back into the building. No sewage smells and no more dirty kitchens! Seems simple enough but it doesn't end there, having a MAU doesn't fix everything just like that! Both the Exhaust and the MAU need to be balanced properly so there are neither negative pressures or even positive pressures in the building. Even with an MAU the kitchen can still remain in a negative pressure. This means either the Exhaust needs to be slowed down or the MAU needs to be sped up, or both. Why is a positive building pressure bad? Having a positive building pressure can create steam and smoke roll back. The overly-positive pressures will not allow the Kitchen hood to do it's job and suck out all the smoke and steam from the kitchen. This will create a very smoky and humid restaurant. All of these problems are why the health department require a kitchen air balance report to be provided by a trained and certified specialist. This is where we come into the picture! We are experts in balancing Kitchen hoods, MAUs, and HVAC systems to leave your kitchen running smooth. We even provided certified and legitimate air balance reports to you to provide to the health department!
The third and final device, is the air conditioning unit! Most kitchens now days have central air conditioning to keep the kitchen a comfortable work environment. If so, the AC usually is installed with an OA damper, OA stands for "outside air". This means you have yet another device that brings outside air into the building. If not balanced properly this can contribute to making the buildings pressure positive! It's always recommended to have the OA balanced along with the Kitchen hood and MAU. At times, the health department will require it to be done.