Frequently Asked Questions About The Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Industry and IKECA

What is IKECA?

IKECA is an international trade association representing kitchen exhaust cleaning specialists and inspectors of commercial kitchen exhaust systems.

How do I find an IKECA member?

Easy. Follow the link to Find a Member. You can search by zip code, company name or by state. Many members service multiple states, so make sure to check states adjacent to yours. Enter the two-letter state/territory abbreviation when conducting your search.

What is certification?

Certification is a knowledge-based recognition of an individual who shows a competency on the guidelines, codes and standards in the industry. By studying the materials and passing the test, a student shows that they have a working knowledge of the required codes and standards that apply to the entire industry.
Neither training nor certification guarantees that any company or individual will do a good job. Some organizations offer “certification for life” and others let candidates take open book exams. IKECA’s programs are different. We believe that individuals should continue their education well beyond the exam, and that those that we certify, uphold the most rigid Code of Conduct in the industry.

Why do I need to get certified to work in the city of Boston?

In May, 2008, the City Council passed an Ordinance requiring that all contractors who clean or inspect commercial kitchen exhaust systems within the City limits obtain and maintain certification. Visit the website for this program.

What is continuing education?

Continuing education is essential in any certification program. By updating and refreshing your knowledge of the industry, you show a commitment to lifelong learning and bettering yourself. This shows a dedication and commitment to the work that you do. All IKECA certifications require Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) to qualify for renewal.

Does IKECA certify companies?

No. IKECA members are companies engaged in the cleaning and inspection of commercial kitchen exhaust systems. IKECA certifies the individuals doing the work, but not the company. For a list of member companies who have met all the requirements of membership, click HERE.

Does IKECA offer training?

No. IKECA is an Accredited Standards Developer with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Part of that process involves the separation of training and certification. Any program that offers training and certification should be reviewed carefully for any indications of impropriety in the exam process.

How often should my kitchen exhaust system be cleaned?

According to NFPA 96 – 2011, Section 11.4: “The entire exhaust system shall be inspected for grease buildup by a properly trained, qualified, and certified person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction and in accordance with Table 11.4.”

NFPA 96 - 11.4 Exhaust system inspection schedule

Type or Volume of Cooking Frequency Frequency
Systems serving solid fuel cooking operations Monthly
Systems serving high-volume cooking operations such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling, or wok cooking Quarterly
Systems serving moderate-volume cooking operations Semiannually
Systems serving low-volume cooking operations, such as churches, day camps, seasonal businesses, or senior centers. Annually

What components of a kitchen exhaust system should typically be cleaned?

According to NFPA 96 – 2011, Section 11.6.1: “Upon inspection, if the exhaust system is found to be contaminated with deposits from grease-laden vapors, the contaminated portions of the exhaust system shall be cleaned be a properly trained, qualified, and certified person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.”

What should I consider to be clean?

According to NFPA-96 section 11.6.2: “Hoods, grease removal devices, fans, ducts, and other appurtenances shall be cleaned to remove combustible contaminants prior to surfaces becoming heavily contaminated with grease or oily sludge.”
IKECA has developed a grease gauge to determine the cleanliness of the system. Made of light weight high impact plastic, the IKECA Grease Gauge include markings for depths ranging from zero to .125 inches and notations of No Grease Build Up, Acceptable (grease build up), Cleaning Required, and Critical Depth to assist in determining the need for cleaning. They are available for purchase on IKECA’s Online Store.

What risks am I exposed to in not properly cleaning a kitchen exhaust system?

Grease and particulate buildup in the exhaust system is a fire hazard, and greatly impacts on the efficiency and lifetime of mechanical equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the majority of restaurant fires originate on the kitchen cooking appliances and flare into the kitchen exhaust system. If the entire exhaust system is not cleaned, a significant risk for fire exists whenever cooking appliances are used.

What is the advantage of using an IKECA member?

IKECA is a leader in educating its members about safety, cleaning techniques and many other areas. Since its inception, IKECA has established stringent Standards & Practices for contractors engaged in kitchen exhaust cleaning, and regularly conducts a variety of educational and training programs to further improve the quality and workmanship of its members.

Why do I need access panels installed in my exhaust system?

Access panels may be necessary to properly reach and clean areas of the exhaust system. Sometimes at the construction of the exhaust system, the proper amount of access panels needed to maintain the cleanliness of the system may not have been installed. This prevents a complete cleaning of the system and increases the risk of fire. NFPA recommends installation every 12 feet of ductwork.

Why do I need to have hinges installed on my exhaust fan?

NFPA 96 8.1.1 states that all approved Upblast fans be installed with hinges. A fan with fixed positions is far more stable and less likely to have problems with balance and bearing misalignment due to limited movement allowed during the cleaning and inspection process. Properly installed hinge kits may add to the strength of the base and assist in minimizing metal fatigue over the years in larger fans.