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Hinge kits for rooftop kitchen exhaust fans: A great idea and a code requirement

A hinge kit on your rooftop kitchen exhaust fan put you in compliance, eliminates a safety hazard, and helps prevent damage to the fan and your roof.

What happens every time your kitchen exhaust fan is cleaned

If you have a rooftop fan for your kitchen exhaust system, think about this.  Every time you get your kitchen exhaust system cleaned, the cleaning crew is going to go up on your roof.  They need to remove the fan in order to clean the fan and the upper part of the ductwork properly.  The fan might weigh 50 or 100 pounds or more.  They may be working at night, and the roof will sometimes be slippery.

What happens if you have a code-compliant hinge kit in place

If the fan is hinged and supplied with flexible, weatherproof electrical cable and service hold-open retainers, as required by the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 96 standard which has been adopted by the Illinois State Fire Marshal, all they have to do is tip the fan back and put the hold-open retainers in place, and get to work.  When they are done, they just take out the retainer, and pivot the fan back into place, where it neatly fits into its original space.

What happens if you don’t have a code-compliant hinge kit in place (safety and damage risks)

However, if the fan is not hinged, it is a very different story.  The crew now has to remove the heavy, greasy fan and put it somewhere on the roof, often while working in the dark or in slippery conditions.  They will likely have to disconnect the electrical cords.  This is a safety hazard, both from the lifting and also the risk of dropping the fan on a foot or another body part.

It can also be a rough ride for the fan, the curb, and the roof. Frequently, there are sharp edges on the fan.  They can damage the roof, even if the fan is placed down gently.  The fan housing can be bent or dented, often compromising the way it fits back into its space.  When the fan is replaced, even if nothing has been dented already, with nothing to guide the fan into place, the fan housing or the curb can easily be damages as the crew maneuvers the fan.

Of course, there is also the chance that the crew may decide that it is too difficult or too dangerous to remove the fan at all, in which case your system is not going to be properly cleaned.

All of these are reasons why the NFPA has Paragraph in NFPA 96, which requires an upblast exhaust fan serving a kitchen grease exhaust system to be hinged and supplied with flexible, weatherproof electrical cable and service hold-open retainers.

What to do

In order to comply with the NFPA 96 standard and the State Fire Code, you need to get compliant hinge kits on your exhaust fans.  We can supply them and install them if you like.  Just not when it’s this crazy cold out!