The Importance of Installing a Duct Access Doors for Kitchen

The Importance of Installing a Duct Access Doors for Kitchen

Since most commercial kitchens have a fast-paced environment, it is somewhat inevitable for some staff to have minor burning incidents while cooking. However, due to the prevalence of fire and heat in these facilities, the need for extensive fire safety equipment and protocols only makes perfect sense. Statistics necessitated a more elaborate fire regulation that includes preventative maintenance.

Any restaurant with full kitchen capabilities naturally requires regular cleaning and maintenance. Aside from keeping the ingredients fresh and the kitchen equipment sterile, maintaining the cleanliness and functionality of the kitchen’s exhaust system must also be a priority.

A fully-operational commercial kitchen most likely has exhaust systems to reduce the amount of smoke during opening hours. While the exhaust is placed above the burners, the maintenance personnel still needs enough space to thoroughly clean and inspect the unit. Your kitchen would need duct access doors and panels to address this specific requirement.

The safety and cleanliness of commercial kitchens rely on many things, but duct access doors are unquestionably vital in ensuring both. But what exactly are duct access doors, and what benefits can you gain when installing them?

What are Duct Access Panels?

To fully comprehend the importance of duct access doors, you first need to understand their functionality. These panels are essential in commercial kitchens and restaurants since it helps the cleaners effectively and conveniently remove grease and dust build-up from the ducts.

Commercial kitchens also present a high probability of fire and burn-related incidents. You can mitigate this possibility by regularly cleaning the exhaust and hood ventilation system. It would be best to make time for regular cleaning and inspections on your duct system, and while this area is often difficult to reach, duct access doors allow for a convenient passage.

To ensure that the cleaners can fit through the ducts, your building contractor must provide and perform the following for a successful installation:

  • Suitable size opening so that a grown person can crawl inside (at least 20″ by 20″)
  • Placed once every 12 feet of duct length
  • Made of the same kind of material and thickness as the ducts (16 or 18-gauge steel)
  • Installed 1 1/2 inches away from the edge of the duct

The critical thing to accomplish is that the ducts must be easily reachable when it’s time for cleaning or maintenance.

Benefits of Duct Access Doors

Despite the numerous benefits of duct access panels, many businesses still overlook their importance. Here are some of the benefits you stand to receive when you decide to install one in your kitchen.

1. Reduce Fire Hazards

Acudor Round Duct Access Door / Access Panel - AccessDoorsAndPanels

While safety procedures can mitigate potential risks, some hazards can be difficult to prevent since they are not within sight or are barely noticeable. For example, a commercial kitchen with a run-down exhaust system can potentially put the staff at risk due to the build-up of combustible grease.

Grease deposits in exhaust systems are highly combustible, making them highly dangerous. Once ignited, a grease fire can move swiftly, resulting in fire system failure since it will not generate the adequate heat required in triggering the system.

Ventilation and ductwork cleaning and maintenance are critical in ensuring that your business will run smoothly. Unexpected incidents and repairs can substantially affect day-to-day operations and are expensive to fix.

2. Fulfill Local Regulations

Depending on your jurisdiction, there may be several fire and health regulations you need to fulfill for your business. Proper cleaning is necessary for most commercial kitchens, especially in stores where the menu mainly involves deep-frying and food catering.

One of the many standards that businesses must meet is the NFPA-96 Standard which involves the design and capacity of the exhaust system and its location depending on the cooking equipment. Some of the relevant NFPA-96 regulations include:

  • NFPA-96 4.1.8: The regulation requires all exhaust system areas to have access doors to ensure proper cleaning.
  • NFPA-96 5.1.2: All areas that contain grease and exhaust vapors must have a watertight wield. The external wield must be secured until the lower and outermost extent of the ventilation hood.
  • NFPA-96 7.3.1: The regulation states that the access panels must be installed on the most accessible part of the duct system.
  • NFPA-96 You need to ensure a 20″ by 20″ opening in all horizontal ducts to allow a proper human entry point.
  • NFPA-96 The openings must be accessible by a 10-feet stepladder or work stage.
  • NFPA-96 A proper access for cleaning must be provided if human entry is not possible.

In addition, the duct access door must be made with the same materials and thickness as the ductwork as part of the installation process. The duct panel also needs a proper gasket or grease tight seal feature that can withstand up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, the unit must include stainless or carbon steel fasteners that will not pierce through the duct surface.

Since fire regulations vary per state or city, hiring an expert in the local guidelines to advise on safety and best practices on cleaning can make this tedious task less challenging to handle.

3. Eliminate The Need For Chemical Cleaners

Chemical cleaning agents effectively remove even the most stubborn stains or blockage in ventilation hoods. However, they pose a significant threat to the water supply.

Hood cleaning chemicals can effectively remove grease and dirt from several components in the exhaust system, such as fans, grills, ducts, and even the kitchen floor. When it comes to commercial hood cleaning, the cleaner must ensure that the chemicals do not flow into the storm city drains to prevent polluting the local water supply.


Installing commercial duct access panels in your restaurant is necessary, especially during repair and maintenance services. Disregarding its importance adds additional expenses and reduces the effectiveness of the cleaning service since the cleaners cannot fully access the ducts.

While the available grease duct panels have various features and functionalities, they all have the same primary objective. But to make sure that your business complies with local codes, you can always talk to your contractor to get a professional opinion on which duct access door to purchase.