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  • M. Villarreal

Dangers of Grease Accumulation on Building Rooftops

No one thinks about grease build-up until it's downright evident something's wrong. That's why most business owners need to prevent such a scenario. You know how they say: prevention is better than cure. The first one who said it couldn't have been more right. So, what exactly are the dangers of grease accumulation on building rooftops? Why should we even care about such a thing? You're about to read everything there's to know about it. Stay tuned for some helpful info!

What Causes Grease Accumulation on Building Rooftops?

If your business has something to do with preparing food, and we reckon it does since you're reading this article, you'll want to know that it doesn't matter whether you're running a food truck or a four-star Michelin restaurant - your kitchen will generate some good old grease from all the cooking. So, how does it end up on your building's roof? Well, there are three leading causes for that:

  • Your exhaust hood system and the exhaust hood filters are unkempt (this could be for numerous reasons).

  • The up blast exhaust fan's leaking or improperly maintained.

  • You're having some issues with your rooftop exhaust fan grease catcher (such as, you don't have one).

Let's further elaborate on those three and start with a visual reminder of where it all starts.

Cause #1: Unkempt Exhaust Hood Filters and Duct Work

That's right, most of the grease your kitchen generates should be captured by your exhaust hood filters before it even gets the opportunity to end up in your ducts. If that's not functioning correctly, the grease will find its way into your hood system, where it will cause various types of issues. Regular filter clean-up is a necessity. Also, one shouldn't steer clear of deep-cleaning the whole kitchen.

Cause #2: Leaky or Dirty Upblast/Exhaust fan

Okay, so if cause #1 isn't an issue, there's a sturdy chance that your rooftop ventilation fan is leaking. Sometimes, such a scenario results from a physical problem with the fan. However, most of the time, at least more often than not, this results from poor rooftop ventilation fan maintenance (cleaning). But, to be completely honest, most of the time, your rooftop grease build-up is caused by the combo of causes #1 and #2. The two go hand in hand, as they say.

Cause #3: Rooftop ventilation Fan Grease Containment

Honestly, the trouble might lie in the fact that you haven't got one installed in the first place, or if it is, it is not being maintained properly by your current cleaning service. Without an exhaust fan grease box or containment system installed on/with your fan, the grease on your fan blades will most likely start leaking out onto your rooftop and begin a very dangerous (and many time COSTLY) process of damage.

Okay, now that we've seen the causes, let's see some consequences!

Dangers of grease accumulation on building rooftops

In this section of the article, we'll take a look at some consequences or dangers of grease accumulation on building rooftops. Stay tuned!

A greasy roof equals a fall hazard

It's only natural to think a greasy roof is a serious fall hazard if there ever was one. This will put your maintenance workers and other folks that might end up on your roof at serious risk of an injury. Not to mention that falling from a roof could very well have more enormous consequences than expected. Also, the spill could leak onto the people walking below your building's roof due to the fall. But, let's avoid using the tragic tone. Properly maintaining your kitchen or rooftop appliances will prevent this kind of scenario from coming to life.

A greasy roof's also a fire hazard

The thing is: rooftop grease can be a severe fire hazard and just as dangerous and potent as the grease built up inside your kitchen's exhaust hood. It doesn't take much for your rooftop grease to catch fire. Even a tiny electrical short in your fan can cause some good damage by potentially starting a fire on your roof. Imagine if a little fire begins inside your exhaust duct system, and there's a grease pool on your rooftop waiting for some trouble. That's also why the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) requires a grease containment system to be established as a necessary deterrent.

If you are thinking about getting your roof cleaned, it's best to seek professional assistance. After all, professionals are there to help with different aspects of one's life. Think about it - when you first moved to your home, you probably hired a company such as to help you relocate your belongings. Now that you are living in your new home, it should be no different. Only this time, instead of movers, you would contact roof cleaners.

What about the environment?

Not only is your rooftop grease build-up a severe fall or fire hazard, but it's also downright bad for the environment. You don't have to be an expert to figure out that one, right? Anyway, unmaintained building rooftops will form a runoff that's totally contaminated with grease that will subsequently enter the sewer system in case of heavy rain. Also, it will end up on the sidewalks or the road. Remember that EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) inspectors can trace the runoff to its source, so guess who they come to talk to... and guess who gets the fine (yes this was rhetorical).

Damaged warranty

Lastly, let's talk about your roof's manufacturer warranty and expectations of your landlord. Let's be clear before we go any further in this section, there is NO WARRANTY that will cover you on this. The only exception to this would be from a professional vent hood cleaning company based on their cleaning and maintenance guarantee.

It's not just about the roof being an "unsightly mess", the grease that accumulates on a rooftop can ( AND WILL ) do very costly damage to your roof if left untouched. The chemicals will actually begin to eat through - dissolve - your roof lining and materials. Once it has done this, the only way to correct the damage is through costly roof repairs. The cost will be your responsibility based on most lease agreements. and these repairs can run in the thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. And as a quick reminder, in most cases, your insurance doesn't cover the harm that's done by grease contamination since it is usually caused by neglect/poor maintenance practices.

[CONSISTANT] Preventative maintenance is the key here. Why? Once it is on a roof, it is not easily cleaned or reversed. Even if you catch it before the damage is done, in most cases, it cannot be immediately cleaned all at once due to the materials used on the roof. It becomes a process that must be tackled and reversed over time so as not to do more harm than good.

So, it's best you spend some time and funds now and then hiring folks to maintain your hood system rather than pay thousands for a partial total roof replacement. Now, that money could've gone someplace else, don't you agree?

Inspect what you Expect

You don't have to do the work, but we STRONGLY urge you to inspect what your cleaning service is doing (or not doing). For most vent hood cleaning companies, the cleaning strategy and business model is built on speed at each location so they can fit in as many jobs each night as possible. This often means they put efforts into what (and where) you can see AND NOT always in the areas that matter just as much - the unseen areas of your exhaust system such as the rooftop exhaust fan, grease containment system or ductwork . Take the time to spot check areas on your roof and in your duct work to see if they are truly cleaning what you are paying them to clean. You can check all of these usually in less than 15 minutes. If you don't want to, have a professional and certified vent hood cleaning company come out and do a free inspection. They (should) provide you with details of your system and images so you can see clearly what they are seeing.

The bottom line

Hopefully, you've realized why maintaining your building's roof should be one of your priorities. Not only will you keep your employees safe, but you'll also avoid paying fines and wasting investment funds that could've gone someplace else instead into a roof repair process that could've been avoided. Always remember, that good, regular rooftop exhaust fan cleaning and maintenance is key to success.

If you would like a Free Onsite Inspection of your vent hood system and rooftop exhaust fan, please call Cornerstone Commercial Services today: 1-800-274-3905

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