Thursday, 2 July 2015

Air Conditioning Ductwork Cleaning – Summer Prep

Summer is Here – But is Your Air Conditioning Ductwork Ready?

As the weather steadily gets warmer across the UK, restaurants, hotels, pubs and leisure businesses of all kinds are in full swing for the summer season. Extra staff are on standby, ice machines have been switched on, and outside dining areas set up – but have you given a thought to arranging air conditioning ductwork cleaning?

If you run a pub, restaurant or other leisure business then your air conditioning is now an expected and essential facility. With air conditioning now commonplace in most workplaces and public buildings, including supermarkets, retail stores, shopping malls, leisure centres and so on, the public now expect restaurants and pubs to be kept at a comfortable temperature no matter how hot it may be outside. In fact, many people will seek out air conditioned environments to escape the heat of their own homes.

But air conditioning does more than just keep your employees and customers cool and comfortable – it also maintains air quality, filtering out impurities of all kinds including excess moisture, dirt, dust, pollen, fungal spores and other microorganisms.

As air is drawn through ductwork, some of these impurities inevitably accumulate on the surface of the ducts, providing a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and mould. Without regular air conditioning ductwork cleaning this build-up can reach dangerous levels, potentially affecting the quality of air being provided to your customers. In mild cases this can affect comfort – especially those with asthma and allergies. But in more extreme cases, dirty ductwork can cause serious infection. Where dust, fibres or other debris accumulate to high levels, it can also pose a significant fire hazard.

All ventilation ductwork is required to be cleaned at least every 2 years to avoid these problems, and needs to be carried out by an approved cleaning contractor. However there are other reasons for ensuring regular air conditioning ductwork cleaning:

Performance – Clogged up ductwork, fans and filters will prevent the air conditioning functioning properly. As well as not giving the cooling effect and air quality you need, you will probably find yourself continually turning up the power to maximum, with a knock-on effect on your electricity bill.

Health – Dirty ducts, filters and fans can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mould of all kinds – so your air conditioning system could end up sending these unwanted particles into your premises for your employees and customers to breathe in.

Odours – As well as keeping air cool and clean, air conditioning has a big role to play in taking away unpleasant odours, particularly food and cooking smells which can be off-putting to customers. Keeping ductwork and filters clean helps to keep your premises smelling fresh, creating an attractive atmosphere for your clientele.

Our Air Conditioning Ductwork Cleaning and Inspection Service

If you've recently taken over a new premises you are immediately responsible for the state of the ductwork, no matter what condition it was left in by the previous owner. We can arrange to inspect your ductwork and let you know how soon a clean is likely to be required.

Inspections are also useful if you are not sure how frequently you need to have ductwork cleaned. Combining air conditioning ductwork cleaning with inspections you can, over time, find out the right frequency of cleaning for your premises.

Ingot Services provide expert cleaning services for industrial ductwork of all kinds including kitchen extracts and air conditioning ductwork. Our cleaning service can be arranged to suit your business, avoiding busy times – and can even be carried out at night if required.

Air Conditioning Ductwork Cleaning – Call us today  on 0800 731 7892 to arrange cleaning for your business premises.

Commercial Kitchen Cleaning – Preventing Vermin

Preventing Vermin in Your Commercial Kitchen

In this article, commercial kitchen cleaning experts Ingot Services examine the problem of different types of vermin in commercial food outlets such as restaurants, hotels, pubs and takeaways. We take a look at the most common types of vermin and the conditions which attract them and help them to breed. Then we consider what cleaning and storage practices are necessary to minimise the chances of vermin being attracted to your premises, including steps you can take yourself on a day to day basis, and when support from a commercial kitchen cleaning contractor can help.

Ideal Conditions for Vermin
Kitchens of all kinds, whether domestic or commercial, are prime targets for vermin of all kinds, simply because they provide a source of food and water necessary for pests to breed – unless preventative measures are taken and kitchen owners remain vigilant. The three most common and problematic types of vermin are:

1. Rats and Mice
Although these are the largest pests that can pose a problem in kitchens they can, amazingly, go unnoticed for long periods of time. They will not typically live inside the kitchen itself, but can live in ducts or pipes or in outside areas, and will typically prefer to go looking for food during the night, when a commercial kitchen is dark and quiet. However, they can wreak all kinds of havoc, even if you can't see them - leaving droppings and contaminating unprotected food supplies, resulting in the spread of bacteria or diseases which can then affect employees and diners.

2. Flies
As well as looking for food, flies will also be looking for places to lay eggs – and their favourite place to do this is in decaying organic matter. Commercial kitchens are potentially excellent sources of decaying matter of course, in the form of food scraps or even fresh food left in the open. They also like to lay eggs in faeces – so they will be attracted to mouse or rat droppings which have been left undetected. If they do manage to lay their eggs then a kitchen can become infested with thousands of flies, making the kitchen completely unusable.

3. Cockroaches
Cockroaches are floor-dwelling creatures which prefer to live in areas which are warm, humid and dark – such as underneath kitchen units and cooking equipment. They will tend to stay out of sight during the daytime and go looking for food at night. Any type of decaying organic matter will suit them as a food source including vegetables, meat and grain, either raw or cooked. Well known for being hardy, adults can go without food for two or even three months – so even the occasional spill that isn't cleaned up promptly can be enough to keep them going. Although they are ground-dwellers, they are also great climbers and will find their way onto walls, worktops and shelving, not to mention ductwork of all kinds, spreading all manner of bacteria as they go, making them a big source of food poisoning wherever they are allowed to live.

Preventing Vermin – A Three-Pronged Attack
The preferred habits and food sources of these vermin gives important clues as to how to discourage and minimise the possibility of any of these pests being attracted to your premises. We suggest a three-pronged approach:

1. Storage
The most important task is to make sure that there is no food available. This obviously includes cleaning up spills and disposing of food waste properly, but it also means ensuring proper storage and protection of all food intended for consumption. 

This means storing food in non-penetrable containers, away from ground level. Where storage units have their own door (e.g. fridges, freezer, cold store rooms and pantries) these must be kept closed and have a suitable airtight seal to prevent tiny insects getting in.

Where food is not kept in a separate, sealed storage unit (e.g. on shelving, racks etc) then the containers themselves need to be tough and non-penetrable, and should not include, for example, fibre sacks, foil or thin plastic, which can all be easily chewed through.

Once a pest has found a food supply at your premises once, they will keep coming back, in the hope of finding more. They will then explore beyond the original food source to look for more food, or to see if they can also find a suitable place to nest. This means that it isn't just kitchens which are perpetually dirty than can attract vermin. One unprotected food container, one load of unwashed dishes or one food spill can be enough to in bring in a pest.

2. Daily cleaning
A regular and effective daily cleaning regimen is essential to eliminate the other main source of food for vermin – waste food. This needs to include:

  • Thorough cleaning of all worktops and surfaces that might have a layer of food left on them.
  • Cleaning up all spills of food or drink promptly, in any part of the premises, including the kitchen or dining area.
  • All dishes and pans washed and dried prior to leaving the premises at closing time.
  • All food waste removed from the kitchen area and placed in non-penetrable bins outside the premises.
3. Strategic commercial kitchen cleaning
Even the strictest of daily cleaning regimes will be unable to reach some areas – such as behind some units or in crevices between worktops. It also won't address the build up of grease in some types of kitchen equipment or in inaccessible ductwork.
So it is essential to call in an expert commercial kitchen cleaning company to carry out the jobs that you cannot carry out yourself. This includes:

Deep Kitchen Cleaning – A deep clean ensures that you are starting from a clean base, maximising the effectiveness of your own daily cleaning. Depending on how heavily the kitchen is used, a deep clean may be required just occasionally, or on a regular basis.

Kitchen Equipment Cleaning – Some types of kitchen equipment, such as grills and fryers, accumulate grease quickly, which can provide a food source for pests, as well as being a general hygiene issue. This equipment needs to be completed dismantled and cleaned by a professional cleaning company on a regular schedule.

Kitchen Extract Cleaning – Grease and dirt build up most quickly in kitchen extract equipment 
including hoods, canopies, fans and ductwork – but these are generally inaccessible to kitchen staff. Kitchen extracts need to be cleaned regularly by law, to prevent them becoming a fire hazard – but you will also be helping to eliminate a potential food source for vermin.

Commercial Kitchen Cleaning – Ingot Services carry out all types of cleaning for commercial kitchens in hotels, restaurants, clubs and other establishments. Call us today on 0800 731 7892 to find out more.