Having proper air pressure and ventilation in place at your restaurant is necessary for both employee and customer comfort and health. The costs of a restaurant having inadequate ventilation are significant. A poor system of ventilation can result in dripping air vents, mold, safety violations, uncomfortable temperatures, poor air quality and odors, lower employee morale and productivity, higher utility bills and worst of all – unhappy customers. Altogether, a poor restaurant ventilation system will cause your place of business to be a less desirable destination for paying customers.
When the air pressure inside the restaurant is less than outside, it’s called negative air pressure. Pressure is seldom uniform throughout the entire location. It can be strong in some areas, weak in others, or positive in some rooms and negative in others. In general, kitchen and rest room exhaust fans pull air from the location and that air needs to be replaced or your restaurant will be in a negative air pressure situation, and that is a real negative. The experts recommend that a slightly positive restaurant pressure is the best scenario.
A quick way to check your restaurant’s air pressure is to make sure your kitchen exhaust and air conditioning systems are on and running properly. Go to the front door and slightly crack open the door. Does the airflow in or out? You can use a small piece of paper or even some smoke to help determine the direction of the air. If the air is pulling into your restaurant, you have a negative air pressure situation and that is not ideal. What that tells you is that your hard earned dollars are blowing right out of your restaurant as the exhaust units are sucking your air conditioning out of your restaurant making your air conditioning units run longer, work harder and use more electricity and that costs you money, not to mention all of the other issues associated with negative pressure in a location.
It is extremely important to be sure that there is sufficient air being brought into the restaurant from the outside through the ventilation systems to replace what the kitchen exhaust hoods and other exhaust fans are pulling out of the space. This is called “makeup air” as it is making up or replacing the air that is being pulled out the building by exhaust fans.
If you’re experiencing air balance problems after testing your restaurant it may be a good idea to discuss this issue with an Air Conditioning (HVAC) Professional. It may be necessary to make repairs or adjustments to your systems to balance the air coming in and out of your restaurant. An HVAC technician can evaluate your location and equipment and provide suitable options that meet OSHA standards for workplace ventilation.
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