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Chicago’s Choice Since 1961


24/7 Emergency Service


Althoff Industries, Inc. Blog

Signs Your Commercial Exhaust System Is Malfunctioning


Any commercial facility requires some level of exhaust for proper air circulation. For some businesses, a powerful exhaust system is one of the biggest necessities for regular operation. Restaurants and commercial kitchens require exhaust systems that must meet code requirements. 

Handling exhaust system repair in Chicago, IL is one of the many jobs we do for local businesses. We encourage you to sign up for regular maintenance service with our team so we can help you pinpoint major issues such as exhaust malfunctions before they pose a threat to regular operations. Maintenance also goes a long way toward preventing problems in the first place. However, sometimes exhaust system problems will catch you by surprise. In these cases, the best tool available to you is noticing early something is wrong so you can call us—we offer 24-hour emergency service to keep businesses working!

What are some of the ways to tell the vital exhaust system in your commercial kitchen, restaurant, or other facility needs repairs? We’ve listed some common signs below.

Strange noises from the equipment

This rule applies to most of the HVAC equipment in a commercial facility. When dealing with the exhaust system pulling fumes, smoke, and odors directly from a room, the fans already make a good deal of noise, so you have to pay attention to out-of-the-ordinary sounds to detect something wrong. The main concern is noises indicating a fan motor is failing. These sounds include screeching, buzzing, and grinding. The motors may be worn down with age, or could be overheating. We recommend turning off the exhaust fans and calling for repairs right away. 

Slow starts or fluctuations

Each time the exhaust system comes on, take notice of how long it requires to get up to full power. An exhaust system that begins to start slower and slower is probably suffering from trouble with its motors. Another issue to watch for is when the fans reach full speed, but then slow down periodically before speeding back up. This may not seem serious at first, but these fluctuations place severe wear on the motors that will eventually lead to the system burning out. Have professionals inspect the equipment if you encounter these signs.

Excessive heat

Poor ventilation in a heat-generating room such as a kitchen will mean more heat trapped in the space. This heat will also extend to other areas of the building and put more pressure on air conditioning systems. The trouble may be an imbalance in the exhaust and the make-up air units, as well as the common problems from malfunctioning motors.

Smoke and odors

These are the most alarming signs of trouble with commercial exhaust. The odor problem may start as a small one: you notice the typical smell of the kitchen is “off” in some way. This can come from the ventilation system leaving too much build-up inside the ductwork, and this can eventually create significant grease blockage in the grease filters. Smoke can also come from malfunctioning fans that aren’t rotating fast enough to draw out enough smoke from the space.

Althoff Industries, Inc. has been family-owned since 1961. Call us today for all your commercial HVAC needs—Challenges Accepted!

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