People who own or work for companies involved with exhaust cleaning at restaurants or other facilities that prepare food are well aware of the value of having a high-quality hinge kit installed on rooftop fans. The challenge is in convincing the restaurant owner or general manager of the importance of investing in a hinge kit, and not just ANY hinge kit, but the RIGHT hinge kit. There are many expenses involved in running and maintaining a restaurant. Those in charge of determining where to allocate funds might place other needs before the installation of a hinge kit. Here are a few reasons why that position should be reevaluated.
NFPA 96 is the code that outlines safety standards for restaurants. It was compiled by many experts in the fire prevention and restaurant safety field and is considered to be the authority on the subject. Chapter 184.108.40.206 of the NFPA 96 standard reads: “Approved upblast fans with motors surrounded by the air stream shall be hinged, supplied with flexible, weatherproof electrical cable and service hold-open retainers, and listed for this use.” A restaurant owner might reply “OK, that’s what the code says. But why? Why are hinges necessary?”
First and foremost, hinges are necessary for the safety of service personnel involved with cleaning the exhaust system, the fan, and the rooftop. Those exhaust fans can weigh anywhere from 50 lbs. to a few hundred lbs. If there is no hinge kit, the fan must be lifted off the curb. Imagine two people lifting a large, heavy, unwieldy object like that fan under normal conditions. Now add in the fact that the fan is likely coated with grease. Many hood cleanings are done in the early morning hours, so it is dark. Maybe it’s not a flat roof, but pitched. There could be poor weather conditions. There is a real possibility of losing control of the fan and having it smash down on fingers, feet, or anywhere. Besides the injury the servicer endures, there is insurance liability to consider. Eliminating that possibility is reason enough to get a high-quality hinge installed.
There are other reasons, though. Instead of falling on a person, the fan may land on the roof instead. Fans have sharp corners and other protruding parts that could gouge the roof, maybe badly enough to require expensive repairs. The fan itself could suffer major damage. If any of the above scenarios were to occur, the expense would likely be many times that of purchasing a hinge kit, which, by the way, is in almost all cases a one-time expense because good hinge kits almost never require maintenance.
Another point is that a hinge kit, besides keeping service providers safe, also makes their job much easier to do and in significantly less time. This could lead to lower prices for the restaurant. Many hood cleaning companies have, in fact, adopted a policy that they won’t clean the exhaust system unless a strong, reliable hinge kit is in place. And Fire Marshals and other authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ’s) are more and more insistent that NFPA 96 code is adhered to. It’s that important.
Now that the importance of hinge kit installation has been established, it must be further noted that a proper-fitting and NFPA 96 code compliant hinge is necessary to meet the spirit of the code as well as the wording. A weak hinge that doesn’t fit the unique characteristics of a particular fan isn’t much better than no hinge at all. Drain-Net Technologies offers two main styles of our Super Hinge in a wide variety of sizes. They accommodate small and typical-sized fans, as well as the largest ones in use today. They adapt to unusual configurations and are the only patented hinges to include the service hold-open retainer required by NFPA 96 code.