Q: How often should I have my restaurant vent a hood exhaust system cleaned?
A: Your System should be inspected at minimum per this schedule and if the system is found to be contaminated with grease laden deposits the entire system shall then be cleaned
Q: My present company states that an exhaust cleaning company must be certified to clean hoods and that I have to hire them, and is this true?
A: This is a common twist the customers arm, or scare tactic to get an advantage above other reputable non-certified cleaning companies. They always forget the rest of the code from NFPA #96 11.4.1 which also states or person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction in accordance with section 11.3 . The authority having jurisdiction definition in a short answer from NFPA 96 A.3.2.2 Is where public safety is primary, the authority having jurisdiction may be a federal, state, local, or other regional department or individual such as a fire chief; fire marshal; chief of a fire prevention bureau, labor department, or health department; building official; electrical inspector; or others having statutory authority. For insurance purposes it could be an insurance inspection department, rating bureau, or other insurance company representative may be the AHJ. In many circumstances the property owner or his or her designated agent assumes the role of the AHJ; at government installations, the commanding officer or department official may be the AHJ. ( All information regarding NFPA Codes are derived from NFPA #96 2001 edition and can be viewed or purchased at NFPA)
So the real answer to the question is no you do not have to hire a certified company, and no restaurant exhaust cleaners do not have to be certified.
There is no written holy grail that says who can certify who when it comes right down to it. A certification is nothing but a piece of paper, and is only as good as the company that is performing the cleaning or service for you. There are many non-certified companies out there, that hold their standards higher than many certified companies, and many can prove it with the pictures of shoddy work performed by these certified contractors. Certification really stands for person(s) properly trained, qualified, and competent to perform their job. Certification Schools or other classes have no way, or interest in monitoring their certified for shoddy work. So now many exhaust companies train and certify their own which helps with quality control of the industry. One way to find a good professional non-certified or certified company is one that offers before and after pictures of every job. These hood cleaning companies are proud of their work and have nothing to hide.
Q: Do I have to stay at the restaurant while they clean, or can I go home after I sign my paperwork, and pay my invoice?
A: You or your employees have worked all day, so why would anyone want to stay late, or have to get up early for a cleaning? Why dig into the budget, and pay an hourly wage for your employee to sit at the establishment to watch a cleaning? Save the money, get some sleep, and leave it up to our bonded employees to do what they do best. They will turn out the lights if asked, pull the door shut and make sure it is even locked on the way out. We have even set alarms for customers and used keys dropped off for us, or left the in a certain spot or lock box.