The quality of air in a restaurant may be as important as the food and ambiance for a comfortable dining experience. The air is only noticeable when it’s less than perfect and if you can see or smell yours. It’s probably time to consider improving indoor air quality (IAQ) as a way to enhance the dining experience of your customers and the work environment for your staff.
Keep the HVAC System Clean
The condition of your HVAC system will make a big difference in the IAQ. Besides routine filter changes, it’s important to schedule your HVAC system’s annual maintenance and inspection. When in the cooling mode, HVAC systems can serve as breeding grounds for mold and even Legionnaire’s disease under the right conditions.
Both thrive whenever moisture is present. Mold spores can attach themselves to almost anything. They will live inside the HVAC system just as easily as they can inside the ductwork. The bacteria that cause the disease, Legionella pneumophila, lives in water. It can only infect others when they breathe a mist or water droplets that contain it. An inspection once a year will help improve indoor air quality and prevent the spread of serious diseases and allergens.
Curtailing mold and bacterial growth also increase cooling efficiency. When biofilms grow on the cooling coils of the HVAC system, they slow the cooling process by insulating the coil. Anything that interferes with the heat removal from your restaurant drives up cooling costs. It also increases the discomfort your customers and wait staff experience in the dining areas, which can be stressful.
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The importance of adequate ventilation can’t be overestimated when improving indoor air quality in your restaurant. Cooking creates high humidity in the form of steam and smoke. If you use gas as your fuel, you’ll also have its byproducts in the kitchen. A gas stove produces nitrogen dioxide (NO2), formaldehyde (HCHO) and carbon monoxide (CO). Each of these harms health to certain degrees, and over time, the damage builds.
It’s important to keep the exhaust fans and ventilation systems clean through regular cleanings for improving indoor air quality. When they’re coated with fats, the fan blades don’t spin as quickly and the air filters clog. It slows the amount of air exiting through the fans.
Switching to green cleaning products is a big step toward improving indoor air quality. More often than not, commercial cleaners are loaded with products that contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds). They linger in the air and cause reactions that could be minor or life-threatening.
VOCs are known air pollutants and while your customers aren’t likely to be in your building long enough to react to them, your staff will be. VOCs are largely to blame for sick building syndrome. Absenteeism due to headaches, sore throats, and general malaise could improve by switching to green cleaning products.
Products that are likely to have high levels of VOCs are those that use chemical compounds and man-made perfumes. Their odors usually linger after they’ve dried and there may be an extensive warning box on their labels regarding handling and poison control.
Green cleaning products don’t contain VOCs. They won’t cause any lasting damage and clean just as effectively as harsh chemicals. Over time, chemical cleaners leave residues behind that could land up in the food you serve or on the skin or clothing of your customers. Switching to them is an easy way to start improving indoor air quality.
Whether you’re interested in improving indoor air quality or need service on your AC systems from a professional technician, Forrest Anderson has experience in servicing and maintaining your restaurant HVAC system.