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Are You Risking the Life of Your Kitchen? 18 examples of fake duct cleans June 18, 2020



“But I get my duct cleaned for $400.”

Sorry, what?


One of the best things about Shepherd Filters is how much grease they stop getting into extraction systems (up to 98% to be exact).  In fact, they are so effective, they reduce the need for duct cleaning dramatically.

And this excites me. 

I love explaining to restaurant owners that they no longer must pay someone three times a year to come in and clean their ducts. 

They no longer have to worry about the fuel that sits directly above their sizzling cooking equipment in between every duct clean. 

And they don’t have to invest half of their next vacation’s budget in this disgusting task.   

But when I’m on the phone and someone tells me they are getting their entire kitchen extraction duct cleaned for $400, my heart sinks. 

I can’t help but wonder if they ever check the job before they pay.


Is their duct actually clean?


Shepherd Filters Australia inspects extraction ducts for kitchens who would like a risk assessment. 

“We are so concerned by the state of some systems we see and the risks people are taking by not checking the kitchen exhaust cleaning work that is being done by the duct cleaner”


Here are 18 examples of fake duct cleans that Shepherd Filters have found:


Fake Duct Clean 1

Here, the top and back walls have been cleaned.  However, the front section above the kitchen grease filters has been left laden with grease.

Fake Duct Clean 2

Right above the filter is the easiest spot to get away with not cleaning.  This is what causes unsightly grease dribbles right after a clean.  Make sure you check this space. 

Fake duct clean 3

Another cleaner attempting to get away without cleaning above the filters.

Fake duct clean 4

And a third … Make sure you check!

fake duct clean 5

Back walls are easy to see, so they normally get cleaned.  But don’t forget to check left and right. 

fake duct clean 6

And again.  The back wall was shiny clean.  But look up.  Look left.  This is the real story.

fake duct clean 7

Some kitchen exhaust cleaners are very skilled at not cleaning the areas they think you won’t see. 

fake duct clean 8

Here the back half of the roof, and the end wall has been cleaned, but in between each filter and above them, grease is laden thick.

fake duct clean 11

Inside a McDonalds system, only hours after a ‘clean’.

fake duct clean 9

This duct cleaner claims to be the best and never do bad work.  However, the kitchen tried to call them back repeatedly: they refused to return and would not honour their money back guarantee.

Fake duct clean 10

This is the same company who did the job on the left.  Here, they just didn’t even bother. 

fake duct clean 12

Shepherd Filters Australia call this ‘one of the worst examples of a poor attempt’ that they have ever seen.  The cleaner was a large national contractor with memberships to all the right organisations.  This is a shocking reminder that expensive does not always guarantee quality.

fake duct clean 13

A subduct right above the canopy left untouched right after a kitchen canopy clean.  If the job is cheap, it will be for a reason. 

fake duct clean 14

This is just sad.  2mm grease is enough to burn down a kitchen exhaust system.  Paying for a clean that leaves this grease is wasted money.  Plus, look down end of duct work where they stopped.

fake duct clean 15

Again.  Simply lazy and lack of integrity.  This clean cost thousands.

fake duct clean 16

Yet another example where the duct cleaner does not do their job.

fake duct clean 17

Again, wasted time and money.

fake duct clean 18

If you don’t check the work, you could only get a canopy hood clean.  The ducting and fan often remains untouched. 


So there you go … fake duct cleans are real. 


And yes, your duct cleaner may only charge you $400.  But what are they really cleaning?

$400 is usually about 4 hours of work. 

Cleaning grease from extraction systems is difficult and time-consuming.  It is unlikely your entire extraction hood and ducting will be cleaned in this time. 

Most likely, the cleaner cleaned just what they could reach – probably the hood. 


But we know that 2mm of grease build-up is enough fuel to burn down your entire kitchen exhaust system. 


Is there really any point paying even $400 for a clean that leaves far more than 2mm of build-up throughout your entire duct?

If you are a small restaurant or cafe, with an extraction system that goes straight through the exterior and finishes with a unit on the outside, you are probably looking at $600-$800 for a quality clean. 

And if you are a bigger kitchen, or in a multi-story building with lots of ducting you could be looking at a figure closer to $3000-$4000.

And remember after-hours and travel charges are all added on top of this.


In summary … 


I am not accusing every duct cleaning of being a fraud – of course some will be faster than others.  But the evidence shows that fake cleans do exist. 

I am simply urging kitchen owners to be more diligent.   Please don’t become another victim of fake duct cleans.  

If you genuinely care about the safety of your people and your kitchen, you are best to invest.  Use a trustworthy duct-cleaner, and always check their job before paying.   


And if you can’t afford proper duct cleans as frequently as you require? 

Why not invest in a solution that catches the grease before it enters your extraction system?


Like Shepherd Filters, for example : )



About the Author:

Saskia Prestidge is a content marketer, passionate about critical hygiene in the food industry. 

Amazed by the team’s extensive experience, Saskia is on a mission to squeeze the knowledge from their heads and share it with the food industry. 

Saskia would love to hear from you.  Find her at saskia@presco.co.nz




2 responses to “Are You Risking the Life of Your Kitchen? 18 examples of fake duct cleans”

  1. Steve Smith says:

    Duct CLEANING services are crucial for maintaining optimal health standards but beware of the fake cleaners. This is a very useful blog for people who don’t have idea of CLEANING costs. Really Appreciate your work

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