Why Your Restaurant Needs A Makeup Air Unit

Why Your Restaurant Needs A Makeup Air Unit

A makeup air unit is a necessary item for your commercial kitchen because it pulls replacement air into the kitchen to compensate for what is being drawn out of the kitchen by your kitchen exhaust hoods. These units pull outdoor air inside and brings it to the indoor temperature. If you don’t have one of these units in your kitchen you’ll get back drafting, poor temperature control in your kitchen, negative air pressure, and air quality issues.

A makeup air unit for your kitchen is typically installed on the roof or in a mechanical room, and functions to provide a steady stream of outside supply air into your kitchen.

Here are some additional reasons you need a makeup air unit in your restaurant kitchen. 

Replace Air Removed By Your Exhaust System

We touched on this one above, but due to its importance, it’s worth mentioning again. Depending on the time of cooking you’re doing in your restaurant you may have one or multiple exhaust systems in your kitchen. Some kitchens have one for heat and grease generating appliances such as grills or fryers, and another for steam appliances like dishwashers and ovens. 

These exhaust systems are extremely powerful and due to the high volume of air they are removing, you need to think about replacing the air in your kitchen with fresh air. This is where makeup air units come in. Without them, your kitchen will be susceptible to unpleasant smells and even dangerous conditions. 

Prevent Odors

Correctly designed HVAC systems will move a portion of the replacement air being pulled in from the makeup air unit in your dining areas. This is preferable since it will keep kitchen odors out of the dining room. However, keep in mind that you don’t want too much air to blow into your dining room or it might become drafty. 

Provide Ventilation for Your Employees & Customers

If you don’t have enough supply air coming into your kitchen and restaurant, the air quality will suffer. Having adequate ventilation and air exchange is important because it helps to prevent harboring bacteria, mold, and viruses that can cause disease from forming in your restaurant.

Here are some signs that you need a makeup air unit for your kitchen.

Negative Air Pressure

Air balance issues can create a variety of annoying issues in your restaurant that may include drafts, difficult to open doors, or even doors that slam shut. This is because in a negative air pressure system the air will find its way into any available space. You might notice cross drafts that make the building uncomfortable for diners and staff. Dust might blow throughout the space, and you might even hear whining, whistling, or rattling sounds. 

Back Drafting

Your commercial kitchen has been designed to vent out dangerous fumes such as carbon monoxide. If there is a negative air pressure situation with backdrafts the fumes that should be moved outside may be moving back into your dining room and kitchen. This means everyone inside is at risk for breathing in harmful substances.

Poorly Performing Exhaust Hoods

Without a makeup air unit in your kitchen, your exhaust hoods won’t be able to do their job as well. This is due to the lack of supply air which causes an increase in static pressure that lowers the cubic feet per minute of air the equipment is able to remove from your kitchen.

Air Quality Issues

Issues with air quality should not be taken lightly since they can impact the health and safety of your employees and guests. The smoke and VOCs given off by cooking appliances can cause air quality concerns in your kitchen when they are not vented properly which can lead to respiratory problems for those who spend a lot of time in your kitchen.

Excess Grease

If your restaurant exhaust doesn’t work well, you’ll likely notice more grease building up on the various surfaces of your kitchen, which means you and your staff will have to spend more time cleaning them.

HVAC Problems

If the building’s chimneys are not drafting properly, it’s possible to experience issues with heating systems, such as pilot lights extinguishing or damage to stacks and heat exchangers.

High Energy Bills

If your restaurant is lacking replacement air, you’ll end up with unbalanced heating and cooling conditions, which will likely cause you to have higher energy bills.


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