While temps across the country are dropping now that it’s Fall, some vendors still have hot food truck kitchens and don’t know why or how to correct the problem. Today we provide a troubleshooting guide for those vendors. So why do you have a hot food truck kitchen? Let’s find out…
Troubleshooting Hot Food Truck Kitchens
Worn, broken or loose belts are the most common cause of hot food truck kitchens. A worn and cracked belt will slip on the pulleys causing poor suction of the heat exhaust system resulting in a hot truck. If a belt is worn or cracked, replace it immediately.
Similar to the belts; pulleys can cause hot food truck kitchens. When pulleys are out of alignment, your belts wear and loosen thus the hood doesn’t properly exhaust the air. Be sure the belt drive pulleys are not slipping on the drive shaft. If they are, check that the pulley set screw is tight.
Many food trucks have auxiliary fans to cool their trucks but these fans can disrupt the natural rising hot air plume of the cooking equipment and disrupt the draw of the exhaust fan. These fans will also make the kitchen hotter by blowing the heat generated by cooking equipment away from the exhaust fan and back into the truck.
Turn off these fans to check to see if the interior temps drop when the exhaust system is allowed to operate as designed.
Be sure the air passage between the filters is clear of grease. Improper or infrequent filter cleaning may lead to grease and carbon deposits. Hot air must be able to pass through the grease baffles and built up grease between the filter baffles can severely restrict the airflow. This restriction can severely impede the hot air exhaust capabilities of your food truck.
RELATED: DIY Food Truck Exhaust Hood Cleaning
In basic terms; air out at the hood equals air in from the door & windows if it doesn’t, you will need make-up air fans placed adjacent to the hoods to provide the exhaust system with enough air to operate properly.
Apart from a broken fan belt, problems with the make-up air are the next common cause of hot food truck kitchens. Things to check include: The belt on the make-up air is broken, the make-up air filters need to be changed, or there is inadequate make-up air.
There are simple ways to test if make-up air is inadequate. If there is a rush of air into the truck each time a door or the service window is opened it means more air is being sucked out that is being brought back into the truck. This means the exhaust fan is creating negative pressure. If this is the case, contact your food truck builder to get a company that specializes in air balancing to resolve the problem.
220 volt motors operate both clockwise and counter-clockwise. If the hot wires are installed improperly the motor will run in the reverse direction, thus pushing air in instead of pulling air out of your food truck. If the fan is spinning in the wrong direction, shut the power off at the breaker box and switch the wiring to the proper way. This typically happens with new exhaust fans have been recently changed.
The final area to examine in hot food truck kitchens is your cooking equipment. Each piece of cooking equipment in your food truck has varying sizes of hot air exhaust plumes. Be sure the cooking equipment with the largest heat plume is placed in the center of the hood. Also, be sure that the front edge of the hood sits at least 6-12 inches from the front edge of the equipment.
The Bottom Line
Food truck kitchens are notorious heat traps. Temperatures in front of a busy grill can top well over 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Use these tips to make sure your food truck kitchen is as cool as it can be.