Certified Exhaust System Inspector (CESI)

The Certified Exhaust System Inspector (CESI) is designed primarily for field inspectors whose job it is to investigate and report on the cleanliness condition of commercial cooking and ventilating systems. The exam is designed to test and certify individuals who demonstrate their qualifications to provide professional inspection services by passing a written examination. The field of kitchen exhaust system inspection requires that an individual be competent in three main tasks:

  • System Assessment – the act of determining the type of system in a facility, identifying components, and producing a system diagram.
  • Cleanliness Inspection – the act of determining the level of cleanliness of the system
  • Conclusions/Recommendations – the act of providing guidance and information to the customer regarding future maintenance of the system.

Each of these tasks are broken down into several sub-tasks and knowledge areas that a competent inspector must understand. Further details regarding the tasks and sub-tasks are discussed in the CESI study guide. The CESI examination includes questions prepared to test candidates’ knowledge of all three main tasks and their sub-tasks.

An individual who passes the CESI exam shall be designated as a “Certified Exhaust System Inspector (CESI).” Certification is for the individual only. IKECA’s program for Certified Exhaust System Inspectors is not designed to provide a company certification.

Description Of The Examination

  • Multiple choice, written exam
  • 95 questions in length
  • Two (2) hours to complete exam
  • Applicant must sign Exam Affidavit Form and agree to Exam Code of Conduct

Exam Content

Exam Preparation

NFPA Free Access Widget

A CESI Study guide, containing the codes and standards can be purchased on IKECA’s online store.

The CESI Examination Quizlet is an excellent study tool that will help you grasp key terms and definitions in preparation for the CESI examination. Quizlet is free and offers a variety of interactive study methods including flashcards, multiple choice tests, listen and type questions and even games! The quiz tool also keeps record of terms that are missed to help you strengthen your knowledge base.  

You can also find more ways to prepare for the examination in the CESI Handbook.

Exam Scoring and the Pass-Fail Score

Candidates will receive their grade by mail 10-15 business days after the examination has been returned to the IKECA office. Grades can only be disclosed to or discussed with the candidate.

The pass-fail score for the CESI exam is 75%. In other words, you must answer a minimum of 71 out of 95 questions correctly in order to pass the exam. A candidate’s score is based on the number of correct responses. Each question receives credit if answered correctly and no credit if incorrect or omitted. Therefore, you should answer each question, even if you must guess. If a candidate marks more than one response for a question, that question will be marked incorrect.

If a Candidate fails an IKECA exam on their first attempt, the individual may make a maximum of two additional attempts. A waiting period of sixty (60) days applies between each attempt, based on the date of the prior attempt. All attempts must be completed within one (1) year from the original exam date. The fee for each retake exam is $100.00 in addition to any required processing/shipping fees.

Score Report

Within approximately two or three weeks of taking your test, you will receive a letter that will indicate whether you passed or failed the exam. If you passed, your letter will be followed by a certificate from IKECA and an ID card.

In accordance with IKECA’s privacy policy and in observance of best practices relating to certification, IKECA will mail original Certification Certificates and ID cards to the attention of the Certificate Holder at their address of record. It is the sole responsibility of the Certificate Holder to provide proof of their credential to their employer of record as necessary. This applies to certificates and ID cards initially issued upon successful completion of the certification exam and those issued upon subsequent certification renewals. For this reason, it is imperative that the Certificate Holder informs IKECA of any change of Employer, address and/or contact information as soon as possible. In the event that the candidate requires a duplicate certificate or ID card to be sent directly to their employer of record, the candidate must complete and submit, with applicable additional payment, a Certificate and/or ID Card Replacement Request form with their initial exam application or renewal requirements.

Length of Certification and Renewal
The renewal date of your certification is based on when the exam was taken. Please see the renewal page for more details.

CESI Study Guide

The CESI Study Guide, containing all of the below standards can be purchased on IKECA’s online store.

NFPA 96 2011 Edition – Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations

2007 ASHRAE HVAC Standard – Chapter 31, Kitchen Ventilation

OSHA Ladder Safety
Ref: 29 CFR 1926.1053 (a)
Ref: 29 CFR 1926.1053 (b)

International Mechanical Code (2006)
202 Commercial Food Heat-Processing Appliances
506 Commercial Kitchen Grease Ducts and Exhaust Equipment
507 Commercial Kitchen Hoods
508 Commercial Kitchen Make Up Air
509 Fire Suppression Systems

917 (Solid Fuel) Cooking AppliancesInternational Fire Code (2006)
904 Alternative Automatic Fire-Extinguishing Systems, including:
904.2.1 Hood suppression systems
904.3.2 Actuation
904.3.3 System interlocking
904.3.5 Monitoring
904.11 Commercial cooking systems
904.11 thru 904.11.6.5 apply to commercial cooking systems