Linen chutes are classified as gravity chutes because they are non-mechanical, relying on basic physics to move the load to a lower floor. The main vertical chute is either round or rectangular, traversing several floors.
Building codes and compliance are the top considerations for new laundry chute construction. Proper installation demands mechanisms are in place for the safety of the building and its occupants.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has strict guidelines about linen chute equipment. The governing codes in NFPA 82 include section 11.2.2, which states “Waste and linen chutes and transport systems including chute intake and discharge doors, shall be inspected and maintained not less than annually in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.”
Fire suppression devices are important features as fire can travel and spread quickly through open conduits such as chutes. The first safety device is a sliding closure at the bottom level. Normally in the open position, it is held in place by a pin assembly that discharges under high heat. This automatically closes the shaft to prevent air, smoke, and fire from spreading rapidly if the laundry room is the point of origin.
Laundry chutes are accessed at each upper floor through hinged metal doors. These doors are typically fire-rated at 90-120 minutes, depending on local codes. They may have other fire suppression features, such as sprinklers at each floor level.
Chutes also have child-safe latches to prevent accidental opening. Doors are self-closing and openings are commonly limited to 18”. All door heights and hardware must be ADA compliant.
Clearly the maintenance and inspection of linen chute systems are important. If you have maintenance questions, repair needs, or concerns about compliance inspections, a good place to start is your facility services team. They may provide this service or can refer you to a reliable source.
Regular cleaning of linen chutes is also essential to maintain hygiene and a good working condition. Even if your system has an internal self-cleaning function, the exterior doors, hardware, and hopper require supplemental cleaning to stop contamination and prevent corrosion.
Linen chutes may appear similar to ventilation shafts but they are typically made of a thicker gauge sheet metal to withstand the weight of heavy linen, which may also be wet. There are other structural elements to account for the heavy load, such as deceleration tracks, braces, and reinforcement at impact points.
Constructed of stainless steel or aluminized steel, long shafts are welded together. The interiors are smooth and fitted to prevent damage to falling linen. Noise dampeners are also employed to reduce banging and ringing sounds. Rooftop exhaust ports are also essential.