Raised Floor Care Standards: Maintaining the Integrity and Appearance of Raised Floor Systems
Despite this modern era in which equipment and technology is ever-changing, the standards for raised floor care have remained the same. Proper maintenance of raised floor systems includes structural and environmental care, including proper cleaning, avoiding contamination and replacing raised floor tiles as they become worn out.
Regular maintenance is essential to maximize your investment in you computer raised floor, and it addresses many issues that lead to deterioration of both the raised floor and the delicate equipment it protects. Here are some important points to remember:
- A wax build-up on your raised floor tiles wil inhibit static dissipation.
- Dust and dirt are abrasive to the floor surface and harm sensitive equipment.
- Accumulated contaminants like concrete dust, sand and carbon particles can easily get swept up and carried into the equipment by your underfloor air system.
- Loose edge trim or a rocking raised floor tile is a serious trip hazard, and also leads to reduced stability of the system as a whole.
Caring for Raised Floor Tiles
One of the most obvious areas you should maintain is the raised floor tiles themselves. This includes replacing broken edge trim and warped panels, as well as refurbishing delaminated tiles.
If you have a now obsolete system, it is still possible to order replacement panels that will not cause lateral shifting in the grid. There are a few companies who can match your existing computer floor tiles and ship replacement components, or re-laminate damaged floor tiles.
Another important aspect of caring for your computer floor tiles is regular and proper cleaning. Access floors should never be waxed, and carpet panels should be vacuumed three times per week with a vacuum equipped with a static dissipating rod. High pressure laminate, which is often used near sensitive equipment due to its ability to dissipate static electricity, can lose these important properties if the surface is not clean.
Never apply wax to the surface of the raised floor system, as residual wax rapidly ages raised floor systems and must be removed. Commercial wax removers, though, will cause panels to delaminate, causing an even greater problem.
Improper maintenance of the subfloor may cause vertical instability and structural damage to other components. It may also block equipment cooling fans, create particulates that harm equipment or pose a fire hazard. Cleaning the underfloor is certainly not an enjoyable job, as the space is cramped, but it must be done.
Maintenance is made even more challenging because you should never remove more than two adjacent raised floor tiles at once, and there should always be four in place before you remove another two. Use a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter to ensure debris isn't blown back into the room.
Structural maintenance includes having your raised floor inspected once a year by a qualified Raised Floor Technician and rotating the computer floor tiles twice per year between the high and low traffic areas. The understructure should also be adjusted once a year to fix any structural problems and maintain manufacturer's specifications. Replacing damaged components like stringers, edge trim, pedestals and stringer gaskets is also important, as well as replacing or re-laminating damaged tiles to maintain the system's integrity.
One common structural problem is lateral instability, in which the floor system becomes unstable and loose with gaps between panels. This is often caused by missing edge trim, loose lateral braces, incorrect cutouts or leaving panels out, and it can cause serious structural damage, allows debris to fall into the underfloor space and reduces the plenum pressure from air conditioning.
Vertical instability, on the other hand, is when the floor panels rock and do not rest securely on the grid system, moving up and down when weight is applied. This structural issue is often caused by missing gaskets, stringers or pedestal pads, or allowing dirt or debris on the pedestals or grids or into the subfloor area. It may also be caused by warped floor tiles or swollen woodcore tiles, or by a tipped pedestal. This problem creates a serious trip hazard, while also causing debris to fall into the subfloor and circulate through the air conditioning with possible permanent damage to the panels.
As you can see, failing to properly maintain raised floor systems comes with serious consequences. While most raised floors are very durable, they must still be cared for with periodic cleaning of the floor surface and subfloor as well as necessary adjustments to the structure to maintain an ideal environment for both personnel and sensitive equipment.