According to a recent report in the Chicago Tribune, METRA, the South Shore Line, O’Hare International Airport, and other “people moving” organizations are preparing for another record-breaking cold winter in Illinois. Last year, what was called the polar vortex, gripped the state for two days. Temperatures dropped to minus 23 degrees in certain areas.
While no one is officially predicting another polar vortex, the fact that winter has arrived so soon this year is causing some concern. For facility managers, one of their key concerns every winter, but especially if we have an extreme cold snap, is their facility’s floors.
Ice, snow, moisture, mud, and ice melts can play havoc on building floors. If facility managers are not prepared, this “havoc” can even damage the floors, which in many cases can be costly.
Fortunately, there are several things they can do to not only protect their floors, but also ensure building user safety as well. Here are some steps we suggest:
Build up the Floor’s Finish Early Many managers believe the purpose of a floor finish is to add a shine to the floor. While a high-quality, high-gloss finish certainly will produce a shine, the real purpose of the floor finish is to protect the floor. View the finish as a thin piece of glass placed over the floor. By building up this thin piece of glass before winter arrives and keeping it clean, we can help prevent damage to the floor.
Think Outside the Box Managers should determine where most of the soil entering the facility is coming from. Is it from the parking lot? The sidewalk? Where is ice melt placed? Typically, it gets tracked into buildings as people walk through parking lots, garages, sidewalks, and walkways. Maintenance crews should be sure these areas are as clean as possible during the winter months. Applying ice melt is usually a necessity, but it can do serious damage to a floor’s finish. However, placing floor mats, which we will discuss next, is one of the best ways of preventing ice melt from attacking your floors.
Install Entry Mats
High-quality floor mats should be installed at all building entries. Along with high-quality mats, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the length of the mat is key to its effectiveness. For instance, they report:
· Five feet of matting captures 33 percent of debris entering a facility · Ten feet of matting captures 52 percent · Twenty feet captures 86 percent · Twenty-five feet captures 100 percent
We recommend that our clients install at least 15 feet to 20 feet of matting at key building entries.
Winter Floor Maintenance
With these steps in place, the most effective ways to protect building floors during the winter months is with proper and effective floor maintenance. We suggest developing a winter floor maintenance program that includes the following:
Routine maintenance. Most facilities have entry floors such as lobbies “patrolled” during the day, to clean up spills and debris, and thoroughly cleaned and mopped at night. This routine should be expanded during the winter months, especially during adverse weather. Cleaning the lobby floor two or three times during the course of the day, may be necessary.
Interim maintenance. This is also referred to as partial restorative care. There are different ways to do this, but in a larger floor area, it calls for the use of auto scrubbers. Just as the name implies, these machines scrub the floor automatically as they are walked over the floor. Soils, cleaning solutions, and moisture are vacuumed up by the machine in the process. This step removes larger debris and soils that can harm the floor’s finish, and with it, the floor below.
Restoration. The process involves stripping all the finish off a floor, rinsing the floor, and then applying three or more thin coats of finish to the floor. If all the steps we just mentioned above have been implemented, we may be able to delay refinishing cycles throughout the winter months. This is important for a variety of reasons. It is labor-intensive, which means it can be costly. Further, while we use green-certified cleaning solutions, these products are still powerful and must be used carefully. We should add that floor restoration can also be disruptive to the building.
However, if it must be performed, make sure your cleaning contractors are skilled at refinishing floors and use only high-quality cleaning solutions. Performed correctly and with the right products, the floor will be protected from staining and discoloration, the shine will be protected, and the high-gloss shine will be maintained.
When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, Secure Clean Building Services provides peace of mind. Give us a call at 888-609-1410 or send us an email at email@example.com