Three small words can create a facility manager’s worst nightmare during the winter: snow, sand and salt. Applied on outdoor walkways to protect people from snow and ice, salt and sand does just the opposite to floor surfaces. If tracked through the building, these materials can drive labor and floor care costs upward and ultimately reduce the longevity of floors. However, a few practical steps can keep harmful cold weather contaminants from wreaking havoc on floors.
Matting and moisture control
When customers and employees walk into a facility, their shoes carry in snow, which can melt into puddles. This increases the risk of potential slips, falls and damage to floor surfaces. Implementing a matting program helps prevent water from accumulating around entryways.
Place a scraping mat either outside the building or in an inner foyer, allowing patrons to dislodge material from their shoes. Next, place an absorbent mat inside the building to help absorb additional water. Guests should walk at least six to ten steps on the mat before reaching the exposed floor surface. Look for matting with a rubber backing to prevent the mat from slipping across the floor. Regularly extract water from matting with a wet/dry vacuum to remove excess moisture.
Sand, salt and asphalt
Some of the biggest challenges facility managers face during the winter months are sand and salt. Used to prevent outdoor slips and falls, these de-icing materials can erode floor finishes and surfaces when tracked inside the building. While a proper matting system will help prevent sand and salt from entering the facility and protect much of the floor against potential damage, facility managers should also regularly clean and buff floors. When rock salt is tracked inside, it can also cause excess water to pool and may melt through the floor wax.
Asphalt is another variable that can ruin floors during winter months. When roads and driveways are plowed, pieces of the asphalt can break off. These particles can become lodged in shoe soles and tracked inside. Employees should regularly use a wet/dry vacuum for large particles that may not be removed by mopping.
Developing an effective program to limit winter floor damage.
Follow these practical tips:
- Stock up on essentials. The key to a great-looking entryway in the winter is to remove the soil load before it gets into the facility and spreads. Establish a station near the entryway that includes all maintenance materials, like neutralizer conditioners, all-purpose cleaners, mops, buckets, wet/dry vacuums and an extractor for matting. Maintain an adequate supply of chemicals for removing contaminants and cleaning floors.
- Communicate with signage. Always have wet floor signs readily available. Place signs around the entrance and along heavy-traffic areas, using them to create a perimeter area to advise people to take caution when necessary.
- Replace matting frequently. During times of heavy snowfall, a good rule of thumb is to change out mats every four hours. Make sure dry absorbent mats are placed on floors in the morning, before lunchtime and before the end of the day.
- Cooperation is key. Although facility managers often aren’t responsible for snow removal, they should communicate with partners that maintain outside areas. If possible, arrange a meeting with building administrators and snow removal teams to establish how often snow needs to be removed. When the snow melts, make sure exterior sidewalks are swept to keep any remaining sand and grit outside the building.
With a good matting system and a well-planned entryway maintenance program, facility managers can reduce the negative effects of winter on a facility’s floors. The right mix of equipment, procedures and chemical is sure to aid in a welcoming first impression even when inclement weather strikes.
To learn more about Diversey’s floor care solutions, visit our Floor Care page.