Office buildings, command centers, computer rooms and information technology data centers all have raised floors to enable technicians to direct mechanical services, cables, wiring, and the electricity supply through it to certain points on the floor.
The floor is elevated above the concrete slab of the building and provides the area where all of the cabling can be hidden, but where easy access can still be ensured. The height of the flooring depends on the needs of the type of service to be provided but may vary from 2 inches to 4 feet. If the space is big enough for a person to be able to crawl in, then lighting has to also be installed.
This void is often also used to distribute cool or warm air to the building, something that became popular in Europe in the 1970s and has now become popular in the U.S. This cool air can be directed onto the computer system through perforated tiles; the air conditioning unit draws warmer air from the room and returns again once cools and vice versa.
How is a raised access computer floor built?
A gridded metal substructure is built with adjustable- height supports or pedestals, which then have floor panels fitted into them. These floor panels can be lifted to provide access to the cabling that is laid below. The height of the structure is determined by the space needed below.
The panels are usually made from hardy materials like steel-clad particleboard or steel panels with a cement-like internal core. These panels can be covered in a variety of flooring finishes to match the rest of the space. These finishes include carpet, marble, stone, laminates and there are even finishes that can be used in laboratories and computer rooms which are anti static.
Bare application tiles are more economical and are sealed or stained to look like tiles.
Where can raised computer access floors be used?
Computer rooms, where the cabling is concealed while the air cooling system can work more effectively nearly always have raised computer flooring. The installation of protection from under floor fires is required, and fire alarms and suppression systems are important.
Office buildings facilitate the cabling needs of companies with raised access flooring and under floor air. Under floor air also brings down the building costs because the handlers are smaller. In addition, building costs are also minimized when a combination of modular walls and access floors are built because they require less time to reconfigure, even during renovations.
Residential use is now also becoming popular especially in high rise apartments.
Benefits of raised access computer floors
Firstly, raised flooring allows companies to make changes to their office needs without actually offering any bothersome structural limitations. They can also make upgrades and add new cabling as new equipment or technology is introduced.
Raised floor systems are waterproofed to prevent any damage to cabling from leaks.
They reduce construction costs in areas with high seismic activity and in high wind areas because they improve the lateral resistance and durability of high-rise buildings, especially when combined with a concrete roofing system.
They allow for easy maintenance, repairs and inspections while some builders also run the plumbing in the raised floor.
Finally, these types of floor systems suppress fire from floor to floor and can also offer acoustic isolation.
Preventing raised access computer floor problems
Raised floor systems need regular inspections to help prevent any structural problems which can include rocking panels or gaps between the panels. This can occur because of the weight of the equipment or because of an installation that wasn’t professionally done.
The subfloor must be properly cleared of debris before installation and it should be level.
Problems can also result if the space below collects fluff and dust. These can often trigger false smoke alarms. Unfortunately, due to the weight of the equipment above, in some situations, cleaning may not be easy.
Therefore, raised floors need commitment to regular cleaning wherever and whenever possible and old unused cabling should be extracted as it blocks the airflow. This should be undertaken by special services.
Raised access computer flooring offers flexibility and efficiency for potential occupants who can also opt to change the finishing suiting their needs.