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Data Halls and Computer Rooms

Banks, Building Societies and Telecommunications companies are all organisations that require large Data Halls and Computer Rooms for their data handling equipment. The equipment going into their rooms is getting heavier and requires ever greater cooling. This equipment is supported by Raised Access Floors and the cavity beneath the floor is not only used for cabling but is also used as an air plenum for the supply of the air conditioning.

Because it is often impossible to close down existing Data Halls rooms the floor cannot be completely replaced in one go as its Service Life nears it end. This poses several problems both for existing and even new Data Halls and Computer Rooms. Many floors installed in the 1980’s are now showing their age and need replacing. However, it is often impossible to change the floor piecemeal especially the pedestals because of the amount of cables in the floor cavity. More often than not only the panels can be changed. Ideally panels should be replaced like for like but there are no companies today making the same products as those used in the 1980’s. This causes problems because the floor then becomes a hybrid system and its structural performance is in question.

With new rooms any floor has to have a minimum 25 years service life and be able to withstand heavy equipment and provide a high enough cavity to accommodate the extra air conditioning required. Floors around 1m high are now common.

It is because of these onerous requirements that specifiers are requiring that floors in new Data Halls and Computer Rooms at least comply with the PSA MOB PF2 PS/SPU Heavy Grade performance requirements and more often than not the Extra Heavy Grade requirements. As the durability of the floor also is of concern extra tests, such as the Rolling Load test are also needed.

Testing and durability service life and future requirements

Raised Access Floors for Data Halls and Computer Rooms cannot easily be replaced . Therefore, any new or partial replacement floor has to have a service life of at least 25 years and in some cases 50 years.

To guarantee good durability BITS carry out evaluation load tests on Heavy and Extra Heavy Grade PSA floor systems before they are installed. This testing is especially important for floors where only the panels are being replaced. The testing covers structural performance and durability tests such as the Rolling Load test. It is also essential that any testing is carried out by a reputable organisation.

Because the equipment in these rooms requires ever greater cooling BITS also offers an Air Leakage Testing service whereby we can measure and detect the air leakage from both the floor cavity and the floor panels themselves.

It is likely that the equipment used in Data Halls and Computer Rooms will become smaller and heavier. This poses problems in both moving the equipment to its installation position and in supporting it when in position. In the past floors were often over designed, but with ever greater competition between manufacturers value engineering of floors has reduced their structural capacity to a minimum.

However, it is likely that the requirements for any floor will become more and more onerous over time. This will result in stronger and more durable floor systems being required in the future.

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Building Investigation and Testing Services (Surrey) Ltd
Quarryside Business Park
Holmethorpe Industrial Estate
Watercolor, Thornton Side
Redhill, Surrey RH1 2LJ
Tel: +44 (0)1737 765432
Fax: +44 (0)1737 765431
Mob: +44 (0)7802 524667
e-mail: bitslab@btconnect.com

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