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Testing the Seal of Concrete in Data Centers

Is Your Data Center Concrete Subfloor Properly Sealed?

Unsealed concrete is a serious source of contamination in computer rooms. Once airborne, concrete dust consisting of calcium, silica and other by-products, create a variety of hazards to sensitive equipment, facilities and people. Concrete dust is highly abrasive and when mixed with water (humidity) is highly corrosive. Therefore, sealing the subfloor should be standard practice in any mission critical environment.

The purpose of sealing the concrete subfloor in a critical environment like a data center is to eliminate the erosion and oxidation of the concrete. High velocity airflow from computer room air conditioning (CRAC/ CRAH) equipment only acerbates the problem and  increases the amount of airborne concrete dust.

Determine if Your Data Center
Concrete Floor is Sealed Properly

How do you know if the concrete subfloor is sealed and sealed adequately? First step is a simple inspection of the subfloor. The surface should have a sheen and appear smooth. Next, use a microfiber wipe to clean a small patch of floor. Now run your fingers over the area. Unsealed concrete will still feel rough and produce a residue of dust.  Little or no dust will be observed if a sealant has been used.

However, even if the concrete has been treated, the seal may not be adequate. This can be the case if the sealant was improperly applied or applied before the concrete was cured. In some cases, the sealant used during data center construction is actually a curing agent that hardens and improves the finished surface but does not adequately seal the surface.

To test the efficacy of the subfloor seal, the most reliable method is the acid test.

Using appropriate gloves, eyewear and other personal protection, place a few drops of muriatic acid directly on the concrete. If the acid rests on the surface without any reaction, the seal is in good condition. However, if the acid bubbles or fizzes this is an indication that the concrete seal is inadequate to protect your sensitive equipment. Caution: do not use more than a few drops, avoid breathing the vapor produced and wipe up the remaining acid and dispose of properly.

The best time to seal the concrete slab is before any access flooring or other mechanicals are installed. However, it is also possible to apply a high-quality sealant in an active data center. Data Clean has the proper products, tools and training to do the job without disruption to data center operations. Contact a Data Clean Account Manager for more information.

Data Clean Corporation offers concrete sealing for controlled environments. Contact your local Data Clean account manager for more information.

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