In addition to water damage, floors can take a beating from salt and ice melt products used during the snowy season.

“In the wintertime, floor finish can get destroyed by the salt and ice melt,” notes Spencer. “I don’t recommend stripping floors in the winter because any finish you put down that’s immediately exposed to bad weather is going to experience more problems.”

To avoid the white, chalky residue left on floors by ice melt products, Spencer recommends using a neutral cleaner.

“A lot of people use alkaline cleaners because they break down soil better,” says Spencer. “But in the wintertime, a neutral cleaner will help to neutralize the heavy alkaline in ice melt. If you use an alkaline cleaner on an alkaline soil, it tends to leave a film.”

Custodians should also use water to regularly flush out salt, ice melt, and any other soils that are tracked onto flooring.

“It’s not so much about using chemistry as it is about eliminating the moisture coming in from outside,” says Hulin. “It’s about using lots of water and flushing the soil off the floor.”

Safety hazards also increase exponentially in icy or snowy conditions.

“You have to really be aware of people coming into your building, and the likelihood of slip and fall accidents,” advises Hulin. “The only thing you can do to create a safer environment is to remove moisture as it gets to the floor.”

While snow and ice are often synonymous with slippery surfaces, safety concerns can also arise in dry, sunny climes.

“If you’re in areas like Arizona, New Mexico or Southern California, your concern is sand and dust,” notes Brent Johnson, chief auditor for Traction Auditing, Southlake, Texas. “Depending on the floor surface, those can become very slippery and cause as big a problem as a wet floor can.”

Dry sand can also be abrasive on floors and act like sandpaper when brought in on someone’s shoes.

“Arizona doesn’t have snow and ice, but it does have sand, and that sand damages your finishes, and the longevity of those finishes, more than ice and snow,” says Spencer. In addition to preventing sand from entering the building in the first place, he recommends using a neutral cleaner that won’t attack the floor finish.

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