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At a local dairy processing plant, flooring issue surfaced. The grout that held the dairy brick floor together was starting to show signs of wear and deterioration, creating the perfect hiding place for colonies of E.coli, salmonella, and others. With USDA requirements more stringent than ever, a solution needed to be found, and fast. But what caused the grout and tile to break down in the first place? Now that a fair amount of grout has been chipped away, what can be done to make it right?
Grout is somewhat porous when it is new, but even more so as it is exposed to the harsh chemicals and sanitization agents used to clean the floors. Chloride and nitric-acid based sanitation agents, or chemicals containing hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, and other caustics can quickly break down grout.
The issue is further exacerbated by use of hot water in cleaning. Chemical cleaners are more corrosive at high temperatures than ambient temperatures.
When grout lines begin to fail, the overall bond of the tile becomes compromised. Though it still looks good on the surface, hollow areas develop between the substrate and the tile, allowing colonies of bacteria to form.
Tile can be re-grouted, but it’s a maintenance nightmare. Replacing grout is a messy process that requires special equipment, people qualified to do the work, plus a lot of downtime. But re-grouting is just a temporary fix. By this time, bacteria have already made its way underneath the tile, so re-grouting won’t clear up the sanitary issue.
The USDA has stringent requirements for flooring in food processing plants. The USDA requires that tile be in good repair, smooth, and impervious. With chemical attack, from both cleaning agents and possible corrosives from the process (such as lactic acid), it’s a losing battle for dairy brick.
As an alternative, we recommend an epoxy floor coating to our food processing customers. It keeps the USDA satisfied, because it’s seamless, easy to clean, and corrosion resistant. It also keeps OSHA satisfied with its non-slip properties.
Are you struggling with a dairy brick floor in disrepair? Ask us about it! We gladly provide technical assistance to businesses in Wisconsin and upper Michigan.