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For more info on squash court and graphite repairs then contact the experts:
Evan Y. Philip
P.O. Box 131185
Fax: 011 486-4108
Cell: 073 209-8017
Squash Court Maintenance
COURT HEATING AND VENTILATION
If high level vents have been installed on the play wall, it may be necessary to seal these. This will ensure that the air is drawn across the court from low to high level. Additional ventilation for the viewing gallery area should be installed, the size needed will relate to the volume of the gallery. Extractor fans, when fitted with a speed controller, will enable the fans to be run at low speed when the courts are not in use and manual control to a higher speed when they are in use. Fans should be allowed to run on for 20 minutes after the court has been used.
Where courts become excessively hot it may be necessary to install a larger fan. A speed controller will be required to reduce the extract rate in cold weather.
If there are any signs of mould growth inside the court, this may be the result of a water leakage through the outside structure. If mould appears internally in the corridor, spectator's gallery or changing room, and if a leak in the structure can be discounted, then these growths are usually the result of high humidity which may be caused by poor ventilation. Mould can also appear on an emulsion painted surface, where the paint has been applied to a structure which, although appearing dry on the surface, has not completely dried out. Mould growth is best dealt with by brushing down to remove the loose mould growth and then treating with a proprietary mould inhibitor fungicide or a diluted solution of household bleach, containing chloride. The surface should then be washed down with clear water and left to dry thoroughly.
Some courts have their own special problems which may be the result of their location or construction. If effective and efficient use is made of existing heating and ventilation systems, or consideration is given to installing such systems, it should be possible to minimise the risk of condensation.
HOW TO DEAL WITH SLIPPERLY SQUASH COURT FLOORS
The floor is one of the two principal playing surfaces in a squash court. To replace a squash court floor is expensive, both in terms of capital investment and lost revenue during the replacement period. It is, therefore, common sense and prudent to maintain and repair floors diligently and regularly. This paper refers to floors laid in maple, beech and MDF panels (painted). Other timber floors such as pine boards or herring bone fashion pine blocks are occasionally found, as are floors in plywood and composition materials are not generally considered suitable for squash court floors.
Beech strip flooring is widely used. Beech strips can be easily recognised as they are in double widths and regular lengths. This timber comes in strips of 3700mnm long, 129mm wide and 22mm deep.
Slippery floors are probably the most frequent cause for complaint by players. The problem usually arises from one or more of the following conditions, all of which can be overcome.
Visible (sweat) or invisible (condensation) moisture, which settles on the surface of the court floors, rather than being absorbed by the wood and with a small amount of dust from the breakdown of the ball can cause a dangerous loss of traction both to players' footing and the ball. Any moisture on the floors should be urgently investigated, especially if there is any possibility of penetration through the roof, walls or floors. Never spend money on the inside of a court until the external shell has been proved watertight. Remember that the environmental properties of a squash court and the surrounds can materially affect the likelihood of moisture problems. Moisture on the floor is frequently exacerbated by sealed floors.
Court floors should be UNSEALED to lessen the risk of slipperiness. Historically, floors were sealed because most courts were built detached from club houses and/or were unlikely to be regularly cleaned. Players would, as often as not, walk from the changing rooms to the courts across wet, muddy or dirty car parks in their playing shoes, thus transporting undesirable material onto the court.
Any sealant reduces porosity (the ability to absorb moisture rather than allowing it to gather on the surface) of timber; thus a sealed floor is inherently more prone to slipperiness than an unsealed one when affected by sweat or condensation.
Floor treatment should only be carried out by a flooring contractor who has the correct type of equipment and who has proven experience and competence in treating squash court floors.
6. TO SEAL OR NOT TO SEAL
IF THE FLOORS ARE NOT SEALED
• Greater ability to absorb moisture
• Reduction in risk of slipperiness
• Provision of lighter coloured surfaces
• Preferred by competitive players
IF FLOORS ARE SEALED
• Better ability to repel stains
• In certain circumstances it may be considered preferable to apply a sealant
e.g. where access from changing rooms to courts requires an out of door transit resulting in dirt/grit being carried into the court area.
IF IT IS DECIDED TO SEAL, THERE ARE IMPORTANT STEPS TO TAKE:
• Never seal an already sealed floor without sanding first
• Sand to clean white wood leaving a slight surface nap (60 grade grit has been found to be suitable)
• Leave no traces of paint, stain or dirt
• Clean the floor thoroughly, taking off all dust and dirt
• Check for raised nail heads, split boards and exposed tongues
Accumulated dust and dirt on the floor can lead to slippery condition. Regular cleaning of squash court floors is necessary to avoid this.
A Vee mop with a cotton/synthetic head on a wire frame with a flexible head pushed across the floor will create static which attracts the butyl-rubber dust from the floor, this method will be found to be more effective than sweeping with a soft broom.
In severe cases where dust has been allowed to build up, an industrial pattern vacuum cleaner should be used.
If there is a persistent problem with dust, a slightly damp towel will remove the majority of dust from the floor. The towel must not be made so wet that it leaves traces of moisture on the floor. It is also important to clean regularly the adjacent areas such as the galleries, lobbies and corridors. It is advisable to supply mats immediately outside the court doors, which will help prevent dust and dirt being carried or blown onto the court.
The floor is sanded by running the sanding machine along the length of the court. The surface should be left with a slight `nap'.
GUIDELINES FOR SAFETY ON SQUASH COURTS
Displayed in the Corridor
• First Aid Box (complying with Approved Code of Practice for First Aid at work) available in sight close to courts.
• A list of contacts for local doctors/dentists/hospitals/ambulance/qualified first aiders should be displayed.
Displayed on the Squash Court Door(s)
• A notice showing that only shoes designed for squash with non marking soles providing a good grip are permitted on court.
• Door viewer to court and notice `Do not open door before checking that the court is not in use, and knock before entry'.
• An internal flush door handle should be fitted.
• A check action door closer should be fitted.
• Door hinges should not protrude in front of the face of the door.
• Floor should be unsealed to provide a good shoe grip.
• Floor lines should be taped.
• Floors should be regularly checked for split boards and that all are level with no projecting screws or fixings. Repairs should be carried out immediately.
• Clean floor daily (minimum) with V mop to remove dust and thereby remove slipperiness.
• Clean to remove dirt and grease marks from ball, racket and body contact.
Glass Back Walls
• Glass back walls require frequent cleaning and the door latch and hinges should be regularly checked and maintained.
• At least once a year the glass back wall should be inspected by a qualified person to ensure that the fixings have not become loose, and if necessary, adjustments made.
• Lighting Clean and replace tubes at regular intervals to maintain 400 lux/1 m above floor over full court area.
• Ball guards for light fittings are available
• a 15°C +/-3°C recommended, to prevent possible condensation
• Ventilation access through the tin with the mechanical extractor fan sited at the rear of the court at high level to provide four air changes per hour.
Board and Tin
• The board at the top of the tin should have no projections. The tin, if metal, should be undamaged with no sharp edges. If of any other material, all fixings, screws should be countersunk.
SQUASH COURT LIGHTING
The Squash Court shall be lit by artificial light.
The basic requirement for court lighting is the provision of the following:
1. The recommended minimum standard of 400 lux when measured at 1000mm above the floor. The floor should have a minimum reflectance value of 50 +/-10%.
2. Light fittings able to withstand ball impact.
3. Lighting to be free of stroboscopic effects.
Natural lighting in the form of windows and/or roof lights is not acceptable.
Tungsten fittings in the form of a large diameter metal reflector with a screw in or bayonet pattern lamps are not recommended as being suitable for lighting a squash court. They also have the disadvantage of being expensive to run.
When it becomes necessary to replace lighting on squash courts with tungsten fittings or earlier pattern fluorescent fittings with bayonet type end caps, please note that these are now obsolete. It will therefore be necessary to install new fittings as described below.The majority of existing courts will have the conventional twin tube 1800mm long (6ft) fittings using the 38mm diameter Argon filled 75/85W tubes. Replacement tubes and fittings for this type are available. Later fittings use the Krypton filled 1800mm 70W tubes. Fluorescent halophosphate 50HZ tubes lose their efficiency on the basis of 2% - 6% reduction in light output for every 1000 hours they are in use. This coupled with inefficient cleaning can reduce the light level by as much as 25% over a period of time. For example, after 4000 hours the output may have reduced by up to 20%. Tubes failing during the first 100 hours (approx) of use should be replaced. It is essential to renew all the tubes when one or more fittings have a faulty tube. The life of a fluorescent tube is estimated to be approximately 6000 - 7000 hours. It will be evident that if a court is in use for 10 hours (approx) per day over a 2 year period, the tubes will be near the end of their useful life. It then becomes economic to replace the tube as the cost of the Replacement tube is less than the cost of the wasted energy. In order to provide a more efficient form of lighting combined with savings in running costs, typically 20% to 30%, consideration should be given to using high frequency lamps and control gear. This type of lighting works at 28000HZ (cycles per second) and completely eliminates the strobe effect. This type of fitting, when used in new projects, will comply with Building Regulation L.I, (energy saving only). For the standard layouts for court lighting please see the following pages. Using 6 twin 70W tri-phosphor 4000K lamps will achieve an average of 400 lux measured 1000mm above the floor. This figure is subject to the reflectance of the ceiling, walls and floor and a maintenance factor of 0.85 based on a white playing surface. Increasing the number of fittings from 2 to 3 parallel to the front wall will improve the lighting at high level at the front of the court. When a court has a height above (say) 7m, there is little light reflectance from the underside of the roof or ceiling. Additional lighting may be necessary to offset the dark void above the court as players would find it difficult to sight the ball against this dark background. Where coloured wall surfaces are used, the average lux will be reduced and an allowance, based on the reflectance value of the wall surfaces, may require an increase in the number of fittings to be used. Where enclosed surface mounted fittings are to be used, specify prismatic diffusers as these emit light in all directions. In order to provide even illumination to the side walls, open ended, angled reflectors should be used for the fittings parallel to the front wall and all reflectors should have slotted top sections to allow the light to reflect on to a light coloured ceiling finish. Light fittings which run parallel to the side walls give better illumination on the side walls than fittings which are set across the width of the court. It is advisable to have wire guards fitted to all fittings where the tubes are exposed. An alternative method of lighting a court where a suspended ceiling is installed consists of recessed type fittings with polycarbonate diffusers that project below the ceiling line with the light spreading from the side of the fitting on to the surrounding ceiling surface. As there will be a reduction in the output using this type of fitting, additional fittings will be required and you are advised to seek advice from the manufacturers. Where a glass back wall is used, with either fixed or removable seating, the lighting levels in these areas outside the court should be provided to the same standard as the courts. If the lighting is of a lower standard to the spectator side of the glass wall, the back wall will act as a mirror for the players. For this reason, the walls and ceiling surfaces outside the court should be painted a light colour. The floor surface for a distance of 900mm behind the glass back wall should be the same colour or lighter than the floor of the court. The provision of a suitable dimmer switch on the light fittings in the spectator areas will allow the lighting to be reduced, but care should be taken not to allow the glass wall, when viewed from inside the court, to act as a mirror. All types of light fittings require regular cleaning to remove the build up of dust and dirt, which are inevitable in a squash court. Changing tubes and cleaning fittings is a task that should be carried out on a regular basis. If fittings have been in use for some considerable time and faults occur, e.g. The fittings become noisy, then consideration should be given to replacing the complete fitting/s.