Drop Ceilings: Potential Hazards

Drop ceilings are common sight in many residential and commercial properties. It may be used for a number of different reasons; to hide wires and piping, and to accommodate ventilation systems. However, dropped ceilings come with a number of potential hazards, which if ignored, can lead to disastrous consequences. Consider the following when installing and maintaining drop-out ceilings

A dropped ceiling can be classified as a secondary ceiling, built underneath the original ceiling, and are typically supported by a grid system, made from aluminium or steel. The grid system increases the structural integrity of the drop ceiling, but will have a hard time supporting any additional weight.  When installing, make sure the grid system is securely in place, and be cautious when adding any extra components, such as wires. Components that must be added within the drop ceiling should be planned accordingly, so no section on the grid is supporting excessive weight. If the grid cannot support the designated weight, then it will collapse, potentially injuring those underneath.

Water Hazards

Another potential cause for collapse is water damage sustained by the ceiling from leaks in the water ducts. Continued exposure to water will cause the ceiling to rot, eventually resulting in the collapse of individual grid tiles, and potentially the whole structure.

Electrical Hazards

Due to the fact that ceilings often contain vast amounts of electrical wiring, caution is advised when performing maintenance or check-ups. Exposed live electrical wiring presents a real risk and should be assessed before conducting anything. Older buildings might possess faulty wiring and unused wires still connected to the power. Properties might also be at risk from previous work that was faulty, and thus now presents a real problem.  It is best to leave any electrical wiring to professionals, as the potential for injury is very high.

Drop ceilings also have the potential to increase the potential danger of fires from faulty electrical wires. Fires starting in the ceiling can be insulated for a significant period of time before finally reaching occupants below.  To reduce the risk of fires starting in the ceiling, make sure to only place low voltage wires in the ceiling.

Pest Infestations

Dropped ceilings also facilitate the breeding, and consequent infestation of pests and vermin. The environment provided by a dropped ceiling is particularly enticing for rats and mice, which enjoy the insulation provided from the ceiling. If left untreated, infestations can grow out of hand, the potential to contract disease is greatly increased, and faeces from pests and vermin will fall to the floor.

In Summary

While there are a number of significant risks associated with dropped ceilings. It is largely only in older properties that these problems reside, and can largely be alleviated through either maintenance or renovation. Risk assessments should be conducted before, during, and after the development of dropped ceilings.