A Guide To Data Center Cleaning

by | Jan 8, 2022

A guide to data center cleaning is essential because it is considered vital maintenance as recommended by computer hardware manufacturers and industry associations like ASHRAE. In addition, data center cleaning is crucial because it improves the reliability of computer servers. Removing built-up dust contamination through routine cleaning prevents potential downtime. Experts recommend data center cleaning to enhance equipment reliability and avoid unwanted disruptions.

Contamination sources and effects

Hidden contamination is often overlooked and builds up over time in data centers. If left unchecked, contamination can cause servers to fail. This type of disruption can result in lost revenues and unnecessary expenses.

Contamination sources include fine dust, fibers, and ferrous metal that naturally accumulate inside data centers. However, these contaminants are often overlooked because they are hidden under raised floors. As a result, contamination builds over time and may migrate inside servers through the cooling system. Effects of contamination on servers include thermal failure, short circuits, and inter-connect failures.

Prevention and control of contamination

Planned maintenance cleanings can prevent and control contamination buildup to avoid risks to equipment. In addition, routine cleaning can remove harmful particulates and avoid migration into equipment. As a result, a regular cleaning program is considered essential maintenance.

Industry standards and recommendations

Data center cleaning standards recommend cleaning the subfloor, raised floor, equipment, and monitoring contamination. First, subfloors should be cleaned at least once per year to minimize risks. Next, Raised floors should be thoroughly cleaned at least four times per year to restore and prolong life. Finally, equipment should also be cleaned at least four times per year to remove contaminants. Airborne particle counts should also be taken at least once per year during the subfloor cleaning.

What to look for in a vendor

Use qualified vendors with trained employees. Get customer references from other data centers to confirm their experience and quality of work. Look for industry certifications like ADCCP or an equivalent organization that meets ASHRAE guidelines. Ensure they use the proper equipment like cleanroom ULPA-filtered vacuums to ensure quality. Also, look for vendors with scheduling flexibility and coverage that meet your needs.

Case study

A large data center experienced downtime due to a contamination-related event. Contamination was generated from a misaligned belt assembly in an air handler that supplied cooling to the server room. The issue went unnoticed because small particles accumulated over time in hidden areas under the floor and inside servers. This resulted in several days of downtime and business interruption with thousands of dollars in lost revenue and avoidable expenses. Instead of preventing this incident with routine cleaning, the company spent several weeks removing contamination from the subfloor and internal server components.

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