Data Center Raised Floor Maintenance and Care

Data center raised floor maintenance is important because businesses rely on them for critical information. Failure to maintain these important facilities can cause computer servers to experience unplanned disruption or downtime. These interruptions can cost companies valuable time, money, and resources. Therefore, preventative maintenance is an important function. One of the areas that require attention is the data center’s raised floor system. 

Data centers require a raised access floor system to keep computer servers cool while hiding data and power cabling. Protecting the raised floor system helps ensure a safe work environment, reduces the risk of downtime, and extends the data center’s lifecycle. Cleaning above and below the raised floor is essential in keeping servers running without disruption from dust and debris. This guide will provide the information you need for proper raised floor maintenance.

Structural Maintenance

Schedule Annual Service

Have your data center’s raised flooring serviced by a professional maintenance company once a year. They can help to evaluate and correct any structural problems.

Rotate Panels

Rotate panels at least twice a year between high and low traffic areas to reduce wear and tear and lengthen the time before replacements. 

Replace Damaged Panels

Replace damaged panels that are warped, delaminated, or showing clear signs of wear and tear immediately. 

Replace Components

Any components such as pedestals, stringers, gaskets, or panel edge trim should be replaced to protect the structure and integrity of the data center’s raised floors and equipment. 

Environmental Maintenance

Environmental maintenance is ensuring the data center has the optimal operating environment. Data servers deliver a lot of heat output, and you want to keep the room at an ideal temperature to prevent overheating. Keep temperatures and humidity at recommended levels by the manufacturers of the equipment.

Raised Floor Cleaning

Raised data center floors are built with enough space to allow a healthy air flow and circulation. If left without regular cleaning, contaminants can be drawn to many highly sensitive equipment installed. The raised floor should be cleaned at least once a week. Follow these recommendations to ensure you are properly following maintenance and care for your raised floor data centers:

Starting At The Top

Start cleaning server racks before cleaning the flooring and work your way down. If you start at the bottom, debris from the top may fall to the clean floors. Again, it’s essential only to use equipment and cleaning solutions approved in the data center.

Vacuuming Floor Surfaces

You want to be sure to vacuum the floors daily to remove loose particles before you mop. Use a clean room-rated vacuum cleaner with a ULPA filtration system. ULPA filtration vacuums capture dust and debris as small as  0.12 microns with an efficiency of 99.99%. You should never use vacuums not rated for clean room areas like data centers, as they can suspend more particles, allowing them to settle on other parts of the floor. These particles can also migrate into servers over time. 

Mopping Floor Surfaces

Use a damp mop with warm water and an approved data center cleaning solution that does not contain ammonia. Be sure to remove any excess water to avoid weakening the adhesives or causing de-lamination of access floor panels. Never use a dry mop, as this can kick around debris without actually picking it up. Data centers should also avoid using mechanical scrubbing of the access floor panels to prevent degrading the anti-static properties of the tiles. 

Subfloor Void Cleaning

You should clean the subfloor every six months or more to remove the collection of debris over time. This requires the removal of the raised floor tiles and vacuuming with a critical area vacuum equipped with a ULPA filter. Carefully remove any additional contaminants and carefully clean around the cables. Cleaning the subfloor should be handled in sections rather than all at once. Take this opportunity to inspect for any damage or wear. 

Recommended Best Practices

Prevent Contamination

You will want to do your best to limit the number of contaminants entering the data center. Place sticky mats at all entrances and include an area for unpacking any servers or equipment before bringing them into the computing areas. 

Use Qualified Contractors

Always have your data center cleaned by contractors with experience cleaning data centers that use the proper equipment and trained employees. Personnel should be screened and properly trained to perform the critical cleaning. Ensuring they are properly trained helps reduce the risk of improper cleaning, accidental downtimes, and potential damage.

Finally, always ask for references from other data center operators that have used their service to ensure you’re dealing with a qualified and reputable contractor. Some of the top data center cleaning companies include Data Clean, ProSource, Sealco, and Spec-Clean.

Recommended Cleaning Frequencies

The industry recommends that raised floor surfaces be cleaned at least every three to six months to reduce contamination and prolong the life of the floor tiles. Subfloor cleaning is also recommended at least once per year to ensure dust and debris are removed, so it doesn’t migrate into servers. 

Keeping your data center’s raised floors clean and maintained can help improve energy efficiency and keep the servers running smoothly for longer. Downtime can be debilitating for a data center, and tackling the cleaning of your raised floors can be a tedious job, but it is essential for safe operations. 

Hiring a professional to clean and maintain your data center’s raised floor can help eliminate potential problems and prolong the life of your raised floor and computer servers. Look for an experienced data center cleaning company with trained personnel that specializes in data centers. 

About the Author
Amber Erwin, a former business process analyst, writes and develops content for various businesses and industries.