Beware of black dust in your data center
If your data center equipment isn't properly maintained, a strange black material can build up and spread throughout your computer room. A common phenomenon affecting many data centers, this is known as "black dust."
This material, which resembles a dark soot, can accumulate in computer rooms and cause failures in disk drives and other types of equipment sensitive to magnetism or heat. Learning more about this contaminant and how to deal with it will help you protect your critical environment and prevent disastrous equipment failures.
"This dust can affect equipment on a microscopic level."
What's black dust?
Black dust, or iron oxide, is created in air conditioning units over time when the parts get worn down. When an air handler unit's motor belt is out of alignment, it can create a black debris or dust. This dust is a combination of rubber from the worn motor belt and iron oxide from the eroded pulley. These two materials can give the dust some strange properties.
This debris can build up on the belt, fan and motor sections of air handler equipment. Many times, the air conditioning distributes it in the air stream, letting it accumulate on other pieces of equipment. In addition to looking grimy, this dust can affect equipment on a microscopic level, potentially leading to data center disaster.
How does this black dust affect your equipment?
This dust can insulate sensitive equipment from heat transfer, leading to overheating and breakdowns. Due to its magnetic properties, the debris can pose a danger to disk drives, causing them to fail. Since the black dust has metallic properties, it can be conductive and lead to short circuits and, in extreme cases, fires.
According to a 2012 study by John R. Hall, Jr., of the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 209 fires started in American electronic equipment rooms between 2006 and 2010. These computer room fires led to nearly $12 million in property damage. The accumulation of black dust and other contaminants can contribute to equipment failures that led to these disasters.
What can you do about black dust?
The first step in determining if you have a black dust contamination is to conduct a thorough check of your computer equipment. If black dust has been accumulating, there are a number of steps that will need to be taken in order to combat this nuisance:
- Clean every component of the air handling equipment, including belts, pulleys and motors.
- Replace any worn belts or pulleys. Check and replace them regularly before they get worn, so they don't contribute to black dust in the future.
- Ensure all drive components are properly aligned and check them regularly so they don't get out of alignment.
"The best insurance against black dust is proper, professional data center cleaning."
While the above steps are a great start, the best insurance against black dust contamination is proper, professional data center cleaning. Completely removing black dust, even at the microscopic level, requires special chemicals and comprehensive training. Professional data center cleaning services eliminate contaminants like black dust, ensuring your computer room is running as smoothly as possible.
FirstTech Corporation has been pioneering the field of computer room cleaning and environmental maintenance since 1979, and we're still leading the way. Our data center cleaning professionals can help you reduce the environmental hazards in your workspace. In addition to computer room cleaning and preventative maintenance, we also offer a 24-hour disaster recovery hotline. Contact us to learn more about our superior products and impeccable services.