Know your enemies: These contaminants will attack your data center
Even if you can't see it right away, your data center is under siege. No, we're not talking about cyber attacks - we're talking about contaminants. Materials that accumulate in your critical environment, and can cause your equipment to work improperly, overheat and even break down entirely. While some of it is visible, other types can be hard to detect without the proper training.
In order to defeat your enemy, you have to know what you're up against. These are the pollutants that can damage your equipment and potentially cause downtime for your entire company if left unchecked. Most computer rooms have controlled airflow to keep pollutants from coming in through the air. However, contaminants can still enter the critical environment when they're brought in by people, or generated by faulty mechanical equipment.
"Contaminants can enter the critical environment when they're brought in by people."
Dust and dirt
Dirt collects on shoes and clothes, sometimes in trace amounts. When unboxing new equipment, the box itself can carry dirt into the cleanroom. The type of dirt that's brought into the data center can vary depending on your geographic region. These materials don't just leave marks on the floor. When airborne, they can become dust and accumulate in or around machinery, affecting how it works.
Pollen is a thin, powdery substance that comes from flowers. It can irritate peoples' allergies, and it can also damage data center equipment if it's introduced to the environment. Pollen, like dirt, is carried in by people as they enter the computer room. These pollutants cling to clothes and hair. Certain types of pollen are plentiful during different times of the year.
Hair, skin and clothing fibers
These materials are often so small you don't even notice them. Small flakes of dead skin, hairs or fibers from clothes are carried into the data center by unknowing people, then the particles are transported throughout the facility by the air handler system where they can eventually build up on equipment and cause problems like blocking airflow and overheating.
Like pollen and other environmental contaminants, mold spores can be moved around by the air handler system and inhaled by your employees, potentially causing health problems. When the environment in your data center is not properly maintained, mold can become an issue.
"Data center cleaning requires the right kind of equipment with expertise."
The machinery in your computer room can create its own contaminants if not properly maintained. When air handler motor belts get worn down, they can generate a black soot known as "black dust." This substance, which is actually iron oxide, has magnetic properties that allow it to wreak havoc on disk drives when it's distributed by the air handler. Another mechanical contaminant known as "zinc whiskers" can accumulate on raised floor tiles. Zinc whiskers' conductive properties can cause voltage disturbances in your electrical equipment.
Your battle plan
The first step to a clean data center is to contact the professionals. Trying to clean a facility on your own can do more harm than good, as it's a very technical job that requires the right kind of equipment with expertise.
FirstTech Corporation has led the field of computer room cleaning and environmental maintenance since 1979, and we're still at the forefront today. Our data center professionals can help you reduce the environmental hazards in your data center. In addition to computer room cleaning and preventative maintenance, we also offer a 24-hour disaster recovery hotline for emergencies. Contact us to learn more about our high-quality products and impeccable service.