An engineer works on computer servers in a server room.

How to Keep your Server Room Clean

For many businesses keeping computers safe is crucial for operations. As such, building engineers put a lot of effort into making sure they’re protected against a host of threats.  Examples include fire suppression systems, access security, and HVAC controls.   Computers must be kept cool in order to function properly. This is because high temperatures can damage electronic components.  But when it comes to the health and safety of your company’s computers, don’t sleep on dust.  The lesser known threat of airborne debris getting pulled into electronic hardware can pose a significant problem. In this post we’ll explore reasons why it’s important to keep your server room clean. 

Two Vital Reasons to Keep Your Server Rooms Clean.

A clean server room will keep your machines running longer. 

Whether you’re a small business with a few desktop computers, or a medium sized company with a small server closet, it’s still a good idea to keep the areas surrounding your electronic assets clean. Each year American businesses incur higher energy costs to combat increasing temperatures outside. During heat waves facility managers diligently monitor interior air temps. Cleaning should be an additional point of emphasis. This is because machines draw in air to cool internal components.  Dust can get pulled into the machines via intake fans.  Overtime the accumulated dust can insulate the machines and reduce heat transfer.  Air intake grills can become caked in dust, restricting airflow.  This will contribute to a reduction in air cooling efficiency.  In essence, dirty server rooms can overheat equipment and cause significant damage.

Excessive Dust and Fire Risks

Combustible dust explosions are a real thing.  Although the risk is low, the phenomena happens more often than you might think.  The impact and damage can be devastating.   Popular Mechanics magazine recently broke this phenomena down, “accumulated dust gathers on a surface, gets disturbed and flies in the air. When it meets an ignition source, the dust can ignite with explosive force.”

Electrostatic charges can ignite airborne dust.  According to the Federal Occupational Health and Safety website, “static electricity can produce a spark with enough energy to ignite combustible dusts in the air or on surfaces.” Server rooms house electrical devices that are constantly running.  All the more reason to keep these rooms clean and mitigate fire risks. 

A burned up computer with irreparable hardware damage.
Computer hardware with irreparable damage.

Four Ways to Help Keep Your Server Room Clean

Keep all Areas of Your Business Clean.

A properly cleaned facility will have good air quality throughout. Make sure your entire place of business has dust under control.  This is especially important because HVAC systems circulate air throughout various rooms.  Therefore, a dirty kitchen or dusty lobby can have a negative impact on your server room.  

A woman wipes finger through a dusty desk.
Finger painting in dust = Not good!

Change your Air Filters on a Regular Basis.

Keep in mind that your HVAC filters continuously capture airborne contaminants such as dust, hair and other debris.  One of the best preventative actions you can take is changing them out on a routine basis. This is because they can become clogged overtime. Old, dirty filters can have a reduction in airflow which makes the entire system less efficient.  This lowers the system’s ability to affectively keep things cool. Tip: Every time you replace the filter, use a permanent marker and write the date on it. 

A woman changes a dirty HVAC air filter.
The darker…the dirtier!

Use ESD, or anti-static wax on Server room Floors.

Many server rooms have hard surface flooring.  (Carpets are rarely used as they pose a bigger risk for electrostatic buildup).  Electrostatic discharge (ESD) floor finish provides a high-gloss, anti-static finish for vinyl, linoleum and ceramic floors in static-controlled environments.  The use and maintenance of this product will reduce the risk of electrostatic damage to electrical equipment.  

Use HEPA Vacuums When Cleaning Server Rooms.  

HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) vacuums capture dust and other airborne particles.  The key is the HEPA filter, which is engineered to trap a large amount of very small particles.  Standard vacuum cleaners for residential use can recirculate some of these particles back into the air.  HEPA vacuums operate using a series of internal and external HEPA filters.  The use of HEPA vacuums to clean an environment can reduce other threats such as airborne molds, pollens, and animal dander. 

Dust…oh the horror! But don’t have lose any sleep.  Instead, make sure you’ve hired an experienced cleaning company.  Is your cleaning company only using feather dusters? That’s so 20thcentury! And lastly, don’t forget about the dust that builds up in high places such as the tops of HVAC vents, tops of door frames, and other hard to reach surfaces.  

For more information on how to keep your server room clean, talk with one of our expert service consultants at Business Cleaning Solutions today.