Contaminants are small to microscopic particles that can damage IT equipment and are mobile within a data center to reach IT equipment. Preventative maintenance schedules can be taken to minimize the introduction of contaminants into the environment, but over time they build up microscopically from daily data center operation. Once contaminants build up, they threaten servers with damage, corrosion, Increased heat output, and both soft and hard system failures. Each individual server room has specific needs and everyday cleaning and janitorial duties are not sufficient to remove these more invasive contaminants. A cleaning regimen should be established and thoroughly maintained to remove these contaminants regularly. There are some cleaning duties that can be performed by onsite staff, and others that should be outsourced to a professional cleaning company.
Maintenance Schedule for Cleaning Raised Floors
Any debris should be removed from a server room daily. Rooms with higher levels of traffic should be vacuumed daily as well. General cleaning of the raised floor should be done at least weekly. A broom should never be used on the server room floor because it will cause settled contaminants to become airborne. Instead, dry mop should be dedicated for used only on server room floors to prevent outside contaminants from entering the space. Every three months all raised floors should be deep cleaned with a vacuum equipped with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. After that, a damp mop with server room approved cleaning chemicals should be used to remove any remaining contaminants and dissipate any static accumulation. The mop should not be wet because excessive moisture can damage floor tile trim and lamination. The mop should be used exclusively within the server room so that outside particles are not brought in, which can cross contaminate the floor. It is recommended that perforated tiles with dampers be removed from the data center and thoroughly cleaned. Dirt and debris normally collect between the perforations damper surfaces.
Equipment and Surfaces
The racks and servers are the first places that filtered air encounters, making them the first place where small airborne particles can settle. Every three months the equipment and surfaces of the server room should be deep cleaned to remove any contaminants that migrated and settled upon the hardware. Equipment should be vacuumed using a HEPA filter. The server surfaces should be wiped down using disposable damp wipes with server room approved anti-static chemicals. Server doors and the tops of racks should also be thoroughly wiped down as well as any support equipment and remaining ledges in the server room. All structural surfaces in the server room such as light fixtures, windows and partition doors should also be cleaned every three months.
The ceiling plenum may be used to run cabling or as part of the air return for the cooling system. It should be cleaned at least every six months. A vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter should be used to vacuum either overhead or below the drop ceiling tiles. In addition to vacuuming, overhead raceways should be wiped down using a damp disposable cloth with server room approved anti-static chemicals. By cleaning the overhead every six months, the risk of contaminants entering the cooling system is greatly reduced as well as the risk of particles from the ceiling dropping over the data center floor and equipment.
General cleaning of the raised floor will help prevent the accumulation of contaminants in the subfloor, however, over time contaminants will accumulate from daily activity. The subfloor should be cleaned every six months as well. Raised floor tiles should be removed and it should be vacuumed with a HEPA filter equipped vacuum. Accumulated residue should be removed from the subfloor using a damp sponge to carefully work around cabling. Any cabling in the subfloor should also be inspected at this time. The supporting grid work should be vacuumed and wiped down with server room approved anti-static chemicals. Any rubber gaskets in use should also be removed and wiped down. When cleaning the subfloor, it is best to do it in sections. There should be no more than 24 square feet of flooring open at any time to minimize disruption of airflow to IT equipment and to reduce settled contaminants becoming airborne. It is recommended that the smoke or early warning fire detection systems be disarmed during the cleaning process to prevent false alarms.
Site preparation cleaning could apply to data centers that have neglected regular cleaning or it could apply to server rooms that have undergone new construction or renovations. In server rooms with new construction, the area should be thoroughly cleaned before IT equipment is turned on. The previous cleaning tasks can be either cleaned by trained on-site staff or a professional cleaning company. For a post construction clean it is better to enlist the services of a professional cleaning company as they are better equipped with tools and experience to do the cleaning job as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
In the event of a disaster such as a fire or a flood, a professional cleaning company should also be sought out. When a disaster and a likely outage occurs, both the cleaning time and efficiency are the greatest priorities in order to safely regain uptime. A professional specialized data center cleaning company has better tools and much more experience, using a step by step approach to cleaning and decontaminating a server room after an unexpected crisis. They are also able to assist with the recovery and restoration of IT equipment much better than on site staff.
Every data center has specific cleaning needs. Some general janitorial cleaning tasks can be performed efficiently by on-site cleaning staff, but the maintenance of deep cleaning a data center is much more difficult. It is important to maintain a cleaning and maintenance schedule to ensure IT equipment health and maintain uptime. Professional cleaning companies can be enlisted for any of these cleaning tasks and should be exclusively used for the more difficult tasks to maintain data center longevity.
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