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Data Centre Cleaning Best Practices

Data centre and server room cleaning best practices are cleaning methods or techniques that have been generally accepted as superior to any alternatives because they produce cleaning results that are superior to those achieved by other means or because they have become a standard way of technical cleaning.

Data Centre Cleaning Standards ISO 14644-1 are defined under the technical guideline of IEST (Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology).

Best Practices for cleaning maintenance

Contaminants in a data centre can lead to overheating, corrosion damage, electrical and mechanical failure of disk and tape drives, power supplies and circuit boards. Maintaining a clean data centre is critical to its long-term success and continued uptime.

ISO 14644-1:2015 specifies the classification of air cleanliness in terms of concentration of airborne particles in cleanrooms and clean zones; and separative devices as defined in ISO 14644‑7.

Read further about the Data Centre Cleaning Standard

Subfloor & Cooling System

If your cooling systems are working properly, your CRAC and CRAH are delivering cool air to the electronic equipment.  If the subfloor plenum is dirty, then your cooling system is delivering contaminants directly to the same sensitive electronic equipment.  Contaminants that can lead to overheating, corrosion damage, electrical and mechanical failure of disk and tape drives, power supplies and circuit boards.  Debris shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate on the subfloor.

In most cases, a data centre’s underfloor is also its air plenum. Not cleaning beneath a raised floor can result in containments being drawn into sensitive computer equipment, which can cause overheating and shorten their life.

Underfloor contaminants will also contribute to the dirtier environment throughout the raised floor area as the debris will be circulated throughout your data centre. This will also lead to more frequent cleaning of cooling coils in your CRAC/CRAH units and replacement of filters if you want to maintain cooling capacity. Note: while cleaning under the raised floor look for any black rubber dust in front of the A/C units which can be a sign of misaligned blower belts. Not only will the misaligned belt contribute contaminants into the underfloor plenum, but it is also an indication of possible future problems if the belts aren’t replaced and realigned.

Dirt can plug up perforated air tiles reducing the output as well as A/C filters and cooling coils. It can get into the cooling vents on the individual pieces of equipment within the server cabinets which will lessen their ability to cool themselves. Over time the accumulation of dust and dirt within electronic equipment will lead to overheating and failure. Keeping your data centre clean, both above and below the raised floor not only improves its aesthetics, and energy efficiency, but also uptime.

Cleaning Schedule & Maintenance regime

• Clean floor surfaces quarterly or more frequently
• Clean equipment surfaces quarterly or more frequently
• Clean sub-floor plenum annually or more frequently

Dos Best Practices

  • If required use only those chemicals that are approved for the data centre, server room or comms room environment.
  • Make sure that the vacuum being used has a HEPA filtering system. These vacuum cleaners should be dedicated to cleaning the data centre only.
  • Use a dry mop or vacuum to pick up dirt particles on the floor and subfloor surface.
  • All attachments and tools utilised for cleaning in the data centre should be non-conductive, and if corded, only plugged into maintenance outlets, not empty rack PDU outlets.
  • When using power scrubbing equipment on the raised floor tiles make sure you are plugging them into maintenance outlets only.  Only use low-speed scrubbers on the raised floor; the higher the speed the greater the chance of creating airborne particles and you don’t want to risk the scrubbing equipment bumping into racks and cabinets.

Don’ts Best Practices

  • When cleaning under raised floor be sure not to remove too many floor tiles at one time.  This can cause a drop in static pressure under the raised floor and result in equipment overheating in other areas of the data centre raised floor environment.
  • Don’t limit your cleaning to the floor, prior to cleaning the raised floor, clean the server racks and cabinets first, starting from the top of the room and work your way down.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense to clean the raised floor then have someone come the next day and dust down the server racks knocking dirt back onto the floor.
  • Never use a broom or dry mop, this only pushes contaminants around and often leaves them suspended in the air, only to settle on another spot on the floor.
  • Don’t sweep, this only makes dirt particles airborne and will push them into the floor panel cracks and through cable cutouts.

Further Reading

Data Centre Cleaning Checklist

Data Centre HealthCare PDF

Computer Cleaning Checklist

Computer Cleaning Checklist PDF


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