Contributed by ABM.

An average minute of data center downtime costs thousands of dollars. Proper contamination control can decrease the chance of a shutdown due to contamination. Changing equipment, upgrading infrastructure and daily maintenance all provide opportunities to introduce contaminants into the data center. Many data center operators make the mistake of overlooking environmental factors in their facilities. This oversight can be costly. Over time, contaminants damage critical components and lead to equipment failures and downtime.

Control all entry points to keep contamination out

Staff need specialized training to not only remove contaminants, but to prevent them from entering the data center in the first place. Use double sets of doors, seal doorways to keep out particles and prevent cooled air loss, install entryway matting and restrict assembling and unpacking materials to outside the data center. Everyone who enters the data center, whether a technician, maintenance worker, or operator, should wear protective equipment to minimize the contaminants they bring into the facility.

Control what’s already made it inside

No matter how stringent prevention efforts are, some contaminants will make their way into the facility. Regular, specialized cleaning will remove the contaminants that enter the data center. Environmental surfaces, equipment, and floors should be cleaned at least quarterly and the underfloor plenum should be cleaned at least annually. Only cleaning products and tools that are approved for data center equipment should be used.

Control the equipment that controls your environment

All your operations and equipment affect each other. Particulates in HVAC systems can increase cooling energy costs. Change cooling system filters on schedule to minimize contaminants. Airborne gases can also lead to corrosion and failures so be sure to clean ducts and airways on schedule to avoid buildup. Lastly, maintain your systems mechanically to stop particles created by wear and tear.

David Roe is senior vice president of technology and manufacturing at ABM.