Data centers are full of complex and pricy equipment that must be maintained in a carefully controlled environment to ensure optimal performance and prevent downtime. Two crucial factors in data center maintenance are controlling dust and regulating temperature, and the state of your HVAC system contributes to both.
HVAC filters are essentially the gatekeepers of indoor air. Not only do they pull in air from the outside, but they also circulate interior air. When they get clogged with dust, dander, and other environmental pollutants, particulates will eventually spread throughout the system, impacting indoor air quality and equipment housed in the data center.
Your data center HVAC systems may not be your primary concern when it comes to equipment maintenance, considering the massive amount of computer, networking, and power equipment that takes priority. However, if your workplace’s air conditioner goes out in the heat of summer, it puts your entire operation in jeopardy. What can you do to prevent the danger inherent to HVAC failure? With proper preventative maintenance, you can get ahead of any potential problems.
The Impact of Environmental Pollutants on Data Center HVAC
The air is full of pollutants and particulates, including pollen, smog, and more. However, interior spaces can also generate dust, dander, and other particulates that get circulated through the HVAC system. It’s essential to know that the level of pollutants going into the system can impact performance and indoor air quality over time.
Poor air quality can not only affect employees who suffer from allergies, but particulates floating around in the air can get into computer and networking equipment, causing overheating, impacting efficiency, and leading to damage. Luckily, avoiding this costly scenario could be as easy as monitoring the health of your filters.
What Happens When Filters Are Fouled
HVAC filters are designed to catch and trap particulates of a specific size. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, for example, remove airborne particulates of 0.3 microns or larger, which includes about 99.97% of dust, dander, pollen, mold, and even bacteria.
Your system may not require such high-level filtration. However, a clean filter - even one that doesn’t meet HEPA standards - should still remove a fair amount of larger particulates like dust, dander, and pollen that pose a threat to computer equipment. When filters get fouled, however, a couple of things can happen.
First, with a clogged filter, your HVAC system will have to work harder to force air through filters, and this could impact performance and operational expenses while also putting massive strain on the system and wearing it down more rapidly. Reduced efficiency, uneven airflow, temperature regulation, freezing up, and short-cycling are all potential consequences of fouled filters.
In addition, the filter itself will not perform as it should. Particulates that should be trapped and held will flow through ducts and out into the interior air. With proper HVAC maintenance, you can prevent this from happening.
Performing Preventative Data Center Maintenance
Preventative HVAC maintenance helps to keep your system running at peak performance levels and saves you time and money. It starts with regular inspections, cleaning, testing, and other maintenance. You should also create standard checklists for technicians to follow.
Monitoring and reporting, based on quantifiable metrics, should be part of the process. This action allows you to measure the relative efficacy of filters and keep track of wear and tear on HVAC equipment, so you can repair or replace parts as needed to prevent more significant damage. With a proper understanding of HVAC fouling, and a maintenance process in place, you should be able to avoid costly equipment failure and downtime and keep your data center operating at optimal efficiency. Get in touch with the team at Site Support Services, a division of Tate that specializes in data centers, for help with your maintenance tasks today.