After last summer’s excessive heat & lack of rain, this summer’s Monsoon season may seem low priority. But these storms are unpredictable due to multi-year patterns and they can be ferocious. Micro-bursts can quickly dump inches of rain and cause localized flooding. Each June you should handle any deferred maintenance around your server room and any floors and the rooftop above it.
Monsoon Storms can cause…
- Shorts and Damage from WATER
- POWER Surges and Outages
- Failure from Excessive HEAT
WATER – Water can enter your server room through gaps between floor, walls, and ceiling, and around conduit & cable entries and terminations. Water follows cables into rack-mounted and free-standing devices, then pools inside chassis and at low points on the floor. Being a good electrical conductor with little resistance, water lets big current flow where it shouldn’t, zapping devices in it’s path. Many solders pastes, flux, and copper traces tend to corrode when water is introduced to a PCB. Below is a server rack with water soaked flooring. The second image shows plastic sheeting used to direct water away from racks.
Water Prevention Tips for Server Room
- Avoid server room locations in basements or near exterior walls or “wet walls” with attached pipes.
- Mount equipment in rack, raised off floor.
- Install fire-suppression system (FM200) that is not water based.
- Keep a roll of sheet plastic, duct tape, and tube of silicone sealer handy.
- Silicone-seal gaps/holes in walls, floor, ceiling, hard-ceiling above drop ceiling.
- Consider a water detection system in server room that sends alerts.
- Send maintenance staff onto roof to patch holes and seams above server room.
- Replace water and foam fire extinguishers with Class C rated models using HaloCarbon, FE-36, Halon 1211 or C02, none of which leave liquid or residue.
- Cap off water-based sprinkler heads in server room, but check with your local fire department for regulations.
POWER – Spikes, shorts, brown-outs and outages are common during fierce Monsoon storms. These cause unplanned shutdowns, can damage electronics, destroy data and cause extended downtime for a business. Often caused by lightning strikes or downed power lines, these can also be caused by electricity shorting through water paths, and when networking devices fail they can send power surges through connected cables, frying devices and power strips along the way.
Tips to Avoid Power Issues
- Label all cables and cable-bundles in server rooms, and label all circuits in breaker box.
- Don’t waste money on cheap Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS battery backups). Rather budget and select a model based on it’s quality and available power in VA. Available power should exceed the sum of power required by all devices to be plugged in.
- Inspect the health of batteries inside UPS devices using their front display or dashboard, and replace batteries nearing end of life, especially this time of year. Most UPS batteries can be hot-swapped, avoiding shutdown of attached devices.
- Make sure all server racks have a ground wire attached to building and earth ground, and make sure metal conduits that hold data cabling are also grounded.
HEAT – Monsoon storms are accompanied by excessive heat. As ambient air temperature rises, so does the temperature inside and around electronic devices.
Most electronic components have temperature sensors that send alerts when limits are exceeded, and some can initiate graceful shutdowns to avoid damage. The best prevention is adequate flow of 64 – 81 deg F air around and inside devices.
ASHRAE recommends server room air temperature range of 64 – 81 deg F. Check this out for more details.
Using a handheld infrared monitor will identify hot devices and allow you to place small directional fans near those devices for a temporary cooling boost. A thermometer can also tell you the ambient air temperature inside your server room. With electronic devices, the Mean Time Between Failures decreases as temperature increases. Even a 10 degree rise can reduce expected lifespan of some devices by half.
Airflow restrictions can occur from accumulated dust & debris around device air vents and from devices placed too close together, and will compound any rise in ambient air temperature. Visually inspecting racks and air vents of mounted devices can identify where dust and debris are accumulating so you can arrange periodic cleanings.
Following last summer’s dry spell, it would be nice to have a more active Monsoon season this year. It is important to perform routine maintenance before the storms hit, so that your business operations are not impacted by vulnerabilities that could have been patched in time.
Contact LeeShanok to discuss your situation and see how we can help you prepare.
Your technology Partner,
The LeeShanok Team
Phoenix: 602-277-5757 | Tucson 520-888-9122 | firstname.lastname@example.org