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3 tips for data centre cleaning

In today’s online-centric world, data centres are fundamental to life as we know it.  Often taking shape as massive dedicated areas within buildings used to house computer systems and related components (like routers, servers, storage systems and backup generators in case of a power breakdown), data centres typically store and process billions of megawatts of information — either physically or in the cloud. 

Considering their immense value to the modern business, data centre maintenance is of paramount importance. While much of this is taken care of by in-built features like ventilators, cooling systems, and fire suppression systems, just like the rest of a company’s premises, cleaning is vital.

However, data centre cleaning (also known as technical cleaning) isn’t as simple as just dusting the area and wiping down a few pieces of equipment. Not only are there specific techniques you need to use to effectively clean data centres, but certain guidelines and safety procedures to follow. So, to give you an insight into how we keep data centres spick and span as part of our industrial cleaning services, here are our three top tips for data centre cleaning. 

1. Proceed in a methodical manner

You don’t want to jump straight into any cleaning task without any forethought, let alone a data centre one considering the potential fire and electrical risks, plus how delicate — let alone expensive — the equipment inside is. Here at NuServe, we follow the steps below during our data centre cleaning services. 

Perform a preliminary site assessment

First of all, we perform a preliminary site inspection to see if the data centre is ready to be cleaned, and if we need any extra equipment to safely and effectively carry out the job. For instance, we might find that there are obstacles to a safe cleaning operation that need to be dealt with beforehand. We also may need PPE to clean particularly hazardous pieces of electrical equipment.

Work from cleaner to dirtier

When cleaning, we make sure to tackle the cleaner areas first to avoid the possibility of spreading dirt from the dirtier regions. One example of this would be cleaning a piece of equipment’s exterior before the hard-to-reach parts.

Clean from high to low

Similarly, our team cleans from high to low to reduce the chances of dirt dripping or falling onto already cleaned areas.

2. Perform particle testing

Data centres are considered cleanrooms, which are spaces that need to be kept especially free of particles in order to provide a safe environment. This is because data centre equipment is incredibly sensitive to dust. For example, dust can stick to electrical components, effectively insulating them and preventing them from being cooled. This can result in overheating, faults, or even the risk of fire.

Not only should a data centre clean involve extensive removal of dust, but also particle testing to measure the effectiveness of the clean in terms of the dust particle levels. These are guided by the ISO regulations, which are measured from ISO Class 1 to 9, with 1 being the cleanest. Data centres generally need to be ISO 7 or 8 classified, meaning they must have either no more than 352,000 particles of a size 0.5 micron or larger per cubic metre of air (pcm), or 3,520,000 of such particles pcm respectively.

But how exactly do you perform particle testing? Well, this relies on having specialised measuring equipment, which is why you should rely on professional data centre cleaning services like the one offered by NuServe. Our staff are experienced using such equipment and know what to look out for, meaning we can ensure that your data centre will be both clean and safe.

3. Use the right equipment 

Data centre cleaning jobs require particular types of equipment for effective cleaning. Some of the most important types include:

Lint-free cloths

Lint-free cloths (also called tack free cloths) are sticky cloths imbued with a tacky substance (typically beeswax). These are able to remove loose particles of dust and general dirt from a surface, which is critical considering the importance of getting rid of as much dirt as possible for safety reasons.

Canned air

Electrical devices often can’t be cleaned using water, so it’s common practice to use canned air (also known as compressed air or a gas duster) instead. This lets you spray compressed gas onto the equipment to clean it. 

Numatic  vacuums and dry mops

Here at NuServe, we avoid sweeping data centres, as this can push dust into cracks in the floor and cause finer particles to become airborne. Instead, we use ESD (anti-static) vacuums and mops instead, with the former protecting cleaners against electrostatic. So there you have it: our three main tips for data centre cleaning. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at your nearest convenience, and be sure to check out more about us and what we do on our website.

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