Minimizing Contamination in the Computer Room
By Carol Blake Access Floor Systems, Inc. Abita Springs, LA


Minimizing Contamination


There are several measures that you can take to minimize contamination. Because these measures are likely to entail costs that may need to be justified to company management, the first thing to do is establish and maintain a log of equipment failures or I/O errors. This database will be useful later in correlating downtime to contamination levels. It can also justify how a contamination control program has reduced previous expensive downtime.
Here are some measures:

All filters should be replaced throughout the computer room on a periodic schedule. Appropriate filter maintenance will help ensure removal of particulate contamination, as well as ensure the necessary airflow rates through the computer equipment.

Air filter replacement and computer room cleanliness must be maintained throughout the computer system's life.

Filters on air conditioners should be changed regularly to prevent reduced airflow because of dust loading.

Computer and peripheral filters also need to be changed regularly to prevent reduced airflow because of dust loading.

The computer underfloor should be periodically vacuumed with a computer room vacuum cleaner. A typical computer vacuum cleaner has a .5 micron or better exhaust filtration capability.

By placing a dust or sticky mat at the entryway into the computer room, particulates can be prevented from entering the room on the shoe soles. Some well constructed mats can hold up to six pounds of dirt and only be 4' X 6'.

Minimize the people traffic in a computer room.

Locate all printers outside the computer room in a separately conditioned space. Printers should be away from mass storage devices and other computer equipment. Construct the printer area to eliminate the spread of paper dust to other equipment.

Always locate printers in a separate room to avoid dust contamination, and to reduce traffic in the computer room.

Never store paper and cardboard boxes beyond what is needed for daily operations inside a computer room. This material is a source of dust, a potential fuel for fires and generates unnecessary people traffic.

Next, call the vendors who serve your facility. Have your mechanical contractor inspect pipes for rust and an environmental maintenance company inspect your facility for other hazards. Have your halon piping and detection system inspected. This is extremely important with interior construction which involves sheetrock. Holes punched in the wall under the access floor as well as on top of the raised floor should be caulked or repaired. Extra efforts should be made any time there is interior work done in the building to insure the sheetrock does not enter your computer room.

Have all work done that requires cutting done out of your facility, especially on the floor system. Construct barriers out of visqueen if this cannot be prevented on interior construction.

Watch the location of your garbage bags in the environment. Every time a printout is thrown into an open wastepaper basket, a cloud of dust fills the air. You may not be able to see this cloud, but your equipment will eventually feel the results.

Use dust controlling measures around operator areas. Provide dust wipes for your operators and incorporate a dust down for your operators equipment on alternating shifts, or once a day.

Make cleanliness part of your management program. Cleanliness is critical, and your employees should understand why.

If you have carpeting in your computer room, have it vacuumed regularly. Not with a Hoover or a Sears vacuum. The type of vacuum we recommend has a .05 Microstatic filter. This prevents particulates from the carpet from re-entering the air. It is also equipped with a static dissipative rod. This prevents static from building up while vacuuming.

Have your raised floor inspected. The effects of an aging raised floor system on the environment is something you will be hearing more and more about.