Black Dust in Your Data Center

December 15, 2018

If you can see dust and debris accumulating in your data center, you have a problem. Even microscopic particulates can lead to damage in your servers and other sensitive IT equipment. One of the most notorious contaminants data centers have to deal with is commonly known as black dust.

This fine, sooty dust can suddenly start to collect on surfaces in your data center for no apparent reason. And despite what might seem like your best efforts to combat it, if you don’t understand what you’re dealing with and how to prevent it, you could even make matters worse.

In this post, we’d like to share just what black dust is, where it comes from, and how to effectively stop and prevent its accumulation. Read on to learn why black dust isn’t a problem you want to face on your own.

What Is Black Dust?

Today’s data centers are packed with electronic equipment that consumes vast amounts of power and gives off large quantities of heat in the process. Because of this, internal fans and other mechanisms are used to cool the equipment and keep it from overheating. But over time, without regular maintenance, air handling and conditioning units can fall out of alignment. Their parts, especially fans and motor belts, can become worn.

When tiny particles of rubber from an eroding belt mix with an air handling unit’s airflow, the resulting debris produced is iron oxide — or black dust. To the human eye, it merely looks grimy. But on a microscopic level, it’s even more insidious.

How Does Black Dust Affect Your Equipment?

Because iron oxide is both a fine dust and magnetic in nature, it readily adheres to sensitive equipment with magnetic and/or thermal features like disk drives and heat sinks. And since it’s also a metallic material, it possesses conductive properties and can act as a thermal insulator.

The result of equipment getting coated in black dust can be nothing short of catastrophic. Since it can both prevent proper cooling and cause electrical shorts, even the thought of having black dust on their equipment is enough to give administrators, CEOs and business owners nightmares.

As matter of fact, in the past few years, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has documented over 200 fires that started in American computer rooms and data centers and resulted in an estimated $12 million worth of damage. And the buildup of black dust may have been a significant contributing factor in these situations.

What You Can Do About Black Dust

Since data center dust control, including black dust elimination, requires special equipment, chemicals and training, the best way to avoid and eliminate it is to employ the professional preventative maintenance and cleaning services of a company like DataSpan.

It has been proven repeatedly that the best way to combat black dust is to keep it from happening in the first place. And the best way to do that is to work with a company that possesses the expertise to help keep your equipment in top working order. That way, wear-and-tear doesn’t result in misaligned fans, worn belts and the subsequent spread of black dust.

Stop the Spread of Data Room Dust With DataSpan

DataSpan has been keeping data centers up and running at maximum efficiency for over four decades. In that time, we’ve earned the trust of over half the Fortune 1000 — companies we’re proud to count among our pleased clients. To discover what our data center cleaning services can do for your organization, contact us today.