Cleaning and Consulting Services

October 9, 2020

cleaning and consulting services

Protecting the health of the personnel and equipment in your data center is central to maintaining your company’s ongoing success.  With recent advances in data center design, practically any amount of downtime is unacceptable. That’s why DataSpan offers computer room cleaning services and consulting to help ensure your data center and employees aren’t adversely impacted by any airborne or debris-related issues that can interrupt normal operations.

Interestingly, fire incidents are behind 21% of data center outages, the second-highest cause of downtime after power issues. This percentage is so high because computer room fires typically start either inside or close to hardware that acts as a heat source. And as you might be aware, even a small accumulation of dust particles on or near equipment can result in the combustion or explosion of concentrated particulates.

With the demands on data centers to continuously stay up and running and equally pressing concerns about operating a well-maintained facility, we should take a closer look at how professional data center cleaning may be one of the most prudent business decisions anyone can make.

Why Clean Your Data Center?

The best way to eliminate downtime is to stop problems before they start. When you choose to work with DataSpan, our specialized anti-static cleaning services will protect your storage media and other critical infrastructure assets, as well as your staff. That frees you to continue your uptime operations.

What’s more, you can be confident that all work will be carried out by our experienced data center cleaning staff. All our personnel have passed extensive background checks and possess the necessary security clearances. In addition, they have the technical skills needed to complete each job to meet the highest standards of excellence — including ISO Standard 14644 for federal and industry standards.

When it comes to enterprise-wide experience, DataSpan has been providing data center cleaning and consulting services to our clients for decades, including many Fortune 500 registered companies and secured government facilities. We provide the latest solutions for data centers, network operations centers (NOCs), computer labs, 911 centers, classrooms, trading rooms, co-lo sites, clean rooms and MDF/IDF Closets.

What Is Involved in Data Center Cleaning Services?

Data center cleaning and decontamination is an intensive process. The main goal is to keep dust and debris out of the sensitive equipment stored inside. Any dust anywhere in the facility needs to be removed, and the hardware itself needs to be carefully cleaned. Contaminants above and below the raised floor also need to be removed. This dust can end up on the hardware and jeopardize the facility’s airflow, making cooling less efficient.

Here’s what is involved in each step in the server room cleaning process:

Exterior Hardware Cleaning

Hardware is a critical component of your data center and, therefore, must stay clean. Dust in your servers and hardware, both seen and hidden, can limit reliability and increase heat buildup by blocking airflowBelt debris, a conductive black powder residue produced by some air conditioning units, can also cause equipment downtime.
During exterior equipment cleaning, technicians will clean the cabinets, hardware and workstations. They’ll use a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtered vacuum to collect and trap dust particles. Then, all components and surfaces will be wiped down with an anti-static cleaner. If cleaning input ports, the devices must be powered down.

Tops of Floor Cleaning

The top of a raised access floor is designed to dissipate static electricity. The floor tiles require a dust-free surface to be most effective. Any dirt on top of the tiles will reduce its ability to dissipate static, and they must be cleaned with anti-static chemicals. Since most data center floor tiles are high-pressure laminate (HPL), they also need special cleaning procedures. While this tile material is durable, improper cleaning can cause delamination or chipping.
Top of floor cleaning involves vacuuming debris first with a HEPA-filtered vacuum, followed by damp mopping. It’s crucial to avoid dry mops or brooms, which can push dust down through the perforated floor tiles. Dust in the airflow tiles will limit airflow or recirculate into the controlled environment. It’s also essential to use non-ammoniated cleaners that will not affect static dissipation and are approved for data centers. Properly cleaning the top of the floors will maintain static dissipation and prolong the life of your access floor.

Underfloor Cleaning

Underfloor plenum cleaning is central to a thorough data center cleaning program. The subfloor is the most-likely surface for dirt to accumulate, thanks to gravity. Any contamination that collects under the access floor will get swept into the air supply. Since the vents are next to the data storage hardware, any subfloor dust will be deposited directly into the server equipment. Dust in the air supply can cause clogged circuits, health problems for employees and increased fire risk.
Subfloor cleaning involves vacuuming the concrete beneath the raised floor using a HEPA-filtered vacuum. This step removes any built-up particulates that would otherwise enter the underfloor air supply. Cleaning technicians will remove one or a few floor panels at a time, for maximum efficiency. Removing too many at once can cause a drop in static pressure and cause machines to overheat. Before vacuuming, technicians will remove any large debris by hand and then will wipe down the floor as needed.

Why Is It Important to Seek a Data Center-Specific Cleaning Service?

A data center or server room is a critical environment that needs highly specialized cleaning and care. Most janitorial staff are not trained for the procedures involved in cleaning a data storage center. Working around sensitive electrical equipment requires a thorough knowledge of the approved tools, cleaners and handling procedures.
A data center cleaning provider will send highly trained technicians to maintain your equipment. These cleaning specialists will be aware of the cleaning practices for static dissipative and HPL tiles. They understand raised flooring systems and how to prevent moisture leakage to the underfloor. They also know how to remove access tiles safely to protect against static buildup.
Data center cleaning companies understand the delicate power load of a data storage facility. They will always plug into the maintenance outlets to avoid power disruptions. They also have a comprehensive knowledge of industry-specific cleaning equipment, such as:
  • Low-lint and non-shedding mops.
  • Dust cloths with particle absorbent material.
  • Non-ammoniated cleaners.
  • Electro Static Discharge (ESD) dissipative cleaning chemicals.
  • Vacuums with HEPA filters to trap particulates and prevent recirculation.

Brooms, dust mops and ammoniated cleaners, standard tools of the trade for many cleaning companies, aren’t safe for a data center environment. Your cleaning partner needs to build a customized maintenance program for your controlled space.

Because of their specialization, a data center cleaning company will use a systematic and thorough method to save you time. You can clean your entire facility with zero downtime, which is crucial since an hour of downtime costs the average data center $260,000. A reputable cleaning company will also do staff background checks to prevent data breaches and equipment theft. 

How Often Should a Data Center Be Cleaned?

The maintenance and cleaning schedule for your facility will depend on many factors. While you can abide by standard recommended cleaning intervals to keep your server room spic and span, the timetable can vary. Different data centers have varying levels of contaminants introduced and controls in place.

Some facilities need daily cleaning, and others only a deep scrub down once a year. Some facilities use HEPA filters in their air supply, which filter out 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold and other airborne particles. These facilities often mandate clothing like head coverings, booties, or even full-face masks for contamination control. These facilities also generally introduce fewer particulates into the environment. However, since the equipment is more sensitive to contaminants, it may require more cleanings, even several times a day.

Here are some general guidelines for data center cleanings:

  • Equipment and hardware cleaning should happen at least every three months.
  • Full top of floor cleaning should take place every three months and include damp-cleaning and scrubbing underneath equipment racks.
  • The floor should be cleaned with a HEPA filtered vacuum at least once a week.
  • Underfloor cleaning can happen less frequently, usually a minimum of once per year to every six months.

Contact DataSpan for a consultation to develop a cleaning and maintenance schedule for your facility.

The Importance of an Ongoing Maintenance Program

Any controlled environment needs an ongoing maintenance program. It preserves the sensitive equipment inside and keeps your critical environment as controlled as it needs to be. Your maintenance program should enforce protective clothing to prevent outside contaminants from being tracked in. It should also take into account proper ventilation. Server rooms will need to be positively pressured, so dust gets pulled out, and clean air gets pulled in. Most data centers also use a HEPA filter in the air handling unit to collect and trap airborne particles.
A comprehensive maintenance program that includes frequent cleanings can offer many benefits, including:
  • Lower operational costs.
  • More reliable infrastructure and longer-lasting equipment.
  • Downtime prevention.
  • Reduced environmental impact.
  • Healthier employees.
  • Prevention of insect and rodent infestations.
  • Avoidance of accidental fire suppressant dumps.
  • Lower risk of dust and electrical fires.

What We Offer

DataSpan offers many services as part of our comprehensive cleaning and consulting packages. Choose us for:

  • Environmental report with full service clean
  • Particulate counts and air quality tests taken before and after clean
  • Floor surface cleaning
  • Equipment cleaning
  • Subfloor and above ceiling cleaning
  • Post-construction cleanup
  • Disaster recovery
  • Subfloor sealing
  • Zinc whisker remediation
  • MDF/IDF closet cleaning

Cleaner Is Cooler

At DataSpan, we know a clean data center is a safe one. It shows your customers you’re operating a top-notch facility and taking every precaution to prevent fires and equipment malfunctions. With DataSpan’s cleaning services, you’ll receive many advantages, including:

  • Improved equipment reliability
  • Maintaining an optimal environment
  • Industry recommended best practices
  • Reduced downtime costs
  • National and global coverage

DataSpan — Affordable Cleaning Services for Superior Results

Minimize your risk of downtime with DataSpan cleaning services. We’ve been specializing in helping data centers for more than 45 years — since 1974. In addition, we offer a nationwide discount program that’s especially appealing to companies with multiple data centers. We’ll also customize our cleaning services to fit your schedule, which means you’ll never get an upcharge, even if we need to clean on nights, weekends or holidays. We always strive to complement your workflow.

To learn more about our industry-leading data center cleaning services, contact us today.