Frequently Asked Questions

Is Critical Facilities Solutions an International Company?

Until July of 2018 our focus was the United States but now have a UK headquarters in London which services the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

Why Should I have my data center cleaned?

Particle and contamination build up eventually causes failures in electronic circuits within servers and hardware. Potential consequences are wide-ranging, from slowed servers to catastrophic equipment failures.

How does data center deep cleaning prevent downtime?

It ensures the avoidance of problems arising through the accumulation of inevitable contamination. Along with excessive heat, contamination is a leading cause of IT equipment failure. Airborne particulates in a data center can easily be carried into the internal circuits of equipment through the air conditioning process. Our data center technicians remove the threat by thoroughly cleaning every square inch of your data center.

How often should a data center be cleaned?

Every environment is different. For example, lights-out areas do not require the same cleaning intervals as high-traffic, inhabited areas.  A data center that offers client tours is going to need an enhanced cleaning program versus a quarterly or semiannual program of a  data center that does not. Most hardware and industry experts recommend an annual deep cleaning with a quarterly surface cleaning.

Is a particle count reading enough to determine if a data center needs cleaning?

Not necessarily. A particle count reading measures the airborne particulates within the entire data center / computer room at the time of the sampling. It does not capture the particulates that have settled under and above the raised access floor. Settled particulate contamination should be addressed when considering your data center cleaning preventative maintenance program.

Do I have to shut down my operations to have my facility cleaned?

No. Shutdowns and downtime are a thing of the past. Our technicians work around your operations and staff. Of course, certain activities will require uninterrupted access to your work area, such as applying an anti-static finish to the floor, for instance. If, however, you require a post construction clean, we can discuss that in our data center cleaning consultation.

What are some causes of data center contamination?

The human body is the number one source of data center contamination. Dandruff, dead skin flakes, hair, body oils, makeup residue, bacteria and germs are just some of the many forms of contaminations humans introduce to data centers each time they enter.

Also from humans – sodium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium contamination can be introduced. An example would be the fact that a cigarette smoker releases airborne particles up to one half hour after smoking a single cigarette.

Soil transferred from outside environments: carpet fibers, dirt, bacteria and chemical residues from hallway and bathroom floors, food particles, and cleaning chemicals and finishes brought in on the soles of shoes and the wheels of carts, are also common sources of contamination.

Metallic particles: Worn air conditioning parts, metal shavings, electrical rewiring debris, raised floor tiles, heating ducts, vibrations from HVAC and computer units, printers, zinc whiskers, and friction from moving parts on equipment are all causes for metal particles to be released into the ambient air and subfloor plenum. If you picture the structure of your access floor system, it’s generally a metal-bottomed pan (or at least metal tile edge) sitting on a metal grid and pedestal system. The floor is under constant vibration caused by the computer cabinets and CRAC units. That vibration causes an eventual breakdown of the metal and releases tiny metal fragments into the subfloor plenum (often referred to as ferrous metals).

Biological: Water often accumulates in ductwork, CRAC unit drain pans, humidifiers, ceiling panels, insulation, and carpeting. The danger to this is that stagnant water leads to bacteria, viruses and mold. Another common contamination problem is the mixture of moisture in the CRAC units with metals and other contaminants in the air produce an alkaline build-up in the CRAC unit drain pans. These contaminants then become airborne through the normal operation of the CRAC unit itself. The result, if left untreated, is accelerated corrosion of pedestals, floor panel bottoms, grid pieces and metal cable trays.

Organic: Cardboard boxes, wood (pallets) items made of rubber, paper, elastomers and plastics are all sources of contamination. Products made from these materials have the natural property of “breaking down” and releasing themselves back into the air as tiny particles.

Raw Concrete Sub-floor Deck: This is a major source of contamination, and yet often the most overlooked. Raw concrete, like the other organic contaminants listed above, also has the property of “breaking down.” To illustrate this, if you have a raw concrete garage floor or patio at home and you can rub your hand across the raw concrete a fine white or grey powder will be on your hand. If you jump on the concrete you will see dust come up off of the surface. The same thing happens to the raw concrete sub-floor deck.

What causes zinc whiskers?

Metal surfaces are coated with zinc in a galvanization process to help protect them from corrosion. Particleboard core floor tiles made from the 1950’s until the early 1980’s were formed by applying a zinc-electroplated passivation coating to the sheet metal pan on the bottom and sides of the tile. During the plating process internal stresses occur to the metal that later leads to zinc whiskers, or needles, forming on the surface. Zinc whisker remediation is one of our specialities. Read more in our zinc whiskers white paper.

How often should you replace a data center floor?

Manufacturers typically stress you replace tile at the minimum of every 20 years. Depending on traffic in your data center, you may need to refurbish or replace more frequently. Read more about our raised access flooring services.

What’s the difference between a Quantum Tile and a perforated tile?

A Quantum Tile, or better known as a Quantum Air Tile will direct air from the plenum in a specific direction whereas a perforated tile simply allows air to come from the plenum directly upwards.

What is a blanking panel?

A blanking panel covers open areas within a data rack. This helps with airflow and reduces the consumption of energy from the CRAC units.

What is the ideal temperature for a data center?

The ideal temperature for a data center is between 68 and 71 degrees although many keep their data centers near 80 because of energy consumption. The reason many companies are unable to keep the temperature low is because of airflow which can be fixed with a few minor adjustments. Having a professional airflow assessment completed is always ideal and shows you options of ways to decrease energy consumption.

Is there a power management device for data centers or commercial buildings?

The pMon is a device only available through Critical Facilities Solutions in the U.S. and in Canada to assist in power management and power monitoring. Ever wonder why your heat/ac bill is so high every month and what you could do about it? Whether on a commercial building, or a small data center, the pMon can help monitor such expenditures. This device works remote with you iPad and can be logged into anywhere in the world.