Humidification System Inspections
– Jim Lundrigan, Vice President of Operations, Electronic Environments Corporation, says:
Winter is almost here and considering the drier climate it brings, it is important to make environmental modifications in our data centers to adjust for this seasonal change. Now is the time that many data centers need to activate the humidification section of HVAC equipment to ensure an optimal environment throughout the winter months. After little to no use during the summer, how confident are you that your humidification equipment is ready to run efficiently, ensuring reliability and high performance this winter?
Humidification systems are necessary in drier climates and seasons to prevent issues such as static electricity and electrostatic discharge (ESD), which can potentially lead to more frequent instances of blown fuses and damaged IT equipment. In some instances, equipment can be destroyed by preventable water leakage from humidification systems that are not properly maintained. Malfunctioning humidification equipment can also produce excess water vapor, causing cooling unit components to slowly deteriorate over time.
When proper regulation of humidification levels is maintained within IT equipment thresholds or American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidelines, this enables a highly stable and effective environment for the operation of mission-critical functions. Systems that are consistently well-maintained offer the ability to reduce nuisance alarms and return calls between preventive maintenance (PM) visits, reducing data center service calls. Additionally, monitoring and changing set points can result in power savings, thereby increasing a facility’s overall energy efficiency. We see a trend, much like that of raising intake air temperatures, in which customers are lowering humidification set points from 45%, to 40%, to 35% in order to reduce energy costs over time.
Electronic Environments Corporation (EEC) has been providing key insights and advice to ensure data center maintenance for more than three decades, spanning various types of systems, designs and environments. EEC continually offers clients a schedule of inspections and repairs in order to prepare for and proactively prevent future challenges. A critical element of our checklists is to ensure humidification systems are functioning at peak efficiency through modification settings while preparing for the changing seasons. These inspections include: starting a humidification system and performing diagnostics; checking condensation pump operations and cleaning as needed; affirming that set points are operating correctly; checking overloads, fuses and electrical operations to ensure proper functionality; removal and cleaning of humidifier pans and drain lines as they build up deposits; adjusting pan water levels while testing and adjusting water overflow safety devices; calibrating humidity sensors; and where applicable, maintaining water filtration systems that feed humidifiers.
With years of extensive experience, EEC leverages a superior level of understanding allowing us to generate customized solutions for data center maintenance while leveraging an unparalleled understanding of individual customer preferences. With unique wants and needs, each facility that EEC serves requires solutions to fit individual situations. Examples of customized solutions range from steam canister humidifiers, which offer a simpler solution for troubleshooting but maintain a higher replacement cost, to UV systems which require higher levels of maintenance, or ultrasonic systems which requires a larger up-front investment but will run more efficiently and produce long-term energy savings. Maintenance and inspection is critical not only during times of change, but year-round to ensure the data centers function efficiently. With this in mind, EEC recognizes that a more thorough approach is paramount during the shift into the winter months as humidification systems will begin operating with higher frequency.