[svlug] Should dust be busted?
skip at bigskypenguin.com
Sat Mar 6 13:33:34 PST 2010
Hey Joel & all,
What I've done in the past, and did a few hours ago, is take
the servers out of their little rack, take the top off and
blow the dust out with... sorry... compressed air.
What I was surprised to find is that the circuit boards and
everything behind the intake vents was very clean. The dust
was all clumped up in the vents and around the fan. The fan in
these MBX (Supermicro, really) models are right behind the
front vents and then there is a smaller fan blowing out the
back of the power supply.
So, they were pretty clean inside, but plenty of dust around
the fan and vents, which I blasted out with compressed air.
What about the liquid that can come out of those cans? I was
careful not to actually wet the components, although I'm sure
the freon or whatever it is does get on them, but is that
residual stuff harmful? Is that why you prefer a vacuum? That
sounds like a good idea.
Joel Williams wrote:
> You are correct about cleaning out dust.
> Dust reduces the cooling efficiency of heat sinks and blocks vents.
> Heat is a big circuit killer.
> Also frequent failure mode for chips is caused by thermal cycling the
> plastic packaging and connectors on the chip. This causes micro-cracks
> in the plastic that let oxygen leach into the actual circuits which
> kills them.
> More heat -> more thermal cycling.
> Other thermally sensitive parts are the capacitors. These are
> the little round cans that typically have a Y stamped on the top.
> (If you see the top bulging out, the cap has failed or is about to fail.)
> Keep these dust free.
> Dust also combines with moisture to corrode connectors.
> I just use a vacuum cleaner and paint brush to "carefully" extract the dust.
> Fans, particularly on CPUs and graphics cards require special care.
> Be careful not to "spin" the fan blades with vacuum air or brush -
> and shorten life of bearings. Never the less, be sure that the heat sink
> fins under fans are not blocked.
> Don't forget the power supply.
> If you don't want to unscrew the covers, just vacume the holes
> that pull the air through.
> I personally, don't recommend using compressed air (such as from a can)
> because it makes a mess and just blows the dust around.
> The vacuum gets the dust out of the connectors.
> Skip Evans wrote:
>> I've read several places that dust buildup in hardware can cut
>> lifespan by retaining heat and thus forcing components into early
>> So I like to periodically open up boxes and blast the dust out with
>> air cans.
>> Is this useful, practical and beneficial really? I'm heading to
>> hardware store soon and figure I'd pick up a couple of cans. I have
>> two 1U servers here that haven't been blown out in over a year and
>> wonder if it's worth the time.
>> What do big data centers do? Just keep really clean environments? My
>> place is definitely dusty, as when whether permits here in now
>> perma-frosted Madison I keep the windows open.
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