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5 Signs You Need a New Critical Space Cleaning Provider

Critical spaces such as data centers are full of sensitive electronic equipment, and like other sensitive assets, these environments must be handled with care. Regularly scheduled cleanings performed by trained and certified technicians can keep your data center running efficiently and effectively, while improper or inadequate cleaning can damage your equipment and ultimately your brand.

You can’t—and shouldn’t—trust your critical space cleaning to just any provider. Here are five red flags to watch out for in your critical space cleaning provider.

1. They think dust is a minor nuisance.

Dust is public enemy No. 1 for a data center. Electronic equipment like computers, servers, and routers are especially susceptible to dust, dirt and other debris. When contaminants enter these sensitive pieces of equipment, they can wreak all sorts of havoc, from overheating to short circuiting. In the worst-case scenario, they can even cause a dangerous electrical fire. 

Knowing how to safely and effectively control dust in critical spaces takes both special training, including OSHA 10, OSHA 30 and NFPA 70E training, and special equipment, like high-efficiency particulate air/ultra-low particulate air (HEPA/ULPA) triple-filtered vacuums. It also takes an ongoing commitment. Regular cleaning is essential for keeping contaminants in check and ensuring your critical space stays operational.

2. They don’t use anti-static cleaning products.

Similar to dust in terms of the amount of damage it can do, electrostatic discharge (ESD) can strike terror in the heart of any data center manager. While most people don’t feel a shock from a static charge unless the voltage is relatively high, electronic equipment is much more sensitive. Even low-voltage charges can damage sophisticated electronic components like those found in critical spaces.

Data centers typically use raised access floors, along with ESD tiles, to manage airflow and cables. To keep these floors free of both static and contaminants, critical space cleaning providers must apply the correct product. Using a static-dissipating cleaning solution with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will help keep your data center’s raised access floors and the air around them clean, healthy and static-free.

3. They don’t know the difference between a mop and a MOP.

Nothing good happens when you don’t keep your critical space in tip-top shape. In fact, bad things can happen—and often do. If contaminants cause your equipment to overheat and your servers to shut down, you’re looking at lost productivity, lost revenue and lost credibility.

When critical spaces aren’t properly maintained, downtime isn’t just an unfortunate consequence; it’s an expectation. And it’s a very expensive expectation at that: Unplanned downtime can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars per minute. A documented Method of Procedure (MOP) removes guesswork and reduces human error. If your provider doesn’t follow an established MOP—or even worse, doesn’t have an established MOP—they aren’t the right provider for your space.

4. They prioritize other spaces.

Critical spaces aren’t public spaces. Customers aren’t wandering around aisles looking for great deals, and schoolchildren aren’t taking tours to learn how servers work. Knowing this, your cleaning provider might be tempted to prioritize the cleanliness of more visible, high-traffic areas in a data center facility like the lobby or elevators. 

In fact, your data center should be spotless. Microscopic contaminants invisible to the naked eye can clog up ventilation systems, corrode circuitry, and cause equipment to malfunction. Now imagine what contaminants you actually can see could do. Your critical space cleaning provider should be able to remove contaminants down to .03 microns. If you can tell your data center needs a good cleaning just by looking around, it’s time to find a new provider.

5. They don’t know the language.

Critical spaces have their own vernacular. From the ceiling plenum (the space between the structural ceiling and the suspended ceiling used for air circulation) to zinc whiskers (tiny hair-like filaments that form on galvanized metal surfaces), data center lingo isn’t easy to master. And let’s not forget all the acronyms, like CRAC (computer room air conditioning), CRAH (computer room air handler) and PDU (power distribution unit).

Before you know how to clean, you need to know what you’re cleaning. If your critical space cleaning provider doesn’t know the difference between an equipment rack and a tie rack, give Square Care, an APEX Surface Care Company, a call at (800) 200-9680. We’re happy to sit down with you for a no-obligation, free consultation to discuss your critical space cleaning needs.