Keeping your relative humidity (RH) between 40-60% is important, as it minimizes the amount of time dust can spend airborne, forcing it to settle more quickly.
In environments such as data centres, server rooms, offices and hospitals, we rely on electronics to perform efficiently and operate as they are intended to. Dust accumulation can result in a myriad of issues in electronics, such as overheating due to fan blockage leading to hardware failure and even risk of combustion in extreme circumstances. It can lead to system performance issues as well, hampering workplace efficiency. In this latest entry in our “Why Humidify for Electronics” series, we’ll cover some ways you can reduce dust buildup.
Keep Electronics off the Floor
Regardless what electronics you have, if they are sitting directly on the floor it is only a matter of time before they are overwhelmed by dust build-up. Many desks now incorporate lower shelving that is raised off of the floor to protect against dust build-up, so if you have that desktop computer sitting on the floor, that might be an alternative to consider. Combined with proper humidity control that regulates air moisture, it should be easier to keep your computer systems clean and less prone to dust buildup.
Use Dust Covers When Possible
Whether you have a stack of servers or a computer workstation, using a dust cover on monitors and other electronics will ensure that no dust ever gathers on their surfaces, even under properly humidified conditions when dust generation is reduced. Simply take it off when working and replace it when finished. Be sure to clean any dust covers you have on a regular basis, however, as they are generally made of rubberized plastics and can collect dust easily.
Cover Power Cords
Many people don’t consider dust on their power cords a threat, regardless if they’re using a desktop computer or server. However, if dust continues to build up and collect, it can lead to safety risks.
Try using electrician’s tape to cover power cords that rest on the floor – this will also protect them from being damaged by feet if they are taped down flatly. Alternatively, rubberized mats or other forms of cover will be equally effective. At the same time, ensure that your power outlets themselves are protected with dust coverings, not to mention power bars and extension cords. A little preventative planning goes a long way in protecting electronics-based environments.
Allergies & Dust
Dust is the biggest trigger of allergies worldwide. Anyone who is allergic to dust reacts to either mite constituents or animal allergens with complaints such as sneezing, eye irritations or asthma. The air humidity plays a major role in the extent of dust turbulence. Experiments show that the adhesion of “moistened” dust to smooth floor surfaces increases dramatically above 30 to 40 percent. In this area, the weight of the dust particles also increases drastically due to water condensation. They stick together, form clusters, and quickly fall to the floor again.
The optimal humidity range for minimizing allergy complaints is therefore between 40 and 60 percent.
Maintain 40-60% Relative Humidity
The most crucial way to protect electronics from dust build-up is to enforce consistent humidity control. By using a humidifier such as one of Condair’s electric or evaporative cooling/humidification systems, you can manage interior temperatures and humidity levels far more efficiently. Keeping your relative humidity (RH) between 40-60% is important, as it minimizes the amount of time dust can spend airborne, forcing it to settle more quickly. Additionally, proper humidity control can minimize brittle components, reduce de-soldering occurrences and mitigate instances of electrostatic discharge (ESD).