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Managing Risk – Server Room Cooling

26th May 2022

If you have responsibility for your companies server room, you’ll understand how important it is to minimise any disruption to the function of this equipment. Here we discuss 5 risks associated with server room cooling and how to minimise them.

Risk 1 – Server Room Cooling Equipment undersized

It is common (poor) practice to select equipment based on the nominal cooling capacity stated in the manufacturer’s brochure, which in most cases should be downrated by 30-40% to arrive at the actual net cooling to the room.

This results in failure to maintain the desired room temperature and potential premature equipment failure due to constant operation at 100% output.

Risk 2 – Selection of “domestic” cooling equipment

Most manufacturers of comfort cooling offer small systems designed for domestic use and expected to operate intermittently. When used in server rooms, running 24 hours/day, these are susceptible to premature failure.

When selecting comfort cooling (because the room does not merit a close control system), ensure that it comes from the high quality end of the range and from a high quality manufacturer.

Risk 3 – Water leakage

Condensate is usually pumped away from the room, but the condensate pump fitted within the unit is one of the most likely points of failure.

Avoid ceiling mounted units so that, in the event of a leak, water does not leak onto the server equipment. When using wall mounted units, gravity drain the condensate to a low level robust condensate pump with inbuilt leak alarm.

Risk 4 – No emergency breakdown cover

If the AC equipment breaks down outside normal working hours, damage to the server equipment may occur unless an engineer can attend to it within 4 hours.

Ensure that your service provider can guarantee a maximum 4 hour response 24 hours/ day, and also install a remote alarm system to facilitate access to the 24 hour call-out service.

Risk 5 – No back-up

Even with 24 hour emergency cover, it may not be possible to rectify the fault during the first visit. Having a back-up system would off-set this risk, in which case we suggest both systems run continuously so that there is no reliance on operation of auto-changer/ start-up switch gear.

Risk 6 – Tripping out on wet bulb temperature limit

Comfort cooling systems, even when operating within a server room environment, control on wet bulb temperature, This means, when the room is very dry the system can trip out despite there being a demand for cooling, causing the room to overheat.

Introducing a small amount of fresh air can mitigate against this, as well as providing a positive room pressure. 

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