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Construction projects are a necessary part of improvements to the working environment. Whether it is to make more space, build out infrastructure or just make the space more appealing, sometimes it has to happen.

In my job, I get to see what happens to business when some pretty basic rules aren’t followed. Construction and drywall dust can get pulled into critical infrastructure of the IT Equipment and make a crazy mess of the insides of electronics and technology that run the daily business.

Of course, the photo above is an extreme example of construction contamination in an environment that had absolutely no containment during the project (Big No No).

Construction dust can consist of several different types of materials:

  • Drywall Dust
  • Concrete Dust
  • Tile And Flooring Dust
  • Sawdust
  • Ceiling Tile Debris
  • Metal Shavings
  • Water And Moisture

If any of these substances are allowed to get inside of equipment, directly or indirectly, it could cause serious problems in the future.

  • By directly, I mean a spill onto or dunk into these types of contaminants, standing water, etc.
  • Indirectly through being in the same environment during the construction process and sucking in the contaminants through the venting holes and fans that are built into the equipment to keep it running cool.

Proper containment is the key to making sure this doesn’t happen to your equipment. (We’ll talk about that in an upcoming post)

OK, so what does any of this stuff do to the circuit boards?

  • The biggest problem is, if the insides are coated with any type of contamination (even a thick layer of everyday dust) it could cause overheating issues and the equipment will not live out its normal lifespan of about 7-10 years. More heat means more work and shorter life.
  • Moisture can directly affect the boards by creating shorts between circuit level components and frying the paths in between.
  • Metal shavings, especially the tiny ones, can get sucked into the systems through the fans and create shorts in the pathways as well.
  • Some of these materials contain corrosive contaminants that can start a breakdown of the metals on the boards.

As you can see, the best way to keep electronic equipment healthy is to make sure it is clean on the inside, that no foreign substances are introduced to the inner workings of the technology. If it is, get it dealt with and cleaned out ASAP.

Construction areas are notorious for getting dirty pretty quick and can be very tedious to clean up afterwards. One of the other issues is that the construction doesn’t even need to be close to the equipment. Many times we have gotten a call because the HVAC system for the server room was on the shared system with the rest of the building. Containment was blown, and a server room far away got blanketed with a good coating of construction dust.

Make sure to ask your contractor what will be done to protect your IT Equipment during the construction project.

If they don’t have an answer, make sure they have insurance. 😉