3 Ways to Keep Your Server Room's Portable Air Conditioners Running

Computer servers can generate a substantial amount of heat, and you will need supplemental cooling to protect them from damage. A good option for those who use servers in a space not ordinarily cooled by central air conditioning is portable air conditioners.

However, the proper use of a portable unit demands that operators pay careful attention to their installation and continuing use; otherwise, costly wastes of energy and equipment damage can hit your business hard. If you use portable air conditioning units, then below are a few things you should do to keep them running as close to perfect as possible:

Seal and insulate the exhaust vent

All air conditioners, whether stationary or portable units, use the same heat exchange principles to remove heat and moisture from the ambient air. In the case of a server room, this involves pulling the heat from the air surrounding the servers and dumping into a bigger reservoir of air. Portable air conditioners accomplish this by routing hot air through an exhaust hose and out a window or other exterior opening. Any leaking of hot air back into the cooled space increases the amount of work on the unit and reduces efficiency.

To ensure that exhaust ducts and vents are removing all the heat possible, there are a couple of things you can do:

Seal the exhaust vent exit—The surrounding edges of the exhaust vent should be sealed with silicone, an all-purpose agent that can be applied with a caulk gun. Before applying, clean the edges of the vent thoroughly with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol. Next, apply a line of silicone one-quarter of an inch in diameter, and use your finger to smooth the silicone and make sure it is pushed into openings and crevices. For added protection and insulation, apply strips of aluminum foil tape over the silicone and edges to hold the sealed vent firmly in-place.

Insulate the exhaust duct—Prevent heat from radiating back into the cooled space by insulating the exhaust duct. Roll insulation, a foil-backed foam product, should be wrapped around the duct and secured with aluminum foil tape. Be sure to install the the foil-backed side of the insulation outward and keep the foam side facing the duct.

Maintain the filter

It's easy to forget about filters on a portable air conditioner, particularly in seldom-disturbed corners of server rooms. However, neglect of filters can have bad consequences; efficiency not only suffers, but stress placed on the compressor can cause the portable unit to fail. Maintaining the filter is simple, but you should keep these things in mind to be sure it is done correctly:

  • Use the filter—It may be tempting to just remove the filter and not use it, but this will drastically cut short your unit's lifespan. Dirt will accumulate on the evaporator coils of a filter-less unit, and this dirt will prevent proper heat exchange from occurring. As with a dirty filter, the compressor will attempt to compensate for poor heat exchange and eventually burn itself up.
  • Set a firm reminder—All the good intentions in the world mean nothing if you can't remember to maintain the unit's filter. That's why it should be added to your regular maintenance schedule, or if you don't have an established schedule, pop-up reminders added to a designated staff member's computer. A simple page noting the most-recent and upcoming filter change dates can be taped to the front of the unit as a visible reminder.
  • Wash the filter—Most portable units use a washable filter. Merely beating the filter against an exterior wall to loosen dust and debris isn't sufficient for cleaning. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines and wash the filter using a few drops of liquid dish soap and hot water. Just be sure to thoroughly rinse the filter after you are finished washing it to remove any traces of dirt-grabbing soap.

Keep the water draining

Drain hoses on portable air conditioners, as with central air conditioners, are susceptible to bacterial slime buildup. This substance is created as a by-product of bacterial growth in damp areas, and it will eventually clog your drain hose. However, the drained water must continue to evacuate the unit, or it will overflow onto the floor and cause damage to your building and furnishings as well as nearby computer equipment.

Keeping the hose clear and clean is not difficult; simply pour a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of laundry bleach down the drain hose about once per week during peak usage. This will kill any bacteria, mold or other microorganisms that can create water flow problems.

For more assistance, contact commercial air conditioning installation companies.