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Long term issuses with WAY overheated server room

Posted on 2008-10-13
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My server room spent at least 24 hours at 120 degrees plus.  The smell of burnt electronics still looms 24 hours after repair.

All systems came back on and are currently running but some still have that electronic burn smell to them.

Most of my servers are all 2U Dell servers ranging from the 2550 series to the 2950 series.  I do have four blade servers, the 1955 models.  (I do actually think it was the blade box that may have saved all of my servers.  It had the back of the server rack around 20 degrees cooler than the rest of the room.)

I have many HP switches, a cymphonix box and barracuda.  The cymphonix and barracuda smell the worst.

I have an APC Environment monitor but somewhere along the way it stopped working.

Anything I should worry about or look out for specifically?

Thanks.
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Question by:flashtek1899
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Reddgum earned 300 total points
ID: 22703887
Power supplies will be the first items to go. Electrolytic capacitors don't like high heat environments, however, 120 degrees for 24 hours isn't really that bad.

It's the thermal cycling that kills most electronic equipment - I hope you didn't just suddenly chill the room from the 120 degree operation. When you find situations like that, you must combat your instinct to lower the temp quickly - computers aren't human beings as much as some geeks would like to think ;-)

Expansion/contraction of solder joints and the drying out of capacitors is the typical result of thermal cycling. In 25 years, my observation is that the power supplies are the weakest link next to hard drives. Neither of them like high heat.



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by:flashtek1899
ID: 22704497
I guess it all depends on what you might consider "fast" for cooling.  The AC was busted so it took about three hours to get the room down to 80 degrees.

I think most of my servers have dual power supply... I hope.  I will check that right now.

Thanks for the thoughts.
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by:aleghart
aleghart earned 100 total points
ID: 22707845
Check that smell again.  It may be "foreign" to the server room, but not burned electronics.

If the HVAC went out you had three things going on:

1. increased temperature
2. increased fan speed (due to temperature rise)
3. increased humdity

You will also be smelling the dust blown out of the chassis through the hot power supplies.  This blanket layer of dust will be dispersed throughout the room.

Increased humidity will smell odd if you've cycled your HVAC system.  Suddenly going to 75-95% humidity will bring out the smells of paint on the walls, the gypsum board and paper covering, carpeting, drop-ceiling tiles, mildew from condensate.  Also, it will help the dust stick to everything...enhancing that wonderful "old computer room" smell.
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by:aleghart
ID: 22707847
Sorry, forgot to mention...
If the HVAC system went belly up, you may also be smelling burnt wire or burnt compressor from that.
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by:Reddgum
Reddgum earned 300 total points
ID: 22711334
If you ever get a chance to go to a mountain top radio installation, do so. When you arrive, you will note two distinct things.

1. The smell.
2. The heat.

Generally, it is not necessary to keep computer or electronic equipment 'chilled' - in fact, they work better modestly warm. The idea isn't so much _what_ temp, but that the temp you select is _stable_. Our radio / computer / electronics rooms were all kept at about 85 degrees, and often reached 90 to 95 during the hotter summer months during the middle of the day. Of course, this was Arizona, but I wanted to point out that it's totally within the range of normal operation for electronic systems to run that way - 120 degrees isn't so bad and probably didn't cause any long term effects.

Rapid cooling would do more damage than running it at 120 for weeks.

The smell that'll hit you upon entering a mountain top radio room is partially ionized air and warm electronic components. Ahh, such memories. It's a smell like no other. :-)
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by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 100 total points
ID: 22713208
> 120 degrees isn't so bad and probably didn't cause any long term effects.

Unless it was 120 C.  :-|
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