Stange Odor from Server Rack?
Posted on 2012-09-05
OK, I could really use some help with a very stinky problem. I have a 400 square foot office with a 25 square foot closet that houses a server rack. A few days ago I started to notice a strange odor in the office. Over the course of the day the odor became so powerful that I needed to leave the office a few times. Due to chronic allergies, I could not locate the source of the smell. It was like a cross between burning wires and a dead rat.
The smell seems to be worse between 7-9 am and 5-9 pm. A colleague said it smelled like a sewer. We checked the bathroom and everything is working fine there and the smell is not coming from there. I thought it was an exhaust fan in my server closet that was burning out, but we eliminated that.
I had Orkin Pest Control inspect the office for dead pests. They (thankfully) did not find any dead animals and the technician said to his trained nose the smell was more like burning wires then any dead animal.
I am 90% sure the smell is, in fact, coming from my rack. I just can't determine exactly where. I have several sets of rack fans that I disassembled and checked - no odor. They were very dusty so I cleaned them out. I then pulled my PowerEdge R300 server (the only active server) and opened it up. The hard drive air intakes and all of the in case fans were coated in dust. I pulled the CPU heat sink and looked at it closely - the thin metal fins(?) we so caked with dust that no matter what angle you used, light was blocked.
I very carefully opened the server, pulled out the fans and used compressed air to blow out the dust, cleaned out the inside of the server and the hard drive cages. The server is back online now. I do not think this was the source of the smell.
What could cause this type of odor? Is there any tool that would help me locate the source of the smell?
Please let me know if you need any further information. Thanks!