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Why do I need to ground server racks?

Posted on 2013-11-01
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Last Modified: 2013-11-01
Can someone give me a simple explanation on why I need to ground server racks?   I've had electricians say as long as the servers are plugged into a grounded outlet, it shouldn't matter.

I believe a short will always go to ground, but unless the racks are grounded, the short might go through me before it is goes to ground ??

My intial request was ignored, but recently a small AC unit leaked water onto the racks while I was pulling cables.

Thanks
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Question by:jimmycher
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5 Comments
 
LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Nick Rhode
ID: 39616864
I would put on in anyways just in case.  Its not that much of an extra effort to be a little bit more redundant to avoid ESD and ground the rack.  I mean in a sense Yes, you do not have to ground the rack itself.  The reason I say this is because it all involves with metal bonding.  As long as all the metal is bonded (rack, servers, etc) they will go to ground.  Without proper grounding or bonding you could be vulnerable to yourself, fire, damage to equipment.  

I would ground the rack just to keep that from lingering in the back of your mind, if you know what I mean.
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LVL 26

Assisted Solution

by:pony10us
pony10us earned 1200 total points
ID: 39616879
Failing to create an electrical bond between the structural components of racks and cabinets can trap currents within sections of them, resulting in potential safety hazards, failure of ESD protection, and ungrounded equipment.

There are many sources of electricity that could be present. Patch panels are carrying electricity. Static buildup from someone working on/around the rack. Poor grounding in the building wiring, a wire breaking and making contact with the rack, etc.

TIA/EIA-942 Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard for Data Centers and National Electrical Code (NEC) both have guidelines/requirements.
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Author Comment

by:jimmycher
ID: 39616969
Thanks Pony10us,

Can you give me a specific example of how I can get harmed; I'm fighting a bureaucracy to get this done.   Their butt isn't on the line, but mine is.

Regards,
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LVL 26

Accepted Solution

by:
pony10us earned 1200 total points
ID: 39617169
Offering a specific example is difficult. It really depends on many other factors.

For example, I have a somewhat elevated ability to retain static (EMI?) so having everything grounded is rather important.

An example, I used to have to work on a printer in an office some 30 miles away from where I worked. When they would call for service I would have them unplug the printer, have several people touch the metal casing while standing on the anti-static mat. When I arrived everyone would stand around and watch as I reached toward the printer and a 1 inch spark would jump to my hand.

Not exactly what you are asking about however it does show that power is unpredictable.

In any case, the response that NRhode gave is pretty accurate. You could be opening up the posibility of anything from shock, fire or out right electrocution. Remember the saying taught in electronics:  "Voltage hurts, Current kills"
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Author Closing Comment

by:jimmycher
ID: 39617232
Good info.
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