Dell PowerEdge R410's fans started periodically going loud, then quieting down after 5-10 minutes.

We have a Dell PowerEdge R410 running Server 2012 R2.  It's got 2 x Xeon E5520 CPUs, 64GB (8 x 8GB, 1.5v, 1067MHz) DDR3 ECC SDRAM, a PERC 6i, and four 450GB Seagate 15K.7 Cheetahs in a RAID6.  It lives in a 65F environment.  Previously, it would just run without a peep.  Several weeks ago, it started periodically spinning its fans up to full speed (14K-17K RPM according to OpenManage).  It would do this about every 15-20 minutes, and the fans would spin down after 5-10 minutes.  It does not appear to be load-based, as the CPU is at idle 99% of the time.  It doesn't even appear to be OS-related, as I've had the server fired up with the hard drive array disconnected, and the fans get loud with about the same frequency.

In OM, under Voltages, everything is Good.  Under Temperatures, the only thing present is the System Board Ambient Temp, and hovers around 20-22C.  I've never seen it go higher.  In fact, everything in OM is "green".

When the fans quiet down, they are typically around 4K-6K RPM.  

(When the problem started, I began troubleshooting by checking OpenManage.  OM noted that one of the 450GB drives (which were Seagate 15K.6 at that time) had failure predicted.  I RMAed that drive and got back a 15K.7, so I decided to replace the other three 15K.6s with matching 15K.7s.  I don't necessarily think it's related, just mentioning it for the sake of mentioning it.)
BIOSes and Firmware:
--Motherboard BIOS is v1.12.0, dated 07/30/13, which appears to be the newest BIOS available.  
--iDRAC6 is on v1.98.00 (Build 8).  It was on something lower; I just updated it yesterday but didn't note the previous version.  
--PERC 6i is on, which I am pretty sure is the most recent version.
--Driver versions are probably irrelevant as the problem happens when not even in the OS.

I've reinstalled the motherboard BIOS and iDRAC6 firmware over themselves (IE replacing with the exact same version), which had no effect.  I am getting my downloads from Dell directly, here:

I've seen threads from several years ago that talk about updating the BMC to a "newer version" to resolve the noisy fans.  As far as I can tell, there's no BMC or rather, if there is, its abilities are superseded by the iDRAC6.  I've attempted to install (reinstall?--I could have sworn I did a BMC update a LONG time ago) BMC v1.92, but whenever I run it, I get an error that states "this update package is not compatible with your system configuration".  I assume that means that the updater didn't find a BMC.

Just for the hell of it, I tried to install (reinstall?) the PERC 6i firmware (v6.3.3.0002) and it also gives the "package is not compatible" error.  I am positive there's a PERC 6i in the system, so does the error mean that the updater doesn't like the OS the server's running?

Anyway, the periodically loud fans bother me.  I am concerned it's a sign of impending failure, and I have a hard time trusting production VMs to this box in its present condition.  Please advise!
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This is what is supposed to happen when it gets hot.  Assuming ambient temperature isn't too high, the culprit is most likely dust.   Shut the system down and give it a good (and gentle) cleaning with a shop vac.   You'll want to suck out as much as possible then reverse the flow to blow air/dust out, then repeat as necessary.

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Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
If the ambient is not changing then it is likely a component is starting to fail. If signalling from one of the fans starts to falter the system would go into "limp mode" thus spooling the fans up to compensate.

And yes, air flow could be impeded by dust if the environment is not "clean".
SINC_dmackAuthor Commented:
I took the R410 outside and gave it a good once-over with some compressed air.  The inside of the server was almost dust-free to start with so I wasn't hopeful, but after putting it back into service, the fans have stayed in the 4K-8K range with no trips into the ear-bleeding range.  

I'm not sure what the issue was, but if the server's fans are still behaving properly tomorrow, I'll consider the issue resolved and award points.  Thanks!
It takes a surprisingly small amount of dust and grime to restrict air flow ... depending on where the foreign matter is located.
SINC_dmackAuthor Commented:
It's the following morning and the server is still "quiet", so the compressed air seems to have done the trick. Thanks!
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