When installing thermal management on heavy-duty computer enclosures, fan or air conditioner filters are essential in keeping particulate matter away from sensitive electronics. Filters will make it easier to keep oil, dust, dirt, fibers, and lint away from the inside of the enclosure system. However, after deploying an industrial computer enclosure, it is common for filter maintenance to be overlooked (or not checked on a regular basis). Depending on the harshness of the environment, filters should be checked at least 1-2 times a month (or possibly more) to ensure that airflow is properly circulated throughout the enclosure.
Here are some guidelines for enclosure filter replacement:
1. The filter has reached its cleaning limit
If the filter is packed full of dust/dirt, then it might be time to change it out or simply try to clean it. Many standard thermal management filters (fan systems, air conditioners, heat exchangers) can be washed and reused. Aluminum filters (and some mesh filters) can be washed with dish soap and warm water, providing a clean slate for continued enclosure fan use. However, it is crucial to note that a filter will eventually deteriorate and reach a level where cleaning is not possible. If this occurs, throw it out and install a fresh filter.
2. A preventive maintenance schedule
Manufacturing plants, across the country, could have the exact same airborne particulates, but each may require different enclosure maintenance schedules based on unique conditions. The ideal maintenance schedule should be based on the individual needs of each location. Start with the manufacturer’s recommendation to create a baseline for your schedule to create the most cost effective, long term strategy.
3. The filter is no longer providing filtration
Grease or airborne oil will wreak havoc on the effectiveness of a filter and will quickly clog it – rendering it virtually useless within the enclosure’s fan system. It is simply not enough to clean the filters when you notice temperatures are starting to rise, as it is likely too late to correct the problem. Failing to maintain the proper maintenance – on an air conditioner or fan – will cause the enclosure’s fan system to be inoperable at the intended capacity and will lead to faulty parts, which will require replacement(s). This will all take a big hit on the yearly budget.
4. The environment varies throughout the year
To cool off the plant, manufacturing facilities are notorious for leaving doors open during the warm weather months. Seasonal fluctuations, in the air, may drive inconsistency with thermal management filtration. Pollen, for example, will be present during the summer, but non-existent during the winter. It is not enough to monitor the filters for a few weeks and figure out an anticipated maintenance schedule. Some months may be less harsh and dirty than others. It is vital to check your filters regularly, every month of the year.
Always find the ‘sweet spot’ between replacing filters too often and not doing so often enough. It will be ‘trial-and-error’ to figure out when to clean or replace. During the initial enclosure deployment, check and double check the filters every few days to make sure that air is flowing through them properly. A grimy filter will hinder the thermal management airflow process and could damage the electronics on the inside of the enclosure. Filters are not very expensive, so they should not be the reason that a computer, monitor, keyboard, or printer cease to work. Downtime can be detrimental to the bottom line. When it comes to filters – check and check often.
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