Keeping IT Cool: Tips for a Heat Wave

July 22, 2013

Authored by Alana Smith, TeamCain

If you’re on the east coast of North America, you’ve probably noticed that last week was a little hot out. And by “a little” I mean, the thought of stepping outside and leaving your air conditioned bubble filled you with dread. I miss winter. This was what it was like outside TeamCain Headquarters on July 17, 2013 at 11:15 AM:

Images via The Weather Network and The Weather Channel

Keep in mind those screenshots were taken at 11:15 AM EST so it was only going to get worse as the day progressed! The top image was our weather forecast in Celsius but I wanted to make sure that anyone who prefers Fahrenheit could see that we were hotter than Los Angeles, Orlando AND Texas!! Canada isn’t always the “frozen north” that people think it is!

Even though the heat has eased off a bit, I can’t expect it to stay this cool for the rest of the summer and I’m sure another heat wave is in our near future. With the temperatures rising, how can you ensure that your systems and computers keep cool? Here are some tips:

Avoid Fan Problems – check the vents of your systems and clear them of any dust. Rising temperatures can increase the risk of dust clogging up your system so open the computer’s case once in awhile to inspect for dust buildup and remove it with compressed air.

Give It Some Space – keep your system away from vents and windows. Sometimes, changing the location of your system can keep it cool and removing any obstacles from around the system helps with airflow. It’s smart to leave 2 to 3 inches of space on all sides of your computer.

Server Room Solutions – IT managers have used various techniques to make sure that equipment doesn’t overheat but at the same time, the energy bill doesn’t break the budget. These techniques include installing blanking panels in open areas (thus blocking off the unused space to force the cold air through the equipment), organizing the mass of wires at the back of servers (the hot exhaust will hit the mess of cables and you won’t get the appropriate cubic-feet-per-minute of airflow through the server), and using spot cooling to keep the air temperature around the server rack within a good range (using piping that provides a conduit for cold air to flow near the server racks)

Bring In More Power – contract power from more than one utility company. This, and the use of backup generators, ensures that if the power supply is running low or even there is the threat of a blackout, power will still be flowing to your systems.

But keep in mind not to go too crazy with the cooling options. As Jack Pouchet, Director of Energy Initiatives at Emerson Network Power said, “Data centers are their own ecosystems. Little tweaks here and there may not seem like much, but at some point, if you go over a certain threshold, you may see unintended consequences that can be painful.

Now that your systems are cool, you’ll want to make sure your users aren’t feeling the heat either. Luckily, the internet has some solutions for that: 

Image via (Left: Reddit, mtarlo111; Right: Reddit, MJFP13)

Absolutely genius... your users will thank you.

If you’re looking to avoid the heat, cool off with one of our recorded webinars!

Information for this blog came from:
Get IT Done: Strategies for keeping systems cool during summer heat” By Brien Posey (June 3, 2003), “System Cooling 101: Ten Easy Ways to Keep Your System Cool” via, “9 Heat Wave Hacks You're Doing Wrong” By Christine Erickson (July 16, 2013), and “Why Keeping the Data Center Cool Is Important” By Alan Joch (July 13, 2012).