4 Signs It's Time to Replace Your Computer Enclosure's Fan Filters

Posted by ITS Enclosures on Jan 10, 2018 2:04:24 PM

When installing thermal management on heavy-duty computer enclosures, filters are essential in keeping particulate matter away from sensitive and expensive electronics.  


Fan filters help keep oil, dust, dirt, fibers, and lint outside and away from the enclosure system. However, it is common for filter maintenance to be overlooked after deploying a computer enclosure. Depending on the environment, filters should be checked once or twice a month (or more) to ensure that proper air flow is being circulated throughout the cabinet. 

The good news: there are straightforward guidelines that you can follow to know (for sure) when a filter should be replaced.

1. The filter has reached its cleaning limit

When inside of an enclosure, most thermal management filters (fan systems, air conditioners, heat exchangers) can be washed and reused/recycled. Aluminum filters can be washed with simple dish soap and warm water, providing a clean slate for next month’s use. However, it is important to note that a filter will eventually deteriorate and reach a level that is uncleanable. If this occurs, throw it out and swap with a fresh, clean filter.

ITSENCLOSURES IceStation Filters for Filtered Fan System.jpg

2. The preventive maintenance schedule 

Five manufacturing plants with the same airborne particulates may all require different 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 and airborne oil will wreak havoc on the performance of fan filters and will quickly clog them, rendering them virtually useless. 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 a fan will cause the system to be inoperable at the intended capacity and will lead to faulty parts that require replacement – taking a hit on the yearly budget. 

4. The environment varies throughout the year

To help 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.

Find the sweet spot between replacing filters too often and not doing so often enough! It will be a ‘trial-and-error’ for your company to figure out how often to clean or replace. When the enclosures are first deployed, check and double check the fan filters every few days to make sure that air is getting through them properly. A dirty/grimy filter will hinder the thermal management process and could destroy electronics. Fan filters are not very expensive, so they should not be the reason that a computer, monitor, or printer cease to work. Downtime can be detrimental to the bottom line. Always remember, when it comes to filters - check and check often.

For More Information:

  -- Regular Maintenance on Thermal Management is Important!

  -- Determining the Difference Between Filter Fan Systems for Computer Enclosures

  -- It is Vital to Keep Electronics Cool Inside a Computer Enclosure

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Topics: Enclosure Thermal Management, Computer Enclosure