Where did all the water go?

  • My first two jobs were with aerospace government contractors. At the first  I routinely got blamed for Something I did. At the second, we had a whole different kind of setup.

    Next to our cubicle farm, there was a computer room. It's floor was raised above our raised floor. While our office had building-A/C, the computer room had it's own dedicated A/C. Unfortunately, it was a window A/C unit, and was plugged into the building power supply. The computers had their own UPS. This meant that whenever they shut down the building supply on the weekends to do maintenance, all the computers fried.

    After several iterations of this, senior management decided enough was enough and that our computer room was going to have proper environmental control systems. To this end, they bought a heater/humidifier/fan/A-C unit that was about 10 feet long, 6 feet high and three feet deep. It had its own water supply to humidify, and drains to take off water during A/C and dehumidification. It also had gas lines to power the internal blast furnace. There was also a dedicated UPS to keep it running. Of course, there was another identical setup right next to it with independent power, water and drainage, just in case. Our computer room was going to stay at the proper temperature and humidity, no matter what.

    Computer circuits work better when they're kept somewhat cold, in this case, about 55F. And so we'd bring in our jackets on 90F days so we wouldn't freeze in that room. Things were going well... until...

    Routine maintenance was being done on the roof, and while the room was always covered, most of the insulation above the computer room was temporarily stripped out. Naturally, this occurred during a heat wave. This triggered both A/C units to start blasting away, attempting to cool and dehumidify what was essentially the outside atmosphere. Since they could not keep up with the onslaught, they were running at full blast.

    About a week later, some maintenance guy noticed that while water had been pouring out of both dehumidifiers for days, nothing was coming out of the drain pipe at the other end. Uh oh!

    After pulling some random floor tiles, it was discovered that a not-so-small lake had formed under the raised floors and had spread half way across the building.

    The cause? During prior maintenance, someone forgot to screw one of the drain plug caps back on.

  • Personally, I was waiting for a "the computers still fried" ending.

  • @begariotheking said:

    I was waiting for a "the computers still fried" ending.

    The A/C actually put a stop to that problem.

    We did like to mess with the early morning folks on Mondays by setting the humidity down to 10% and the thermostats down to about 40 on Friday night.

    It was well within the specs of the computers, but it made it unbearable in the room for humans.


  •  I'm kind of surprised the ACs didn't seize up after running at full blast for several days.

  •  I'm suprised that such a complex A/C setup doesn't allow you to set limits, rather than just fixed values for temp and humidity. Last time I looked, our A/C doesn't kick it until the temperature goes above 65F, but doesn't try to heat unless it falls below 50F. Humidity values were between 20 and 35%. Any values between those are considered normal. Of course, there are rules to ensure we don't get sweeps of thermal cycles.

    There are people that complain of course, but most of the important staff don't mind those temperatures, and so are happy to work in there usual office clothing (which for IT staff is usually T shirt, jeans and rfid security pass around the neck). 

  •  They sound like Liebert aircons, which in my experience will stop running shortly after the building falls down around them. A week straight shouldn't be a problem.

     FWIW, those temperatures are outside the ASHRAE guidelines, but A) almost no one follows them, or even knows about them, and 😎 I'm not sure what time period this story takes place, so no idea if they existed then.

    I do recall a funny story involve 2 Leiberts, with full humidify/dehumidify options, in a single 700 or so square foot server room. One was set for 30% humidity, the other for 50%, and a tiny (Well, in comparison) little residental dehumidifier was set to "Very Dry". When the residental unity started leaking, the results were very similiar to yours.

  • @cdosrun said:

    ...time period...

    The computers were some horrific custom military pdp-11-like station circa 1984. I don't remember the brand of the cooling systems.

    This happened in the summer of 1986. The vendor used their capability of extended continuous cooling operation as a selling point. There were saftey cutoff switches if the runoff water didn't drain, but it was draining - under the floor.

    Interestingly, all the under-floor wires were raised, so there was no real damage.

  • @snoofle said:

    ...It's floor was raised...
    ...had it's own dedicated A/C...

    @snoofle said:

    ...It is floor was raised...

    ...had it is own dedicated A/C...

    FTFY </troll>

  •  So... you had a walk-in fridge and an indoors swimming pool? What are you complaining about?

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