A UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is not a new way to protect your data center against power failure. The UPS has stood the test of time, adapting and advancing to meet modern needs, because it is one of the best ways to invest in your data center’s ability to maintain uptime and continue operations as normal. If you have not yet invested in a UPS system for your data center, we highly advise that you consult an experienced UPS installer to get a system installed as soon as possible. Once a UPS system is installed, the next most important thing you can do is ensure that it is routinely maintained. Proper UPS maintenance is one of the best ways to ensure that if you do have a power failure, your data center is protected from downtime.
5 Critical UPS Maintenance Tips
1. Create a UPS Maintenance Schedule & Checklist
UPS maintenance is not something that can only be done all at once, once or twice per year. Routine maintenance on a consistent schedule protects against deteriorating or failed UPS components going unnoticed until it is too late. Certain components may only need hands-on maintenance once or twice per year but other components of your UPS system may need quarterly maintenance. Create a detailed schedule outlining what specific areas need to be inspected, cleaned, or otherwise maintained.
Then, using the UPS maintenance schedule as a guide, create a checklist of what exactly needs to be performed so that there is complete transparency of who is assigned to a particular task and what all needs to be done to complete that task. This step will lead us to our next step and why it is important.
2. Don’t Neglect Visual Inspection
In a data-driven industry, it can be easy to simply want to look at and rely on the data to determine how a UPS system is functioning. But, when it comes to UPS maintenance, a visual inspection should never be neglected! TechTarget elaborates on comprehensive visual UPS inspection, “Periodic visual inspections are some of the most important steps you can take to keep your UPSes healthy. You can perform a partial visual inspection and look at the unit’s exterior, but a fully comprehensive inspection includes an internal component examination. Doing so, however, can expose you to dangerous electrical currents. Such inspection should, therefore, only be performed by qualified individuals, such as an electrical engineer, facility electrician or a third party. For a partial visual inspection, look for any buildup of dust or dirt. Dust can clog device vents and cause them to overheat. The inspection should also include a battery assessment. Look out for any signs of corrosion, leakage or swelling, as these are indicators that the batteries need replacement. It is also a good idea to check the alternating current input and output capacitors, as well as the direct current filter capacitors. The capacitors should be clean and not show any signs of cracking or swelling. During a visual UPS maintenance inspection, don’t only use your eyes. You should also listen for unusual sounds and pay attention to abnormal smells; either could indicate the presence of a hardware problem.”
3. Keep Records of Performed Maintenance
Utilizing the checklists, keep detailed records of not only what tasks were completed, but how they were completed, if anything was noticed on visual inspection that should be monitored, when maintenance happened, etc. This will help in the future if there are ever power failures or other problems and more information about your UPS system’s history is needed.
4. Watch Your UPS Batteries Closely
When a UPS system fails during a power emergency, it is most often because you have a problem with your UPS battery. Routine maintenance will help you stay on top of your UPS battery health and functionality. The goal of maintenance is to keep an eye on any changes happening to a battery, how well it discharges, and ultimately collect the data to help anticipate when it might fail so that you can pre-emptively change it. It is a delicate balance because you want to maximize your investment in your UPS system and use it for as long as possible but you also don’t want to push it and risk failure, as Data Center Knowledge points out, “UPS batteries are normally able to provide several years of service, “operating reliably even through repeated charging and occasional use while supporting critical loads,” according to the report. But just like any battery, they have a regular lifecycle. ‘The key challenge is to know when your batteries are nearing the end of their life expectancy and to be able to replace them before you get into a situation — such as a complete power outage — where they fail to protect the load,’ Vertiv explains.”
While a UPS battery comes with an expected lifespan, that does not mean that it can predict when it will fail. Battery lifespan is determined by testing a battery under perfect conditions – perfect temperature, perfect humidity, etc. But, as we all know, batteries never exist in a vacuum and no data center is perfect. Batteries are subjected to inconsistent temperatures, humidity, moisture, and other factors the may shorten the lifespan of a battery. Because of this, a visual inspection of batteries should be performed routinely to see if there are any visible problems. Additionally, batteries should be tested to make sure they can discharge at full capacity when needed.
5. When in Doubt, Invest in a Professional UPS Maintenance Service
Your UPS system is your primary protection for your critical facility against unexpected power failure. For this reason, it is essential that your UPS system is routinely maintained. But, not all data centers and mission-critical facilities can or want to oversee UPS maintenance. When this is the case, it is important that a UPS maintenance service provider is hired so that important UPS maintenance does not get neglected. Whether you have weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual professional UPS maintenance, having another set of eyes that specializes in UPS systems can be extremely helpful in protecting your data center against UPS failure.