January 16, 2020

How To Clean Up Your AV Rack

Save yourself the headache of sorting through components and wires with some simple tips.

What a difference you can make (image via Pinterest)

Many homes in the Peninsula region of the Bay Area have an AV rack. Especially those in Atherton or Hillsborough, with several rooms joining together in a single space to provide full home automation control. It’s a lot easier than you’d think to mess things up even with only a few components working together, as we all know how many wires a simple device can spew out of its backside. With a little time and effort, we can make sure none of that happens. Today we’ll go into organization 101 for your rack technology. Time to fix that server rack.

Messy server racks can be a headache that never goes away. Network issues can be easily avoided by cleaning up your rack.

Plan Ahead

This seems like a given, but it’s a lot easier to clean up your server area if you put it together properly in the first place. Avoid the hassle of fixing things in the long run and repairing damaged and overheated equipment by grouping and following the points in this article before you have to go back and redo them. It’ll save you a lot of time and hassle if you do it right from the start! The task may seem overwhelming, but it’ll fall together quite easy if you follow some simple tips. Always consult your local AV provider if you don’t know what you’re doing. Trust us, it’s better than the headache of thinking you know how to do a task this difficult — and ending up getting stuck with wires that you don’t know where they came from or where they need to go.

Label Your Things

This seems like a silly thing to say, but more often than not a ton of the mess from a server rack is not knowing the differences in your components, along with where they need to go. From those simple mistakes, the rack itself goes down the rabbit hole into a confusing disaster. Labeling each item and what it’s needed for, or any other purposes it may have, will save lots of time. Figuring out where possible issues may occur will become much simpler, and something as simple as unplugging the wrong thing. It’s best to get a professional to help organize and clean up a server rack, as they’ll know which items are best to group together on various shelves.

Tie Your Cables

Nobody likes wires. Cables and power plugs get in the way of everything. There’s no shortage of different cables that are needed for individual purposes. Unfortunately, we haven’t invented a way to bring wireless power to everything quite yet. For now, you’ll just have to learn how to group your cables together to avoid a tangled mess. Once all your components are properly labeled on their shelves however, it’s incredibly easy to simply zip-tie them together and keep them from turning into a frayed headache inducing mess. A perfectly cleaned up rack is always going to have its cables organized nicely together. This saves the headache later of trying to figure out if a lose wire is causing all the mischief around your home.

Imagine if these weren’t tied together. Spaghetti anyone?

Don’t Cram It All Together

You may think you should make the most of the space you have in your rack. That’s not a good idea. Sticking things too close to each other prevents ventilation, and you need all the air you can get to prevent dust from getting trapped in your fans and other components. Your equipment can literally melt into other items if it gets too hot as well, so be very sure that your components have space to breathe, as overheating is a very big issue when it comes to server rack faults that can cause issues around your home. Give your items at least three inches of space for proper breathing room. A crammed server rack has a much higher chance of getting very messy as well.

Dust Your Server!

This might seem like an unusual subject to add to an AV rack article, but it’s very important to do some housekeeping to your server. The components are very capable of overheating, some more than others. Save yourself the trouble of replacing overheated and melted components by keeping them clean on a regular basis. The rack doesn’t need to be constantly cleaned, but a quick dusting and wiping down every once in a while will make a huge difference.

Keep Things Cool

A portable AC unit is a good idea when it comes to maintaining a proper server rack setup (if it’s in a server room). The heat can get excessive due to the enclosed space and equipment, so to avoid meltdowns this is a very good investment to avoid further complications with your server rack. If a portable AC unit is not an option for the size of your setup, then fans that are placed well enough to cool down your setup should be a good alternate option. Even if you live in a cooler region (or somewhere with a lot of fog) the level of heat can be surprisingly high from where your server rack is located if not properly ventilated, and not to mention the heat that comes from your equipment.

How things are supposed to look

What Else?

When it comes to the delicate balance of your technology and wiring in an AV rack, a lot can go wrong. When it’s done right from the start, a lot less can happen that’ll cause you future headaches. Make sure you have a great AV provider that can help you set things up correctly, such as Regent5. The cost will be worth saving yourself the future payments you’d have to make for support issues. Make sure your server rack is in the right spot as well, as location can sometimes mean everything when none of your wires are able to reach their respective destinations.