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How to keep your Mission Critical assets water free, and avoid thousands in outage costs

Roof Monitoring for Data Centers

When it comes to your most important assets, you want to protect them to the best of your ability. In this case, these assets are mission critical yottabytes of data, stored in either a data center, a colocation center, or your own mission critical facility.

But why is it so important to monitor these assets? The answer: costs, and liability. Since 2010, downtime costs from data center outages have risen by 38%, with the cost of an outage averaging around $750,000, (per outage). Even for a mere couple minutes of data center outage, caused by a small roof leak, the cost of repairing, replacing hardware, possible loss of data, and general liability greatly outweighs the cost of putting in proper preventative measures. According to Data Center Frontier, it is predicted that the global colocation market will expand from $25.7 billion (2015) to over $54 billion (2020). This means that these colocation facilities will be managing more and more data, with ever increasing liability.

This graph outlines the root causes of unplanned outages:

The Root Causes of Unplanned Data Center Outages

Currently, environmental threats account for two of the top five root causes of unplanned data center outages. The biggest threats are flooding/leaks, humidity, and fire. Leaks, even in the smallest form, can be detrimental to facilities, and can come from anywhere: roof leaks, facility piping, window leaks, sprinkler leakage, CRAC failure, traditional overland flooding, intentional sabotage, and more. As well, in these controlled high humidity levels, the building enclosure detailing could lead to internal condensation and further moisture threats.

With roofs being one of the most important aspects of any shelter, and to the safety of interior assets, they are a huge contributor to water intrusion. In fact, 40% of all building problems are caused by water intrusion usually sourced at the roof. Often the root case is faulty details or hidden damage from the construction process. This leads to a leak occurring at a seam or other intrusion, leading to a roof's asset lifetime and durability being cut in half.

Even with convention low-slope primary membrane patched as intact, the latent water and moisture collected in these roofs can have even more detrimental damages than just interior leakage. GAF Roofing Systems outlines these damages as reduced thermal resistance and strength loss in insulation, adhesive, cover board, and fasteners. These damages can then lead to wind uplift damage, foot traffic/hail crushing, and weakening and blistering of the actual membrane.

How can you prepare for and prevent roof damages and therefore leakage threats?

In order to protect your mission critical data, you need to start by protecting the most important aspect of your building: the roof.

At SMT, we provide full solutions for mission critical facilities from building construction through ongoing monitoring. By using cloud based systems through remote sensors, the parameters we measure in your building structure and building envelope include: moisture, crack movement, differential pressure, window performance, and external environmental conditions. With these sensors, data is gathered over time showing the performance of the building, and the existence of any moisture and when it happened.

During construction, SMT works to prevent leaks by scanning your roof membrane for holes with our DigiSCAN 360° Services. By using Digital Electric Field Vector Mapping techniques to determine the location of a leak, even the smallest membrane breach can be located for repair on inverted roofs and waterproofing membranes. Through utilizing our DigiSCAN 360° during construction, your facility would be working towards true data center risk mitigation, from the very beginning of the structure life.

For a more permanent leak detection system, FutureCast Active, a roof membrane monitoring system where moisture detection sensor tape is installed in a grid and around intrusions on the dry side of your membrane, or in lengths. The system can be applied to conventional, inverted low slope, and sloped roof systems with concrete, metal or wood roof support systems. By installing a long term system to the roof of your data center, it assures for accurate moisture monitoring and elongates the membranes life, by letting you see and prevent unknown damage as it happens. Given that the roof covers the most precious data assets, and that data centers have a long asset life, it is imperative to install a long term monitoring system to prevent any future breaches and see long term trends.

SMT also provides solutions for leak detection inside the building. By installing Moisture Detection Tape, building managers will be able to detect when any threat of moisture arises before it becomes detrimental. Through strategically placing moisture sensors by CRAC units, on the lowest point of the floor, and by any pipes, you can react faster, with greater awareness, preventing a disaster before it happens.

For more information of SMT’s flood and moisture protection systems, click here.

Are you already using structure monitoring system for your mission critical center? Let us know - or let us know why not. Tweet us @smtresearch or email us at

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