Corrosion on circuit boards

Corrosion on circuit boards

An MNC was facing an unusually high rate of breakdowns of their servers in one of their data-centres. This was caused by a high amount of corrosion in their silver and copper connections. The OEM manufacturer mentioned that the warranty was voided as the equipment was not maintained in a G1 environment. That is when the company reached out to us to get this issue fixed.

During our inspection, we found a significant amount of corrosion on the circuit boards, similar to the pictures below.

Absolute Moisture

There are several important factors to consider in establishing a safe environment for server operations.

Absolute Moisture sometimes called micro condensation

  • Temperature
  • Air Flow
  • AC operations, including compressor operations and makeup air
  • Active airborne contaminants
  • Chemical filtration
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Solid Contamination
  • If the air quality inside the server rooms is not adequately controlled, the fluctuating temperatures,

    humidity along with harmful gases such as NOx and Sox create an environment conducive to rapid corrosion of the contact points in the circuit board. This corrosion, in turn, causes failures in the server operations.

These contact points are typically made of copper and silver. Hence, all OEMs require a G1 class environment which makes corrosion a non-factor.


To determine the cause/s, we conducted a thorough visual observation of the entire building. We noted the following:

  • Highway in front and flanked with open flood water drains
  • Centrally Air Conditioned building with adequate pressurization.
  • Fresh air intake 10-micron filter through a TFA.
  • Server rooms cooled by split AC under negative Air Pressure as compared to rest of the Building.
  • Server rooms connected with open vertical shafts to carry cables across the floors
  • Wet mopping of server floor was done day and night using bleach, which is a strong hypo chloride and catalyst causing a build-up of sulphide.
  • Outdoor readings of PM2.5 and PM10 were way above the norms.
  • The SOx/NOx and TVOC in ambient were also high.

We concluded that the fresh air intake was bringing in the air with a high concentration of SOx and NOx originating from the flood water drain and highway traffic emissions. As the server rooms were negatively pressurized, these contaminants entered the server room and caused the corrosion.

We proved the same by:

  • Measuring IAQ parameters
  • Pressure Differential reading between the server room and the rest of the Building
  • Reactivity monitoring using copper/silver coupons.

After identifying the source of the problem, we rectified the issue by doing the following:

  • The server rooms were bought under positive pressure by connecting it to a precision air handling unit equipped with particulate and chemical filters.
  • All open shafts and room leaks were sealed.
  • A 24×7 air monitoring system installed looking at parameters like temp, Humidity, SOx, NOx, TVOC, PM2,5/10 and air pressure differential gauge for the room.
  • Housekeeping practices were altered to control particulate matter from getting airborne and frequency and use of chemicals in wet moping controlled.

Thus, we reduced the incidence of breakdowns from corrosion and helped our client avoid a potential huge monetary loss for the server replacements and any associated downtimes.

If you observe an unusual failure rate in your electronic equipment, you can reach us at We would be happy to do a diagnosis and provide solutions to address your indoor environmental issues.

Contributed by: S Parker

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