Case Studies – Temporary Climate Solutions

Data center pipe break threatens equipment

“It’s hard to imagine $100 million of computer equipment; but should you stand at one end of our computer center, you can barely see the other side.” That’s how Ted Turner, Hewlett Packard facility manager, described the new Atlanta operations center.

The center houses Central Processing Units and data storage systems for Hewlett Packard operations throughout the US, Canada, and South America. HP uses servers in the field to access the center. If the Atlanta facilities go down, Hewlett Packard loses its computer capability. Beyond that, the HP Atlanta Center also does networking for major companies throughout the United States. HP officials estimate that the Atlanta facility supports $22 billion of HP business. “These customers look to HP for continuous service. They expect us to be operational… period,” said Turner.


All of HP’s Atlanta computer center business was jeopardized by one four-inch water main break on the 7th floor. When several days of single-digit temperatures caused it to freeze and blow off an end plug. In just twenty-five minutes vast amounts of water poured down walls and through ceilings, threatening the key computer operation areas. Water was trapped under elevated floors and in cable runs. In some cases, water had “rained” from above onto the equipment.

Initially, HP had contacted a cleaning company to remove the water and try to dry it out of the facility. However, HP officials quickly discovered that the cleaning company could not handle the severe water damage.  Sensing that more help was needed Turner called on the construction company that had built the building for advice, who pointed him to Polygon.

“I was concerned that the effects of high humidity would be ruinous to our delicate electronics. We had lost four hours of operation to the flood, but that was insignificant compared to the threat of extensive equipment failures that could result from corrosion,” said Turner.


When the Polygon emergency team arrived at Hewlett Packard, they were immediately responsible for two of the three affected levels. The first goal was to establish temporary humidity control throughout the water-damaged areas to thwart any possibility of corrosion to the computer electronics. Corrosion, even microscopic corrosion to delicate electronic circuitry, cannot occur if relative humidity is kept below 45%. In severely water-damaged environments. For the soaked HP building shell, Polygon created a “blanket of dry air” around the affected equipment to prevent corrosion. To do this, Polygon used desiccant dehumidifiers that replace the saturated air with extremely dry air.

Large equipment was set up to work centrally and was supplemented with smaller dehumidifiers to address specific concerns. After repairing the damage on two levels, Polygon was asked to restore the third level, as well.

Four days after the flood, HP retained independent consultants to evaluate the vulnerability of the computers. The consultants validated that Polygon’s “blanket of dry air” approach had stabilized the environment and taken the computer systems out of danger. Our new facilities were salvaged by drying, but what was truly significant is that our computers kept operating without failures. You can bet that they have been formally written into all of Hewlett Packard’s disaster plans!”


Economic Advantages

Drying after water damage will reduce your recovery costs by 30% to 70%. Drying saves structural elements, greatly reducing the need to rip out and replace building materials, sheet rock, and utilities.

Shorter Disruption

In many cases, drying can occur without vacating the property. While thorough drying of a water- damaged building may take one week or longer, many interiors are dry enough to resume use within 48 hours. This eliminates the major inconvenience and significant cost of a temporary relocation.

Avoid Microbiological Problems

A water-damaged building must be thoroughly dried to suppress the growth of mold and mildew. Fungi spores are found everywhere and require only the presence of moisture and warm temperatures to grow. This growth will rapidly lead to odors, unsightly stains and in many cases a health hazard. Microbiological studies, conducted at sites dried by Polygon, have repeatedly shown that desiccant drying controls fungi growth, eliminating problems.

Minimize damage by monitoring buildings for water leaks and excessive humidity. Explore Polygon Remote Monitoring and Control services. 

“Polygon did a terrific job! I had recovery costs of about $120,000 of which Polygon services were $45,000 Polygon saved our new facilities by drying…and kept our computer center operating without failure.”

Ted Turner, Facility Manager at Hewlett Packard