Do you know how important is to maintain a fiber connector clean? In fact, having a clean eviroment for the connector is one of the most important procedures in the conservation of a fiber optic system. This is necessary to keep quality connections.
If any particle of dust, lint, oil or any other dirt get on the end of the connector, this will interrupt the correct function of the signal that is being sent over the fiber.
An improper maintenance of the cables can also cause other problems such as scratching the glass surface, instability in the laser system, and a misalignment between the fiber cores.
So, the questions is: What to do to clean my fiber optic? Simple:
Before beginning all the process, make sure the cable is disconnected from both ends and turn off any laser sources. Don’t forget to wear safety glasses and check the connectors before you clean them.
Step 1: Inspect the fiber optic connector, component, or bulkhead with a fiberscope.
Step 2: If the connector is dirty, clean it with a dry cleaning technique. This procedure consists of using a reel-based cassette cleaner with medium pressure, wipe the connector end face against a dry cleaning cloth in one direction. This step must be done in both parts of the fibre optic and can be repeated at least two times.
Step 3: If the connector is still dirty, clean it with a wet cleaning technique followed immediately with a dry cleaning in order to ensure no residue is left on the end face. You can use a special solution for fibre optic or 91% Isopropyl Alcohol. Wipe the end face against the wet area and then onto a dry area to clean potential residue from the end face.
Wet cleaning is more aggressive than dry cleaning, and will remove airborne contamination as well as light oil residue and films.
Similar to the dry cleaning method, this one, can be done twice if you consider that the fiber optic isn’t clear yet.
Here's a video offered by FIBERONE that can help you more to clean your fiber optic cables.
IMPORTANT: The end face of the connector should never be touched during the cleaning process and also the clean area of a tissue should not be touched or reused.
The fiber end should be inspected with a fiberscope of at least 200x magnification, and if it is contaminated, it should be cleaned with one of the methods explained before.
DO’s and DON’Ts when it comes to cleaning a Fiber Optic:
- Turn off any laser sources before you inspect fiber connectors, optical components, or bulkheads.
- Make sure that the cable is disconnected at both ends and the card or pluggable receiver is removed from the chassis.
- Wear the appropriate safety glasses when required in your area. Be sure that any laser safety glasses meet federal and state regulations and are matched to the lasers used within your environment.
- Inspect the connectors or adapters before you clean.
- Use the connector housing to plug or unplug a fiber.
- Keep a protective cap on unplugged fiber connectors.
- Store unused protective caps in a resealable container in order to prevent the possibility of the transfer of dust to the fiber. Locate the containers near the connectors for easy access
- Discard used tissues and swabs properly.
- Use alcohol or wet cleaning without a way to ensure that it does not leave residue on the end face. It can cause damage to the equipment.
- Look into a fiber while the system lasers are on.
- Clean bulkheads or receptacle devices without a way to inspect them.
- Touch products without being properly grounded.
- Use unfiltered handheld magnifiers or focusing optics to inspect fiber connectors.
- Connect a fiber to a fiberscope while the system lasers are on
- Twist or pull forcefully on the fiber cable.
- Reuse any tissue, swab, or cleaning cassette reel.
- Touch clean area of a tissue, swab, or cleaning fabric.
- Touch any portion of a tissue or swab where alcohol was applied.
- Touch the dispensing tip of an alcohol bottle.
- Use alcohol around an open flame or spark; alcohol is very flammable.
Ed Forrest is one of the most specialized professionals in the Fiber Cleaning topic. He's written a number of books and ebooks on fibre cleaning.
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