Fiber Optics Cleaner 101:
Cleaning fiber optic is a subject that has been unfairly overlooked. Since dirty connections are essentially the main cause of problems and failures in Telecom installations, the lack of that practice could translate into negligence.
The Telecom sector is facing a demanding and unprecedented challenge due to the coronavirus crisis: now more people than ever rely on high-speed Internet connections. This situation leads to an overwhelming increase in consumption. In other words, Telecom professionals need to guarantee reliable and robust connections, and that can only be possible with clean connectors and end faces.
Cleaning Fiber Optic is more complex than what is commonly imagined. This calls for a solid understanding of the whole process so that it can be performed appropriately. In this blog post, we will explain the intricacies of cleaning fiber as well as the importance of having clean connectors.
A Clean System Is A Top-Notch System
Fiber Optic installers are well aware that having clean connectors and end faces allow for a high-level performance in networking systems. The premise is simple: the core of Telecommunications lies on the passage of information. Anything that compromises that transmission of data should be avoided at all times. Hence, the need for having clean systems.
Cleanliness in Telecom installations also helps you reduce costs that are associated with potential interruptions of transmission: problems in Internet connections nowadays could equal disastrous losses. On the other hand, pieces of equipment that are dirty or contaminated tend to last less than their expected lifetime, so the risk of turning useless too soon is high. Keep in mind that those pieces typically belong to systems, meaning that they are linked to other devices, so just one element that has not been cleaned could damage the rest of the entire connection.
The other significant aspect to consider in regards to having clean systems is that the earlier you establish the habit of cleaning connectors early amongst your Telecom professionals, the smaller the likelihood of having problems in the future, since dust and debris tend to gather over time and the consequences can only be felt when it’s too late.
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Cleaning fiber connectors and end faces should be a consistent task -so it should become a habit. As with all habits, you need to have a clear protocol before actually implementing it. At the end of the day, if you manage to do something repeatedly and it is not properly done, then it might do more harm than good.
Start with the surroundings. Lots of people think that you should only focus on the pieces that you will clean. However, you should also take a look at the environment in which your systems are placed.
Make sure the cleaning items are clean. Touching directly a particular end face or connector should be done carefully. One might think that by just covering them with a cleaning cloth may be enough, but one might not be sure about that cloth being actually clean. That end face or connector might be already clean but if it has been in touch with a dirty cloth, then you are putting it in risk of contamination.
Avoid static. Pay attention to the materials and textures of the cleaning tools. Cleaning basically consists of the interaction of at least a couple of elements. This causes friction, which could also lead to the generation of static electricity: one of the worst enemies of any Telecom system.
Do not trust what may seem clean on the outside. A dust cover, which has been designed to protect the fiber source, could also be a generator -or keeper- of dirt or dust. They may look clean on the outside, but its interior could be contaminated, so make sure you take a look inside of them to check if you need to clean that area.
Inspecting: As Important As Cleaning
Before rolling your sleeves to clean, you need to determine what needs to be cleaned. Taking a detailed and deep look at the installation should be enough, but remember that human eyes can only reach so far, so you need the assistance of more advanced tools -like a video microscope or a handheld fiber microscope.
Do not forget that inspection also needs to be done after cleaning. The downside of doing something repeatedly is that it usually turns into a mechanical thing, meaning something that we take for granted that has been done promptly. Checking elements after being cleaned adds effectiveness to the whole process.
Several tools are available to help you inspect fiber, and the main types are optical and video. Optical microscopes are employed to perform a direct inspection of end-faces, while video inspectors usually comprise a small optical probe that is connected to a handheld display.
Inspections provide Telecom professionals with another benefit: they are generators of information, since they can show items or connections that are damaged, flawed or on the verge of turning defective. There is an additional benefit to inspecting: it displays the end faces without having to reach them and touch them.
Wet Cleaning: The Other Form of Cleaning
Regular Fiber cleaning at times may be insufficient. This is where “wet cleaning” comes handy and this one consists of using wipes and solvents to clean end faces and connectors. Notwithstanding, you need to make sure that the liquid in those solvents is free of lint and that the clothes can absorb all of the unwanted contaminants.
People mistakenly assume that wet cleaning asks for a lot of interaction between the wipe and the connector, but actually a couple of strokes is just enough. These should be gentle, since extra pressure may hurt the cleaned area. Too much liquid can also be contraproducent, since the excess can also damage the surfaces. Remember that cleaning wipes are disposable, so you need to discard them after you use them.
Cleaned Fiber Means Better Fiber
Cleaner fiber guarantees fewer losses and prevents potential failures, which leads to improvement in both the performance and lifetime of the connectors, end faces and components of your Telecom systems.
In Beyondtech, we design, build and distribute first-class Telecom solutions. In our catalog we have a series of cleaning tools that will enhance the performance of your fiber optic devices, so feel free to go to our website and check them out. We would be happy to assist you!