Shark Tank: In the meantime, who's up for a snowball fight?

This pilot fish at a Southern university is working on a big system upgrade that's guaranteed to increase the cooling requirements for the converted classroom now serving as a computer room.

"The university operations folks came in and did a complete heat analysis," says fish. "They said, 'We can just put two window air conditioners in this outside wall, and we won't have to replace the expensive, under-the-floor computer room cooling system that is already in place.'"

So they do. And the window units do cool things down. But they also remove humidity from the air -- in an environment that's supposed to be kept at a steady 50% humidity.

"Then the existing under-the-floor system dutifully went into humidify mode, which lowered its cooling ability while it pumped water into the air," says fish.

But then the extra humidity starts freezing on the window units' cooling coils -- and eventually coats them so heavily with ice that they're useless for cooling or dehumidifying.

"Since the humidity would then stabilize, the under-the-floor system would stop putting water back into the air," says fish. "Then the window systems would thaw out.

"Things would wobble back and forth like this over the course of the day. The room temperature fluctuated wildly and was never as cool as it was supposed to be."

But that's not the worst of it. "When the window air conditioning systems would start to thaw out from all the ice they generated, the air pressure would blow bits of ice into the computer room," fish says. "Some of it would land inside the tape drives that were near the outside wall."

And after the first service call, the tape drive vendor rep tells fish and his cohorts that his product isn't rated for use in the same room as an ice storm.

"He insisted that we turn off the tape drives while the ice was flying, making the whole computer system unusable for long periods of time," fish reports.

Which finally convinces the powers that be that the blizzard-generating window units aren't working, says fish. "They installed a real computer room system -- the way they should have originally."

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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