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Server caught fire!


bondisdead
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My Windows Home Server 2011 DIY computer caught fire early in the morning the other day. Good thing the fire alarm went off, and that we were home to take care of it. eek.gif

 

The fire was somewhat localized to a small area in the bottom of the case, so I was able to move the computer to the back yard and simply blow out the fire. There was alot of damage to cables, lots of ash and globs of melted plastic. The smell was terrible (and still is 3-days later). Anyways, I am trying to diagnose the problem to make sure that things don't repeat themselves (my wife is now skeptical about me rebuilding a new server and leaving it on all the time!).

 

The system was composed of a Corsair HX620 Modular PSU (620 Watts), which is about 5-years old. I have an ASRock H67 motherboard, Intel Core i3-2100T and 8GB of RAM. It's a headless computer, but it does have built-in Intel HD2000 graphics. It has eleven 3.5" hard-drives and two 2.5" hard-drives. When I look at the Kill-a-Watt, it typically uses between 100-130 Watts, depending upon what the server is doing at the time.

 

Fortunately, the motherboard / CPU / RAM boot up just fine, and all the hard-drives are also okay (albeat a bit black from the soot and melted plastic). I used a PSU tester on the HX620, and it tests out okay. I am afraid to use the PSU again on this motherboard, or another, for obvious reasons. There does not appear to be any damage to the PSU itself.

 

At this point, I am not sure what really caused the fire. At the end of one of the molex plugs, there was a Molex-to-SATA adapter, and it is completely melted into a large glob. This was not connected to anything. In addition, at the back of a Kingwin KF-4001-BK hard-drive cage where the SATA *data* cables connect, there is also a large melted glob of plastic. The fire either started at the Kingwin (which is on top of the case) or at the end of the unused Molex-to-SATA adapter (which is at the bottom of the case). If it started at the top, I am theorizing that melted plastic dripped down and started the fire at the bottom of the case. If it started at the lower unused Molex-to-SATA adapter, it spread up the case to the Kingwin. When I found the fire, it was only burning down below, and the top fire had already gone out. For the later case, the theory would be that the unused SATA connector had a crack and maybe an exposed power pin, which shorted to the case or itself. The server was really doing nothing at the time, and I had not made any changes to it for months.

 

I am wondering whether I was asking too much for this PSU to power all of those hard-drives, and perhaps some over-current/voltage condition sparked the fire? Five of the 3.5" drives were Hitachi CoolSpin green drives, three were Seagate Green LP drives and the remaining three 3.5" drives were Hitachi 7200RPM drives. There were two 2.5" laptop drives as well.

 

I was using all eight SATA connections, as well as most of the Molex connections via SATA adapters, two for the Kingwin SATA enclosure and the rest for powering case fans. It's hard to find the exact specs of how many Amps a hard-drive uses. It's most likely the worst at power-up, when all the drives are spinning up at once. But like I said above, this wasn't the case, as it was around 5am, outside of any backup windows.

 

Heck, I even got an email from the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver at 5:22am indicating that one of the RAID arrays was degraged! So there was a fire in the PC, which burned thru one of the SATA data cables, thus disconnecting one of the drives in my OS RAID-1 Array, yet the PC kepts going for a little while longer. LOL!

 

Here are the specs for the Corsair HX620: +3.3@24A,+5V@30A,+12V1@18A,+12V2@18A,+12V3@18A,-12V@0.8A,+5VSB@3A

 

The hard-drive is going to use +5V, which means 30 Amps. Recall no GPU is in the system. Seems like I should be safe, but perhaps the way the PSU's rail(s) are organized for the SATA/IDE outputs, maybe I had too much of a load on a single modular SATA or Molex dongle from the PSU? At the extreme, I might have had two fans, one 3.5" HDD and two 2.5" drives on a single dongle from the modular PSU.

 

Since all the hardware appears to be working (even all eight 3.5" 2TB drives in the HighPoint RocketRaid RAID-5 array), I was planning on rebuilding it. I would like to get rid of any Molex -> SATA adapters, if that was indeed the cause of failure. However, I cannot find any power-supply that isn't high-wattage that provides 12 SATA power connectors.

 

What are you data-hoarder folks with similar setups using for a power-supply? I don't want a 1000 Watt power-supply just to get the SATA plugs, when I am only going to be using < 200 Watt MAX ! This is particularly true for a 24/7 operation, where I would need to get a gold certified PSU to keep efficient high, and my power-bills low.

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The heck with the server...as long as the house is okay!

 

Specs in the signature line and I really don't have nearly as much data on line as some on here.

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The heck with the server...as long as the house is okay!

 

That went without saying! We were very lucky that: 1) the fire alarm went off, 2) we were home to hear the alarm, 3) we woke up to alarm, 4) fire was contained to just the computer, 5) it was easy to put the fire out, 6) server survived, and most importantly, 7) nobody got hurt!

 

My wife is now second guessing me re-rebuilding the computer, lol.

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A random short around a dusty here spells trouble. I'd write the company and see if they are willing to help to avoid nrgative feedback

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Here are some pics of the Kingwin hot-swap bay:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=D79AE54D402902BB!359&authkey=!AD7jrArckiPmIfA

 

And of some of the guts of the computer:

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=D79AE54D402902BB!372&authkey=!AN_3GlJb8BxkR4A

 

And yes, I have the server up-and-running on the bench, including the eight drives in RAID-5 on the RocketRAID. I am currently using a Corsair TX950 PSU. I need to figure out what to use in the long term, once I find a new home for the computer. The existing case just smells too bad and has too much melted plastic to re-use.

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Obviously the PSU is a goner. However, if you want to, you should be able to revive the chassis by using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and dish detergent to scrub out the carbon smell.

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First, the hard drives primarily use the 12V rail. The power supply you have uses a 12v multi-rail configuration which is not ideal for servers as servers tend to have allot of hard drives and draw more 12V which can cap one of the rails. Figure 2 amps per drives conservatively. I would go with a single rail 600 watt and that should take care of your power supply needs. You will have to add more connectors or use adapters/splitters. I have ran as much as 12 drives on a 600 watt supply with no problems. My existing servers both use a 600 watt cooler master which has 40a single rail 12v and it barely gets it excited. It sounds like one of your connectors touched some metal somewhere and fried a wire. PS will normally shut down if they are shorted however the item that shorts could do some damage, Glad to hear it was not too bad. I would definitely replace the PS though just to make sure.

 

 

http://thedocsworld.net/new-upgrades-for-my-main-server-box/

http://thedocsworld.net/server-upgradepart-1/

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Obviously the PSU is a goner. However, if you want to, you should be able to revive the chassis by using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and dish detergent to scrub out the carbon smell.

Only use this method on non-electrified components since the dish soap will leave a conductive residue.

If you want to clean the mobo/RAM/etc items (no moving parts), you can bathe them in 90% isopropal alcohol and use a clean toothbrush with light scrubbing to clean everything off.

Be careful because the solvent is flammable.

 

I've used large "freezer" ziploc bags to hold the components, then pour the alcohol in, seal, then shake to agitate. Worked fine for what I needed.

Just be sure to let the components air-dry for several days before attempting to power on.

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First, the hard drives primarily use the 12V rail. The power supply you have uses a 12v multi-rail configuration which is not ideal for servers as servers tend to have allot of hard drives and draw more 12V which can cap one of the rails. Figure 2 amps per drives conservatively. I would go with a single rail 600 watt and that should take care of your power supply needs. You will have to add more connectors or use adapters/splitters. I have ran as much as 12 drives on a 600 watt supply with no problems. My existing servers both use a 600 watt cooler master which has 40a single rail 12v and it barely gets it excited. It sounds like one of your connectors touched some metal somewhere and fried a wire. PS will normally shut down if they are shorted however the item that shorts could do some damage, Glad to hear it was not too bad. I would definitely replace the PS though just to make sure.

 

 

http://thedocsworld....ain-server-box/

http://thedocsworld....-upgradepart-1/

 

Thanks for the information, this is very excellent. I am definitely going to replace the power-supply. Even though it tested okay on a PSU tester, I am afraid to use it on any system. I explained to Corsair what happened, and that I was not sure that the PSU was indeed bad, but they told me to RMA it back to them regardless! Great company, and even greater customer service!

 

Unfortunately, I am still not 100% sure what happened. Either someting squirely at the back of the Kingwin 4-bay enclosure, or oen of the open Molex-to-SATA adapters developed a short to the case or something else. I suppose that the unused SATA power connector could have inadvertently "connected" to something on the case, thus causing the short. But not sure why it would have suddenly happened after all the months of operation without anything changing.

 

The replacement PSU will be a single rail 650 Watts. I am going to get another modular cable dongle that has four sata connectors, which means that I will have enough SATA to power twelve drives directly. That means no more potentially flaky adapters in the server!

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