Over the last decade, fiber optics have entered our offices, public spaces, and homes, rapidly becoming the preferred form of high-speed network data transmissions. These fiber optic cables are faster, safer, and more cost-effective for enterprise or business networks, making them preferred components.
However, proper installation and maintenance of fiber optic cables, components, and network equipment are crucial for a high-speed, high-performance business network. Hence, we always recommend consulting expert professionals like those at Communications Solutions Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida, for all your fiber optics installation and business network solutions.
Nearly all business network owners and fiber optic installers agree that dirty, contaminated fiber connectors and damage on the ferule end face cause network failure. These issues result in poor signal transmissions or connection failures that cause problems.
Hence, cleaning your fiber connectors is crucial when installing or maintaining a fiber optic business network.
Cleaning Your Fiber Connectors
When cleaning your fiber connectors, there are a few key things to consider, like the type of connector, cleaning solution, and cleaning procedure. Let’s start by discussing the two main cleaning procedures.
This is the most basic procedure to clean fiber connectors and ferule end-faces. With dry cleaning, you wipe the end face against a clean, dry cloth in a single direction. This single motion can remove dust, dirt, or airborne contaminants from the end face, thus cleaning your fiber connectors.
A dry clean is the primary cleaning method and should always be your first attempt in every fiber-cleaning situation. The best way to dry clean fiber connectors is to use push-type fiber cleaners or reel-type fiber cleaners. We will further discuss these types of cleaning solutions later in this article.
The other procedure for cleaning fiber connectors is wet cleaning. You wipe the end face against a wet region before wiping it against a dry region to remove contaminants and any wet residue. Wet cleaning is slightly more harsh than dry cleaning, but it can remove dust, dirt, airborne contaminants, and grime or oil residue.
Wet cleaning shouldn’t be your first attempt to clean fiber connectors. Instead, you should dry clean, check the end face, and only wet clean if the end face is not clean after a dry clean. Most importantly, every wet cleaning attempt ends with a dry clean, a standard part of the wet clean procedure.
Important Note: The wet clean procedure should not be attempted on bulkheads or receptacles because it may damage the equipment. Only trained professionals should attempt wet cleaning these connectors.
The Cleaning Process
The fiber connector cleaning process is simple and easy to follow once you know the abovementioned procedures. Start by carefully inspecting the end face, preferably with a fiberscope. If it looks clean, you can connect it to the connector.
However, if it is not clean, you start with a dry clean and inspect the end face again. If it is clean, you can connect it to the connector, but if it’s not, proceed with a wet clean procedure (including dry clean at the end).
You repeat the wet clean procedure until the end face is clean and ready to be connected to the connector.
Important Note: Never connect a wet end face to the connector! The wet clean procedure always ends with a dry clean.
Types of Fiber Connectors
Fiber connectors terminate a fiber optic cable at both ends. Therefore, they greatly impact the performance and reliability of your business network and its data transmission capabilities. There are too many types of fiber optic connectors in the market to individually name and describe here.
However, the most common ones used worldwide in businesses and data centers are LC, SC, FC, ST, MU, SMA, MPO, MTRJ, etc. Some connectors are specifically designed to withstand harsh environments, thus preventing contamination better than others.
The type of fiber connectors you use for your business network will affect the cleaning solutions or tools you use to clean them. For example, while a typical reel-type fiber cleaner can dry clean most connectors, it may not be able to clean connectors with slightly inaccessible ferules.
Always consult professionals for the type of cleaning solutions/ tools that best suit your fiber optic cables and connectors.
Types of Cleaning Solutions
There are plenty of fiber connector cleaning solutions, including:
· Fiber Optic Cleaning Wipes
The most basic cleaning solution is fiber optic cleaning wipes. These wipes are non-abrasive and lint-free to properly clean end faces with minimal wipe repetition. You can use them on your fiber patch cords and optical jumpers to conveniently remove contaminants and keep things clean.
You can use them for dry or wet cleaning by adding fiber cleaning alcohol. Either way, these cleaning wipes ensure no scratches or residue on the end face.
· Fiber Optic Foam Swabs
These foam swaps are also lint-free and non-abrasive. They have a polypropylene handle to avoid corrosion and a soft polyurethane and polyester tip for cleaning. The tip is 2.5mm or 1.25mm in diameter to fit similarly sized fiber connectors. They are excellent for cleaning connectors and end faces.
· Push-Type Fiber Cleaners (Pen Cleaners)
Push-type fiber cleaners are convenient cleaning solutions for quickly removing dirt, dust, grime, and contaminants from fiber optic adaptors. Modern push-type cleaners are typically “one-push” cleaning solutions, which means you simply push a pen-style cleaner in an adaptor once to clean it effectively.
· Reel-Type Fiber Cleaners (Cassette Cleaners)
Reel-type fiber cleaners are perhaps the most common, effective, and versatile fiber cleaning solution. They can clean almost all fiber connectors, especially those with accessible ferules. You fasten the connector on the “cassette” cleaner and wind the “reel” to wipe clean the ferule end face.
It is great for removing dust, debris, oil, etc., and works well on many connector types, making it the ideal cleaning solution for most business network owners.
We hope you learned about cleaning your fiber connectors, including dry and wet cleaning procedures. While you should have no trouble learning about the type of fiber connectors you currently use, you may need help getting the best cleaning solution for those connectors.
Most importantly, cleaning or maintenance of sensitive fiber optics is sometimes best left to professionals. So, we strongly recommend the expert professionals at Communications Solutions Inc. for all your fiber connector cleaning solutions, fiber optic installation, cleaning, maintenance, and business network solutions in Florida.
Contact Us today to learn more about cleaning your fiber connectors or the best business network and fiber optic solutions in Florida.