In this article we cover the preferable running conditions for a mining rig, as well as how to clean a bitcoin ASIC miner. It is important to know how to perform preventative care so that the hashing performance is stable, and your miner’s lifetime is prolonged.
The first section covers daily operation tips, and ends with a list of suggested tools for running a miner. The second section covers cleaning, and we list some of the cleaning supplies you may need. We finish off with some basic troubleshooting tips, and how you can get in touch with a manufacturer or other miners for repairs or for help.
Daily Operation Tips:
A bitcoin miner needs to be monitored at least every couple hours.
What should you look for?
- the machine’s average hashing speed is within 5-10% of the stated specs
- the miner’s chip temperature is preferably between 70°-80°C (158°-176°F) to preserve the ASICs
- the ambient (room) temperature is 10°-30°C (50°-86°F) for optimal hashing
- the PCB (hash/control board) temperature is less than ~ 90°C (194°F), and all three hash boards do not differ more than 10°C (~20°F) from one another
- pool latency is low, and your submitted hashing speed matches the kernel log
- the electricity supply is stable and cables are not damaged
- the machine fans and the room ventilation is not obstructed
If there is a problem with one of these bullet points, you will need to troubleshoot. Sometimes doing a long reset (off for 2 minutes), or shifting a machine’s position to improve airflow can help. Other times an intensive investigation is required. We get into details about troubleshooting and repairs at the end of this article.
Here is more detailed information regarding running conditions:
When first installing a miner, or upon return from repair, check it over visually.
- Inspect for dents or damage
- Gently shake and listen for loose screws, heat sinks, or other components
- Check that no scraps are lodged in the fans, and they are complete, and run in the correct direction
- Feel for loose cables, and check that copper bars are not tilted or squished
- If you need to touch the electronics, wear antistatic gloves
- See that no warning lights come on when it is plugged in
- Double-check that your mining pool settings and IP are correct
Your miner’s cooling fans will need replacing at some point, and the original brand that your ASIC miner manufacturer use is recommended. Some miners choose to upgrade their fans to better quality to either dampen noise, or to better cool their machine, but note that this may affect the power consumption and efficiency. Further, to prevent overheating, do not replace a high speed fan with a lower speed fan.
Ventilation and Humidity
Bitcoin mining machines run hot. To improve heat dissipation, room fans and/or exterior ventilation can be added to a mining space. A dust screen/mesh on an intake vent can help to maintain clean air in your mining room, and keep bugs out. Whereas a wind cover/hood on an outlet vent prevents backdraft, and helps to maintain correct airflow. Just remember to inspect and clean ventilation systems regularly. On top of that, make sure that your ventilation does not allow rain or snow to come inside, like happened to the unfortunate miner in the tweet below.
Mining farms can also install negative pressure fans, and make separate hot and cold aisles to block the warm air from flowing back into the cooler air intake area. Some farms have cathedral builds, which pull cool air through the sides of the building, and push hot air up and through vents in the roof. Or, mining containers pull cool air directly through from one side to another.
Air conditioning is usually not cost effective as it is expensive to run. Instead, some miners use water curtains, but these systems are not fail-proof. They can consume a lot of water though evaporation, and filters can become clogged with dust and debris. Water curtains may also increase humidity levels.
High humidity can corrode a miner, causing pitting and bubbling on the metal surfaces. Optimal humidity is below 65%. Air recirculation or dehumidifiers can be used to tackle this issue. And, it is not recommended to run machines nearby the ocean where the salty air can eat away at hash boards.
Mining machines are noisy, around 70 dB when measured with a sound meter. Luckily though, bitcoin miners are very creative and innovative people when it comes to fixing noise issues.
For example, a miner silencer box can be constructed out of metal, wood, or even an ice chest. But be attentive to the machine’s temperatures when testing out a new miner box so that it does not overheat, and make adjustments accordingly. Soundproof insulation that is fireproof, like rockwool, could also be used to quiet a mining box or room.
Lastly, wear ear protection around running devices to protect your hearing.
Running miners in immersion fluid can dampen noise, as well as provide cooling, and keep the machines cleaner than when running on air. Immersion may also prolong a rig’s lifetime. Some miners have even managed to connect up home and swimming pool heating systems to immersed miners! You may find Telegram groups like Immersion Cooling Technology Talk to be very helpful if you wish to run an immersion setup.
But, this type of solution is not for everyone because it can be costly and demanding, and warranties become void. Immersion systems dissipate heat into a cooling chamber, so they can consume a lot of water, particularly in hot climates where the water evaporates quickly. Additionally, immersion fluids, especially mineral oil, may cause corrosion. Sulphurs, bubble patterns, and failed electrical grounding have been responsible for damage in research studies.
Bitcoin mining machine manufacturer Canaan is the only one who makes dedicated immersion cooling units and systems. Bitmain and MicroBT instead make hydro cooled units, like the Antminer S9 Hydro, S19 Pro + Hydro, and the WhatsMiner M53.
Reduce your fire risk by using non-flammable products in the vicinity of your machine. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and make sure that you have adequate ventilation. You should also regularly clean your bitcoin ASIC miner to prevent dust buildup which could catch fire. We will explain in the next section how to clean your ASIC bitcoin miner.
Furthermore, use fireproof electrical and network cables in your setup. Regularly check cables for aging and replace them as needed. You can also use an infrared thermometer to check that the temperature of the circuit breaker, cables, and power distribution unit (PDU) connectors are not greater than 70°C (158°F). Moreover, monitor the stability of your electricity supply as follows…
Make sure that you have the correct electrical setup before starting a mining operation. You will need to do your own research based on the model(s) you wish to run, and may need to hire an electrician to get started. And, a power supply should be around +20% higher than the specified power consumption of your miner.
On a daily basis you can use a multimeter to check that the voltage of the PDU socket is within the normal value of 220V±10%, to prevent instability or burnt cables. Also, if you have a three-phase ammeter, check that it does not deviate more that 15%. If the voltage is abnormal, contact an electrician.
Further, you should regularly check for electrical leaks from a miner. If you are receiving shocks from touching your miner or its power supply unit (PSU), it is likely that it is not properly grounded which may cause damage to the device. Bitmain has a guide about checking for grounding with a multimeter here. You should also check the voltage of your PSU with a multimeter, covered here.
Lastly, avoid power outages and surges which injure machines. This can be done by turning off your machines during storms, just in case, or by installing surge protectors. You should also power down your devices in steps, opposed to abrupt stops. Lastly, see to that your power outlets are not loose, hot, or damaged.
Isolate your miners by using a router, and use a static IP. This ensures security, and an adequate network speed. Many also use a VPN and/or TOR for obfuscation, yet this can create latency. Slow networks or high latency to the pool connection can cause fluctuations in your hash rate shares, and reduce your daily earnings. You can check your line speed by pinging the mining pool from the miner’s network diagnostics interface; it should be less than 100 milliseconds. If your speed is still slow, you can ask your mining pool for alternative Stratum addresses, or change your mining pool altogether.
Over-, Underclocking, and Autotuning
Bitcoin miners automatically adjust their fan speed. For example, if the machine is running hot, fans increase their RPM. Some mining machines even shutdown if the temperature is too hot or too cold, to protect it from damage. And, these stock fan speed and shutoff functions are the main reason that manufacturers warn against overriding a miner’s settings with third-party firmware.
Some machines have different power mode settings, found in the miner configuration setup. For instance, here is a description of Bitmain’s Low Power modes for their S9. Yet, a manufacturer’s under- and overclocking firmware changes the overall voltage to the miner. Whereas third-party firmware like Braiins, VNISH, and others can be used to autotune chips with more advanced settings, like reducing the voltage to a specific chain of chips.
Many miners find that autotuning is especially helpful for older machines to manage unstable ASICs, or for home mining. But, users must be aware that warranties will be void after installation of alternative firmware, chips could potentially be damaged from inappropriate power supply, and software may introduce viruses or syphon off some of your hash. Also, third-party firmware is not free, and it may present security issues.
Further, overclocking on air will eventually burn chips which can be very costly. Overclocking in immersion fluid, on the other hand, should be OK so long as chip temperatures remain low. So, as always, be sure to do your own research about firmware if you wish to use it. And, it is wise for your own peace of mind to use an electricity usage monitor, to double-check that the miner’s electrical draw at the wall plug matches what a firmware’s UI specifies.
Finally, third-party miner management software is also available for farms. For example, systems like Foreman.mn can help with remote controlling miners, automation, accounting, miner errors, and more.
Summary of Tools for Miner Operation
In summary, here is a list of some of the suggested tools discussed in this section that you may find useful for your mining operation, though you do not necessarily need everything on this list:
- anti-static gloves
- ear protection
- a sound/decibel meter
- soundproofing material is optional
- ventilation materials: ducting, vents, storm protection, dust filters, miner shrouds, etc.
- room fans and/or dehumidifiers
- an infrared thermometer, or a room thermometer
- a fire extinguisher and alarm
- extra cables and miner fans specific to your model
- installation of a PDU may be needed
- a multimeter, and maybe an ammeter
- a network cable and a router
- an electricity usage monitor/meter
- a computer to view the network, and your miner’s admin and kernel log
- voltage enhancing firmware from the manufacturer, or from a third-party is optional
Cleaning your Miner
Cleaning your miner regularly is really important. It increases your hash rate, improves efficiency, and reduces heat and fire risk. Keeping the machine clean should also help to preserve microchips and components, and extend your rig’s lifetime.
Try to clean your ASIC bitcoin miner monthly, or as needed depending on your air quality. You will be able to tell when it is needed because you can see visible lint, or because your average daily mining speed drops by more than 5%.
The best way to clean an ASIC bitcoin miner is to use a high pressure air compressor with air gun in interval bursts. This will blow out the accumulated dust from the chassis, hash boards, and fan blades. The air pressure range should be 0.7 ±0.05 MPa, see Bitmain’s guide here.
Generally, you do not need to dismantle the machine for basic monthly cleanings, unless your environment is humid and dust is hard to remove with just compressed air. In which case you can take out the hash boards and dismount the fans, and then gently brush them off with a dry antistatic brush.
Some miners use a vacuum on their mining rig, but this is not recommended as it may suck up, or loosen parts. Canned compressed air is also not suggested, because it contains water which could short-out a machine, or damage components over time.
It is also very important to keep your mining environment clean. Try to vacuum your mining area, and dust the surrounding surfaces often.
How-to Deep Clean an ASIC Bitcoin Miner
Sometimes your miner needs a deep clean – perhaps once or twice a year, again depending on the air quality of your operating environment. At mining farms and repair centres, ultrasonic cleaning machines for electronics are often used. Ultrasonic baths with flux solutions are also particularly good for immersion units, or to remove solder or residue deposits from a miner. Here is a video of a cleanup of an L3 hash board using an ultrasonic cleaner and a brush.
For home miners, hash and control boards can be manually rinsed with 99% isopropyl alcohol. Water is not used to clean miners, as it can leave behind salts and minerals which may cause short-circuits and damage your machine. Also, keep in mind that if your machine happens to accidentally get wet with rain water or other substances, you should bathe it with 99% isopropyl alcohol to remove any residue.
Below is a helpful video of how-to deep clean an S9 ASIC bitcoin miner. This process could be modified for all SHA-256 miner models.
Summary of Tools for Cleaning your Miner
In conclusion, for the monthly clean of your bitcoin ASIC miner we recommend the following tools:
- a high pressure air compressor with an air gun; the air pressure range should be 0.7 ±0.05 MPa
- antistatic gloves
- an antistatic soft brush
- a vacuum cleaner for the surrounding area, and dusting rags
- and remember to clean out your room ventilation filters/mesh, if used
Furthermore, an ultrasonic machine can help to deep clean your bitcoin ASIC miner, especially if you use immersion. Or, here is a list of the equipment required to manually deep clean a bitcoin ASIC miner like in the video above:
- Tools: a small dry antistatic brush and q-tips to remove stubborn dust, a Phillips screwdriver for dismounting the fans, a plastic tub and a cup for the bath, a net or strainer, a drying line and wire, cloths, and protective gloves.
- Substances: 99% isopropyl alcohol, Never Dull polish for the outer case only, vinegar for the fan grill, and WD40 for the fan hub is optional.
- Parts: replacement cables and/or fans may be needed which suit your ASIC model.
To protect the rig’s components, be careful not to use too hard brushes, or too much force when cleaning!
Troubleshooting Common Issues
There are various reasons for miner failures. If your machine is not working properly, first check the network, reset the rig, check the cables and power supply, clean dust, and/or lower the ambient temperature. You may also need to replace the power supply, upgrade the firmware, or re-flash the control panel.
Manufacturer Guides and Contacts
If your issue is still not solved, you can refer to your manufacturer’s troubleshooting and firmware guides here, or contact them about repairs:
Get in Touch with Miners
Miners are generally very helpful when it comes to dealing with operational issues. You can get in touch with other miners on social media sites like Twitter, or on Telegram channels like: WhatsMiner Community, Miners Peak, MinedMap, Home Mining Wizards, and more – just do a search in Telegram for mining channels.
There is also tons of good information available on the BitcoinTalk forum.
Best of luck with your mining ventures!