Optical Fibre cabling systems have evolved to carry more and more data over the years.

This has increased the need to have excellent Fibre terminations to reduce data loss. Things that affect losses and data transmission are poor fibre cable quality, poor fibre installation practices, poor fibre terminations and dirt on the fibre terminations.

Dirty fibre connectors are a serious issue. Dirt can permanently damage end faces. Oil can refract light and you can lose data. In saying that, many of the fibre faults we come across can be easily fixed by correctly cleaning the ends.

The problem is that most people do not have the equipment to visually inspect the end face of a fibre optic connector to see if there is a need to clean. Nor do they have the correct cleaning equipment.

Picture 1
This connector has a small amount of dust or oil on the face, but it is not covering the centre of the core.This connector still passes and will work well.

You must inspect, clean, and inspect again to avoid ruining a perfectly good fibre optic connector. Sometimes by interfering with a clean connector you can actually make it dirty in the process of cleaning. It only takes one piece of dirt or dust to get trapped on an end face to create an issue.


Picture 2
FAIL!!! This fibre optic connector has oil and dust covering the entire surface of the core.The dirt is blocking transmission and the oil is causing reflections.

Many fibre end users think that fibre can be cleaned with a normal tissue (or even their shirt!) – DON’T!

Now Imagine: you have a fibre optic link between two rooms and a fibre patch lead at each end going into a network switch.

This means you have 4 fibre cable end faces plus 8 patch lead fibre end faces.
That’s 12 fibre optic end faces that could POSSIBLY be dirty.

Blindly cleaning and plugging these 12 different fibre optic faces leaves you with 144 different scenarios of possible dirt locations. Add to that the fact that dirt and oil can transfer between fibre faces.

This makes it IMPOSSIBLE to troubleshoot without the proper fibre equipment.

Elam specialise in installing optical fibre cabling and terminating it correctly. This means you do not need to worry about ruining a brand new fibre installation by plugging dirty connectors in. We can supply and install the entire fibre link and have it plugged into your network switch equipment.

Picture 3
This is the same connector as picture 2!

Elam technicians have cleaned it correctly using dust free tissues and a fibre optic cleaning solution.

If you have an issue with an existing optical fibre link, in particular drop outs or slow data transmission rates call us to test your link and visually inspect your fibre optic connectors .

When it comes to optical fibre fault finding – we are the experts!
Written by Elissa Ashcroft