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How do I get the inside of the computer case dusted and cleaned to prevent damage and keep it running?
Periodic shut-off might be over-heating, and I would imagine a hardware problem. It's the kind of problem where a good backup is nice to have :)
I've produced dust clouds rivaling the biggest windstorms using this method -- It's incredible how much dust floats around in the air and gets stuck inside electronic equipment. Therefore, "take it to the garage" is a required step.
I don't wait for the machine to start shutting down due to overheating. Instead, I do this to all my machines about once a year, as a "Spring cleaning." No harm done, but the bit about letting the machine reach room temperature is fairly critical: You don't want to 'thermally shock' any of the components. Pinning the fans in place prevents bearing damage -- You don't want them spinning up too fast because of the 40 PSI airstream!
This is a brute-force method, befitting my status as an American male who used to watch "Tool Time" on the Tim Allen show. ;)
This is a brute-force method, befitting my status as an American male
Jim, I've got a sweet, pretty little daughter who's befitting of the status and title of an American female geek (diva/techie). However, unfortunately she lives across the country. I have to admit that making a long distance move, from sunny SoCal to snow country, has entered into the criteria for consideration. My computer woes would be over. ;)
Advice duly noted and printed out, thank you! I have noticed that the shut-down time in the evening, when outside temperatures are way cooler, is considerably different than in the heat of the afternoon (90 degrees is HOT!).
Stick pencils, soda straws, or similar appropriately-sized objects into or through the fans (carefully) so they cannot spin. Duct tape in place.
Disclosure: The last computer was so gummed up (dust + cooking & smoking) that they couldn't even see the parts, and the tech had to wear a face mask when using compressed air to even see the components inside.
[edited by: Marcia at 5:03 am (utc) on Oct. 31, 2008]
If I tried that, you'd find me missing from the Apache forum, and listed in the obituaries... :o
She who must be obeyed will not tolerate such infractions.
Marcia, if it looks like a fan of any kind, just use *any* method to prevent it from spinning at high speed when you're blowing air on it. Spinning fans too fast can wreck their bearings -- as I found out the hard way...
In my experience, the dust in a heatsink is usually very lightly packed and can be removed by a vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool provided you can get it up close. As for compressed air, a drinking straw or empty pen case combined with a bit of puff should be sufficient (but can lead to condensation if equipment is particularly cold). You might need to close your eyes to avoid wayward dust.
For a desktop it is much easier but make sure you get all the dust off the heatsink fins. Either rotate the fan blades to see if there is any dust build up or remove it (some are clipped on with brackets, some screwed on).
What could happen too is that the thermal past has dried up and thus the cooling system is not effective enough. If you are still having heat problems after the fans are de-dusted then get the heatsink and cpu surface cleaned and re apply a good quality paste. I would not recommend novices doing this though.
BTW - make sure all fans and inlets / outlets are de-dusted. Check the front and back of the case, the holes in the case panels, the holes in the PSU etc.
You should be able to check temps in your BIOS. You may also be able to set your alarm and shutdown temps in the BIOS but some branded PCs disable that info.
A really good lightweight app for checking temps is speedfan.
[edited by: Frank_Rizzo at 4:42 pm (utc) on Nov. 3, 2008]
My workbench has an ESD mat with a wristband. About $100 gets you a decent sized one and it's well worth it when protecting thousands of dollars worth of hardware and data.
If your machine has been shutting down from heat, I'd put your RAM through the paces with a stout test program. Excessive heat can damage RAM and sometimes the failures aren't enough to cause an error in your boot-up test.
If using compressed air cans, the can will lose pressure after a few minutes of continued use. It'll feel really cold and if you listen closely it'll sound like it's bubbling inside. Set it down for a while until it warms back up and it'll be back to full pressure. (assuming it's not out)
Lastly, don't forget to give your powersupply a good blast. It can store a LOT of dust.
get the heatsink and cpu surface cleaned and re apply a good quality paste. I would not recommend novices doing this though.
[edited by: SEOMike at 9:40 pm (utc) on Nov. 4, 2008]
In my small place the amount of dust and grime coming out would probably choke me, so I trundled it over to the geek guys and they got it cleaned up in a matter of minutes. And yeah, the amount of grime that came out was amazing, simply amazing. Very glad I didn't try it at home.
I really didn't know what kind of damage I had done last year so I decided to switch out the processor at the same time. Went well, was just sure to give the heatsink a horizontal twist or two to break the seal before pulling it up. Stuff like Ooops works real well to clean things up, followed up by alcohol to get the Ooops off. I also decided to pull out four HDs used mostly to store slide scans, figured that would cut power requirements and open up more space for air movement. The front fan was gone and the only thing readily available within a few blocks was a cheapie that sounds like a 747; have to pick up a better one before I put the box back in its cubbyhole.
Besides a few BIOS and Windows quirks that just took time to take care of (restart upon restart), everything went fairly well.
Also, be careful with a vacuum. All the dirt and dust particles flowing through the plastic hose can build up quite a bit of static.
Assuming the hose/handle is plastic, the chances of it passing a static charge to the user are also zero.
Provided you touch the computer case before touching any internal components, the chances of static discharge causing damage to a fully assembled computer are extremely remote. For the most part, static is hazardous to components that are not installed.
Before installing components...
To discharge any static on the body, touch a metal pipe or tap/faucet etc.
To ensure no static builds from rubber-soled shoes rubbing against nylon carpet, etc. you can simply work barefoot (pure cotton socks should be ok too).