Dust to Dust



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I have seen the plastic latches for the heat sink break or crack. This prevents efficient conductivity causing over heating.



You'll be amazed at what an air can can blow out.  I do it once every few months.


Richard Smith

I recently had an old EMachines with a clogged cpu heatsink/fan. Fan wasn't running but the machine would still boot. I had to remove the heatsink and dismantle it. Thick brown goo that reek of tobacco had to be dug out with a tooth pick. A toothbrush cleaned the fan. You couldn't blow that crap out!

Another case comes to mind: A neighbor asked me to look at his computer. A smoking power supply. What we Floridans call palmetto bugs (roaches) were shorting the ps. Lots of them! I aint going to clean that sucker! I replaced the power supply with a new one and tactfully told him that a "bug" had gotten into the old one. 




Here is a little tidbit about the nature of electronics...if there is no power going to them then water cannot harm them...no mind you I don't really recommend that you throw your motherboard into the bathtub...but computer fans are a good candidate for cleaning with water...

So what do I do...I throw them into my dishwasher...hold the detergent please...then give them ample time to dry...and before you know it you got fans theat are as clean as the day they were put on the store shelves...your welcome...

Vladislav Draculva

For the record...I also do the same thing with my keyboard...



 DO NOT WASH COMPUTER EQUIPMENT! This has been an old wives tale for 20 years. Back when men were men and women were the ERA, you could get away with washing stuff. Today, forget it! Fans? Bearings rust and water gets into the windings. Components? surface mount components will hide water underneath. BGA components? Don't even TALK about washing them! And keyboards? They are layered these days with mylar layers and silicone bumps. Get water between those layers and Asta La Vista keyboard.



   Unless the fans are completely blocked by dust (usually by those damn "dust filters"), I have never seen a computer shut down solely due to dust. In other words, cleaning the dust out of a case with good airflow never fixed a computer. Dust is non conductive and does not really harm anything.

   That does NOT mean that dust  is not the culprit. The CPU or GPU fan may indeed be totally clogged and not spinning. This usually leads to a overtemp warning though.

   Feel free to clean the inside of the computer to ease your mind. Vacuuming is the WORST way to get a computer clean. The only place to vacuum is the bottom of the computer case and any outside grills. NEVER vacuum components as vacuum cleaners are great creators of static electricity, even the "safe" ones.

   The best way to clean a computer is with compressed air from a compressor or use the exhaust port of a portable vacuum. One major caveat. Do NOT let a fan spin freely when blowing air on it or you may kill the fan. Just stick your finger into it to prevent it from spinning. That goes for all fans from large to small. Blowing does leave a mess! Be prepared for dust bunnies everywhere.

THE vacuum of choice for computer work:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001Q8QCES or


The back end will fit the hose and I use the crevice tool to spot blow where it needs it. Its also a great vacuum for the house and car! heh.



+1 for the air compressor



I had the same problem quite a few years back.  Cleaning the dust out actually DID fix the problem.  It's not always the solution, but it can be.  Never rule dust out.  Your first step should be to clean the dust from the system including fans and heatsinks.  I remove the heatsink from the cpu, clean it (which sometimes requires rinsing and blow-drying), and reseat it.  Some systems don't have an overheating alarm set.  The default alarm for most systems is simply shutting down or restarting.  So lets not say, its never solved a problem...because it did...and it can.  After cleaning the dust out, and it's still causing probs...then start testing parts.  No point in trying to test overheating parts right?  It's not how many years you've been doing this...it's how much real world scenarios you have encountered.



 Oh, I had PLENTY of machines and test equipment that were thoroughly baked, literally. Completely clogged dust filters were responsible for most of them. That is why I said "WITH GOOD AIR FLOW". Big difference. Nice thing about most newer computers with a decent mobo is that it will shut down when the ambient temp gets too high.



personally I use cotton swabs to be safe.  Sometimes vacuums, but it's not my first choice.  The results aren't nearly as good as taking the time to go over the components and fans.  It's important to clean the dust on a regular basis.  Mabey every 3 to 6 months or so.  whatever works for you.  dust creates a blanket over the fans making the spin slower, thus cooling less efficiently.  It also blankets components causing them to warm up.  thus making the system restart or shut down for those of you who do not have audible alarms set.

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