Computer Cleaning

by admin on December 9, 2017

Just yesterday, one of the computers in the house wouldn’t turn on… All the computers are set to run diagnostics at night and then turn off. If I’m the last one up at night, I’ll turn off the UPS for the associated computer. Since I’m not usually the last one up it doesn’t happen that often. My wife figured that out, turned on the UPS and the computer still wouldn’t turn on… So it became a project.

Step one for me is

to get the normal test equipment. In this case I used a simple electrical outlet checker, I have the basic one which I’ve owned for probably 25 or 30 years. If I were buying one today, I’d get the one that can test GFCI sockets.


Simple Tester
GFCI Tester



The first thing I did was to verify that I had power at the wall, then all of the sockets on the UPS. Everything checked out OK, so it’s time to disassemble the computer. Since I’m taking it apart, I got out my vacuum cleaner and the adapter kit. I’ve had the kit for almost as long as the socket tester. I’ve added a stiff craft paint brush to it. The brush is about 5″ long so fits in the bag with the other items. I got mine from my wife after she completed a craft project. You can buy them at any craft store. What you want is soft, yet stiff. If the brush is soft, but not stiff enough and the bristles are long, you can use scissors to cut the bristles to a shorter length. The bristles on my brush are just under 1/2″ long. Small is good because you want it to fit into tight places. If you don’t have a standard vacuum you could buy one of these “electronics” vacuum cleaners. Even if you’re going to have a business doing repairs, I don’t recommend one of these. I would much rather have you get a good canister vacuum and the adapter kit. It is much more useful. It’s presented here as an option/alternative.

Attachment Kit Brush Small
Vacuum

I also bring in my compressed air cans or my air compressor. Here are a couple of suggestions. If you are going to use the air compressor, you need to make sure that it is only sending out air and not oil too. Set it up and find a clean white cloth/rag. Put the cloth over the end of the air discharge and discharge the compressor through the cloth for about 20 – 30 seconds. When done, look at the cloth if it shows oil or dirt, DON’T use it on your computer. My compressor is similar to the one shown, I bought it at Costco with all the accessories, including a 20ft curly hose for under $100.

If you’re using the cans of compressed air, you’ll notice the pressure drops as you use them and the cans get very cold. This is normal and due to the laws of thermodynamics. What you can do is keep the can in a pan of warm, NOT HOT, water. If you can’t keep your hand in the pan of water with the can, the water is too hot. Warning: using too hot water will cause it to explode. You have been warned!

Canned Air
Air Compressor

As I disconnected each of the cables from the computer I cleaned everything using a regular household cleaner like Formula 409 or Fantastik. I set them aside. Once everything was disconnected I vacuumed the computer using the regular vacuum. Opening the computer I again used the big vacuum. Placing it on one side of the fins of the heatsink, I injected pulses of air in from the other side of the heatsink. Similarly, I put the vacuum on one side of the drives and injected the air from the other side. After doing that, I added the attachment kit to the vacuum and cleaned the circuit board and all the areas of the computer. Be very careful not to break anything.

If you plan on disconnecting anything from inside the computer, you should have an antistatic wristband on and have the computer on an antistatic mat. Similarly, you should have anti-static bags to put the removed components into. I have a bunch of large, resealable bags that I use. If you want you can get an assortment of sizes, but for our purposes big bags are fine because the storage is temporary.

Anti-Static
Wrist Strap
Anti-Static
Mat
Anti-Static
Bags (Resealable)


Now that everything has been cleaned, I tried to power it up. No joy. :-(

I carefully disconnected the power supply from the components and then from the mother board. When disconnecting from the mother board, be careful to depress or open any retaining clamps as appropriate. I’ve seen both styles of connectors one that has to be pinched to open and those that have to be spread apart to “unlock.” Remove any screws that hold the power supply to the chassis. Carefully remove it. I then removed the screws holding the power supply case together. Once open, I used the vacuum and compressed air to clean it out. Once clean, I used a bright light and carefully inspected it for any signs of damage or burned out connectors. Seeing none, I again plugged in the power supply. This time, the green “power available” L.E.D. came on! :-) I unplugged it and then reattached the cover. I again plugged it in and again the green “power available” L.E.D. came on. So I put the power supply back in the chassis and again plugged it in. I still have the green LED lit. Now I re-attached each of the power cables from the harness to the components while observing the LED. No problems as I attached it to each of the drives. I attached the first, smaller, harness to the motherboard no problems. As I attached the larger harness to the board, I noticed that the LED flickered as I inserted the plug into it’s receptacle. Luckily(?) the LED remained on. Now I pressed the power switch and the fans came on and the drives started to spin up. I immediately turned the power off and closed up the case. Re-attaching all the cables I set the computer up and we were off and running again.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Julz April 24, 2011 at 05:31

AFAIC that’s the best answer so far!

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Brooke April 29, 2012 at 13:26

Hello there admin I liked your informative article on Computer Cleaning. Lovely just what I was looking for.
Brooke recently posted..Fear of FailureMy Profile

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