25 Mar Time for a PC spring cleaning? Dust can lead to a dead power supply, or worse!
Time for a PC Spring Cleaning
It seems like the last few weeks, our number one service request has been to replace bad power supplies. The power supply is a metal box inside your computer (usually with a fan inside) and distributes power to the mother board, disc drives and various other components. It’s the part with the black cable that plugs into your wall. You can see what one looks like in the upper right-hand corner of the picture to the right.
So, why are we seeing so many dead power supplies? Well, between Jason and I, we came up with a couple of theories.
For one, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction that spring would come early this year, we just haven’t seen it, yet. As a result, people are keeping their doors and windows closed — many with weather stripping to seal up drafts. If you aren’t dusting and vacuuming regularly, dust gets trapped and builds up inside your house, especially for households that smoke, run their fireplace or use coal for heat.
Dust gets pulled into your computer and sticks to the fans, grates and other components, clogging up airways and acting like insulation, keeping the heat from dissipating when components begin to warmup. Dust that clings to fans can cause them to fail sooner as they struggle to keep the air flowing through your PC. A bad fan isn’t just a noisy nuisance, though, it can allow a PC to overheat, which can lead to a cooked CPU and video card, burned out motherboard or power supply. Once a PC begins to overheat, if not immediately shut down, the various parts inside can be ruined in just a matter of seconds. It doesn’t take long!
Dry air isn’t just bad for your skin, it’s bad for your computer, too. Ever get a shock when touching a door knob or another person after rubbing your feet across a carpet? That tiny jolt might sting for a fraction of a second, but it can utterly destroy the vital electronics inside your computer.
Dry skin rapidly sheds dead cells which become dust and mix with other particles in the air, each becoming charged and building up static electricity. Those charged particles build up inside your computers and can allow the components to short or discharge, frying them in the blink of an eye. This is also why it’s important to be properly grounded if you ever venture to open your computer’s case and poke around inside. If your body has built up a static charge, you could easily zap any of the chips inside and permanently damage them. It’s best to keep your computer cleaned out, free of dust, and to never touch anything inside the computer if you’re not grounded and have allowed the static electricity to safely discharge.
Another drawback of the overdue spring is that people are staying inside, using their computers more instead of going outside to enjoy the nice weather. Our modern PCs are an endless source of entertainment and diversion, from playing video games to watching movies and TV shows, chatting online or catching up with friends over social media. Those long hours add up, and as the computer constantly works to stay cool, eventually it will wear out.
Power supplies generally last well beyond the useful years of the average PC, meaning that you’ll probably be ready to upgrade to a whole new system before you have to worry about one burning out. However, for the reasons I’ve stated here, some power supplies might burn out much sooner than others.
In conclusion, whether due to wear and tear over the years from working under normal conditions, a build-up of dust that leads to overheating, or electrical shock damage from static or other sources (lightning strikes, power surges, brown outs) power supplies can go bad for a variety reasons. Why does it seem to be happening so often these last few weeks? That’s anyone’s guess. But with spring just around the corner, it’s definitely time to look into getting your computer cleaned out.
Give us a call if your computer isn’t booting properly or is overheating, randomly shutting down, making a lot of noise or just needs a good cleaning out. We’re more than happy to help!
As a note of caution, if you decide to clean your PC out yourself, be extra careful around the power supply, and NEVER open it unless you are specifically qualified to do so! There are components inside your power supply that can build up a dangerously high level of voltage that can kill you if discharged. Play it safe! Contact an expert, like us, if unsure.