View Full Version : Its Worth Repeating...(Bunnies)

10-22-2010, 03:20 PM
Just taken my graphics card ,sound card,RAM and CPU heat sink fan off and given my pc a thorough dusting .ALL temps are DEFINITELY down 2-3 degrees.Probably the equivalent of spending 30-60 /$/E on cooling hardware upgrades -AND I keep my pc quite clean inside -Ive seen some people who's pc insides looks like rotten with dust .Underneath the cpu heat sink cooling fan was 'hiding' a LOT of dust .
I remember when I first took apart my pc being terrified of static -I even put insulating tape around the shaft of a screwdriver I was using inside for fear of short circuiting etc ...For years now ive given the insides a thorough cleaning with a powerful vacuum cleaner and synnthetic brush attachment ...By rights I should have gone through a five figure sum's worth of hardware by now but Ive NEVER had any issues whatsoever Has anyone ever ACTUALLY blown componentry in the last 10 years by careless handling /cleaning ...The only broadly similar mishap I had was being too rough cleaning a DFI skt 939 motherboard chipset wih alcohol wipes and a flathead screwdriver(yeah I know !ya live and learn!) ...it totally died !
I think too many folks over hype the static thing ,all i do is touch a radiator copper pipe every few minutes ...

10-22-2010, 04:03 PM
Sound advice, every couple of months I'm in there with a vacuum and an artists paintbrush, definitely pays dividends in performance and longevity of hardware.

10-22-2010, 04:43 PM
Originally posted by Dance:
Sound advice, every couple of months I'm in there with a vacuum and an artists paintbrush, definitely pays dividends in performance and longevity of hardware.


I do exactly the same thing let's say twice a year.
You don't wanna know how much dust a PC collects in a couple of months.

10-22-2010, 04:53 PM
Just make sure if you vacuum, you use a cordless unit (like a dustbuster).

Using your electric do-the-house unit will cause a static buildup and you could toast components.

10-22-2010, 06:48 PM
OK OK I keep moaning to do it!

10-22-2010, 07:15 PM
I use an air compressor. Violent, no contact, so no static and gets the worst of it... but I really should get in there and take things apart for more in depth cleaning, and more often.

My biggest issue is with the pins et al on the various boards. They attract dust around the bases that is quite difficult to remove. If anyone has any secrets, please share! I'd love to know how to get rid of this.

10-22-2010, 08:06 PM
I use compressed air run through a filter/dryer and blow it out.

10-22-2010, 08:43 PM
I've always used an air compressor too. Just don't be as stupid as I was the first time when cleaning it that way. I feared the CPU fan might burn out it's bearings. It was really winding up so I decided to lay my finger on it as it spun to slow it down. I figured that it was spinning so I could slow it by applying my finger to the wide flat edge. But no, I stuck it in the blades edge. Sliced the skin off the tip of my finger slicker than a scalpel.

10-22-2010, 10:35 PM
Static electricity -- rub dry insulators and you get it. Air is an insulator BTW. Running dry air down an insulating plastic tube is a great way to build up a charge. Just dry air blown a foot or so from a grounded metal pipe into a plastic bowl on a dry day can make a charge in the bowl that will make someone jump. The canned air for cleaning electronics you can buy is not pure dry air.

Your best defense: work in a humid environment, wet air bleeds static and won't let it build so much. There are limits of course but for casual contact or when using a vacuum cleaner it's a big limiter.

Remember that a grounded PC has a grounded chassis, touch that to put yourself on the same ground as your components.

Vacuum cleaner: I have yet to have any problem with one. I use my shop vac or a plug-in 600V mini-vac, both are GROUNDED to the same ground my PC is plugged into which I can't say for a battery operated handheld. I run them on HUMID days and no problems so far for over 20 years. I'd be a lot more scared of dry air but that's the 150 psi stuff I've only played with in some factories and most of that has some oil droplets in it too, it's great for making "juice". I'd rather use something that pulls air in than blasts it out anyway.

You ever want to do heavy cleaning, get ECL and a toothbrush. ECL is used for cleaning electronics. A polonium brush, aka antistatic brush of the type used for cleaning dust off vinyl records might work for some dirt but they aren't exactly stiff. Try a stereo shop if your paranoia goes that far. Humid day, toothbrush, short strokes, hand on the chassis works fine.

If you work on carpet with the right clothes or shoes you can build yourself a charge. Hand on the grounded, plugged in chassis will take that with a touch. They sell spray for such carpets and chairs (seat cover material) at office stores so you won't build a charge.

Electrostatics is a nice study. Find out what it takes to make a static generator or static air cleaner and what defeats them. It makes for interesting reading.

Did I mention humidity and occasionally grounding yourself? High AC or winter days dry the air really well. Check your environment before you work.

10-23-2010, 06:52 AM
Yep it's good advice but I bet we all know lots of people who NEVER think of opening up and cleaning/dusting their pcs. Heck, the folk I work with had no idea that a mouse ball collects dirt and will stop the mouse functioning properly unless you clean it. they were ready to ring facilities for a replacement mouse. In fact I'm sure we could have some fun listing daftest It- related questions/quotations...

10-23-2010, 08:37 AM
Well I'm a huge fan of cooling and air circulation and have posted my systems info often....Anywho.

Get your PC off the floor, the higher the better. It is at floor level where all that dust and dander settles...You know, all that dead skin from your feet, the dog scratching, etc.. A way to do this without raising up the PC, is to with simple cardboard make ducting to the intakes and route it high.

You can also make quite a simple labyrinth baffle which will also knock a lot of the dust out of the incoming air. Basically, the dust along with the air strikes the baffles and tends to fall before reaching the PC.

Lastly, use filters. Electrostatic work fine though are not ideal, and if you really want to keep it cheap use gauze and tape.


10-23-2010, 11:38 AM
Great idea LEBillfish. When I built my system, I asked about filters, and the guys said, "Don't bother, it's just one more thing to clean (actually, several). Just clean the system religiously, and often."

I see where they were coming from, but there's a downside. That being that I'm not in the cleanest of environments (yay for dust...), and the sides of the case are actually completely open, with hole punch sized holes in the casing, by design (for cooling). By rights, I'd have to clean this thing out twice a week or more to keep it as nice as it could be with filters. I just don't feel like hauling up and down the stairs to the air compressor twice a week, and it suffers due to that.

I like you're idea about getting it up off the floor. One of those "Gee, ya think? Why didn't I see that?" Thanks. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Time to see about re-arranging desk top space.

10-23-2010, 11:51 AM
Fan blades as well as potentially being quite sharp can be very brittle and break easily-obviously it will vibrate like amd and be unusable if a blade breaks -no fun especially with an expensive big one...

10-24-2010, 05:40 PM
If you do use a vacuum or compressed air do not let the cooling fans spin up.

Its actually quite easy to over-speed the fans and wreck the bearings shortening the life drastically.

10-25-2010, 07:18 AM
I'll have to post some pics of my machine when I get the chance but lets just say it moves a lot of air. I use an air compressor at about 3 month intervals. Avoid over spinning your fans at all cost. When possible place your finger on the fan when you are diligently trying to get all the dust out of your heatsink fins. For power supply fans you can hold the tip of a pencil in the blades before blowing out. Spinning the fans a bit is not a problem just don't let them run out of control. Also don't hold the air chock too close to the components attempting for force every tiny trace of dust off. The force of the high pressure air can damage things and act like a sandblaster. Depending on the humidity of the surrounding area be it outside, in the garage or wherever you decide to blow out your box, if your compressor doesn't have a moisture trap and even if it does the cold air on components can cause condensation and you should let your machine sit for about 3 to 5 minutes before firing it back up so it can evaporate as a precaution. In some rare cases, in area such as Acopulco or other tropical climates you may have to let it sit for 15 minutes or more depending on the humidity. As for the meticulous scrubbing of the hardware with toothbrushes or vacuums or what not I see this as completely unnecessary and potentially damaging, though a motherboard in a case is when unplugged somewhat less susceptible to ESD simply because of the increased conductive area the housing provides then one that is simply being held naked so to speak in your hands or on a desk. Remember it's just going to start getting dusty again as soon as you turn it on. Having a trap for dust is good but any filtration will inhibit air flow and reduce cooling effect to some degree. I was thinking of making and ionic dust collector such as a series of fins that the air must pass by which charge the dust particles and drawn then to the fins though this my increase the about of ambient static charge and would require some testing first before I would use it on one of my "good" machines. Probably modify a small version of one of those Ionic Breeze things.

10-25-2010, 11:12 AM
Another thing that can help with dust collection is positive pressure, i.e. more air blowing into the case than out. This way dust will not be sucked into all the little nooks, crannies and holes in addition to what the fans blow in. Now of course it's a delicate balance, if you have too little air exiting then heat will build up, but if you have more air exiting than entering the case then you literally have a vacuum cleaner and your case will suck in dust through any air hole, vent, seam, etc.

10-25-2010, 11:20 AM
Um, I think you'll find that over the long term, the mass of the air leaving the case has to balance the mass entering, U_S (though the volume should increase). It can't go anywhere else... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-tongue.gif

If you are filtering incoming air, then yes, positive pressure is necessary to prevent dust coming in through other routes.

10-25-2010, 12:27 PM
If I had the money, I'd seal the box and fill it with non-conducting liquid and keep that refrigerated Cray-style. Oh well.

A sealed system using air inside and Peltier coolers on the top and maybe one side of the box should be possible (not cheap tho), I just dunno what it would do to the electric bill. It would be cheaper and more efficient to convert a small AC unit... but the whole rig would be more bulky.

I've run my PC's with a side panel off for over 20 years now. Makes it easy to get at the insides to clean or upgrade.