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Strommer
06-11-2005, 08:29 AM
What is the best way to remove dust from the components inside a computer? While replacing a CD-DVD R/W, I was surprised how much dust there was after only 14 months. The fan on the P4 processor was clogged about 50% (which explains that it would go to high revs when doing heavy graphic work).

For the fan, I used an artist's paintbrush from the $2 shop; the dust easily came off as a layer. For the other components, I was reluctant to use a brush due to possible static electricity, and we had no vacuum cleaner exhaust hose or hair dryer (cool setting), so I blew a few lungfuls but this was not so effective.

Would it be a good idea to get a can of compressed air, and if so, where is a cheap source? DSE has a "CRC Air Brush 300g" for nearly $20 - it seems like a rip off for AIR !

BTW, I read somewhere that dust causes something like 50% of computer problems. Is it really this high?

Thanks.

Myth
06-11-2005, 08:47 AM
Forget the vacuum cleaner, produces too much static.

Some sorts of paint brush are ok (horsehair I think) anyway a cetain type don't produce much if any static.
Compressed air is good (like the canned stuff from Dick Smith) however spraying in one area too long will freeze the mobo temporarily, not sure what if any damage this does. I have heard of some people using an ordinary compressor, just make sure theres no (minimal) moisture in the air.

linw
06-11-2005, 09:22 AM
I mostly use a brush. Generally the problem areas are not static sensitive e.g. fans and air grills/inlets. Be careful with compressed air on fans, though, as I have heard that bearings can be ruined by the air revving them up to very high speed!

beetle
06-11-2005, 09:24 AM
Apparently if you are a diver, using your tank (compressed air / diving tank) is good for this.
Not tried it myself, but do know this works pretty good.

Ask a bit louder and they may see this thread...lol and explain a little bit more....... a pf1 regular i beleive does this........

:illogical :thumbs:
beetle

bob_doe_nz
06-11-2005, 09:33 AM
I use a combination of compressed air and wiping the case itself with a lint free cloth soaked in a partially diluted mix of Isopropyl alcohol and water

John H
06-11-2005, 10:27 AM
Apparently if you are a diver, using your tank (compressed air / diving tank) is good for this.
Not tried it myself, but do know this works pretty good.

Ask a bit louder and they may see this thread...lol and explain a little bit more....... a pf1 regular i beleive does this........

:illogical :thumbs:
beetle

I used to use my buoyancy compensator inlet hose (the hose that connects the regulator on your dive tank to your buoycom) to clear out dust, as you say beetle. However, it seems preferable to buy an aerosol can of compressed air for this purpose, rather than to lug your tank inside, connect it up, and try to manipulate the hose (which is relatively short and inflexible) within a confined space. I also had to use a finger to hold down the valve to release the air, and the finger tip got mighty cold - maybe risking frost nip!

It was effective though - 3000psi can probably dislodge most things from your computer case unless they are properly nailed down!

andrew93
06-11-2005, 10:57 AM
Start by dry brushing the outside of the case to clear all of those cracks and vents of dust - a natural fibre brush is better than synthetic (e.g. horse hair paint brush). The electric blowers (like the small hand-held garden variety) are excellent for blowing the dust out of the case and off the mobo etc. Be sure to poke the end of a plastic pen or a pencil into the CPU fan to stop it spinning out of control. Then point the end of the blower at the power supply from inside the case and blow all of the crap out of the PSU, again don't over-do it. Do it outside unless you want all of the dust in your house.....you'll be surprised (or not) at how much dust comes out. Just make sure you don't dislodge any cables etc and also make sure you don't drop any beads of sweat onto the mobo - it's been done before.....
A

FrankS
06-11-2005, 11:32 AM
When you have your nice clean computer put it back at least at table height. Sited just above carpet level and your air intakes will acquire a nice fine mat that will not improve the internal cooling abilities of your fans.
Curious to know why compressed air does'nt create static but a vacuum does. All vacuum cleaners used in hazardous situations have pretty extensive anti static precautions.

PaulD
06-11-2005, 11:52 AM
Would it be a good idea to get a can of compressed air, and if so, where is a cheap source? DSE has a "CRC Air Brush 300g" for nearly $20 - it seems like a rip off for AIR !

The "air" is tetrafluoroethane. http://www.crc.co.nz/msds/2066.HTM

Billy T
06-11-2005, 12:28 PM
I have never had any problems using a vacuum cleaner, blowing or sucking, but if you want to be super-cautious, use a paint brush to stir up the dust and keep the vacuum cleaner nozzle about 5-10cm away.

The air alone won't cause static damage, it would have to build up on the nozzle then jump from there to the component to cause damage. Leaving the computer plugged in to a mains socket with the mains switch off would provide an earth path for discharge, and occasionally touching the nozzle to the metal case would discharge any static that might develop.

I have a couple of static meters so I might do some tests one day and see what voltage I can generate, but I won't be holding my breath in anticipation.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)

Greg
06-11-2005, 12:49 PM
Use a regular vaccuum cleaner if it has a slot to reduce its sucky power - don't have the nozzle too close to any components, and have a small soft artists paintbrush to lightly loosen any stubborn build-up.

Keep the power cord to the PSU plugged into the wall socket, but have the switch OFF.

Use a finger or the paint brush to prevent fans from spinning wildly.

Rapidly moving air over components CAN cause damaging static, so keep the vaccuum nozzle at least 10 or so cm's from any chips.

Graham L
06-11-2005, 01:45 PM
There are a lot of urban myths around. Destructive static from vacuum cleaners is one of them. Static on the "suck" end and not on the "blow" end? I'm not allowed to use the appropriate words to express my oipinion of that here. :D

The suggestion of using the 3000 psi air from a diving tank does have one minor problem: static charge. :( Static is produced by the friction of a high speed jet of dry gas against the nozzle.

(Normally you "crack" a cylinder of welding gas before fitting the regulator, to make sure there's no crud in the connector. That is a major no-no with hydrogen. That has such a wide range of flammability that it can ignite immediately, from a static discharge to the brass cylinder valve.)

There are a few things associated with computers that vacuum cleaners are not good for. (Picking up spilled toner is one ... that's so fine it will go through the filters into the motor, where it meets the hot windings, and melts.). They are good at collecting dust.

Static charges would have to work hard to damage components soldered in or plugged into a motherboard. They are at "equipotential" as far as "static" is concerned. It's taking components out of a bag and touching the pretty gold bits that does the damage. That's when your 100 pF discharging through 1500 ohms (the "Human Body Model") does the damage.

FrankS
06-11-2005, 02:45 PM
The only thing I could see with the vacuum is the air humidity level resulting in static jump. Presume tetrafluoroethane is dry and a good insulator but have found that unless you keep it the recommended 25cm away plus wave the can you will get a very cold frothy mess with moisture from the surrounding air.

Strommer
07-11-2005, 12:37 PM
Thanks everyone for responding to my question.

I think I'll tell the $2 Shop head office that they need to sell canned air !

Not using a synthetic bristle brush seems to be a good idea although air seems to be a safer method.

bizzack
08-11-2005, 03:37 PM
hhmm?? air? I never thought of that... I always used a bucket and some soapy water, usually washing up detergent, but sometimes if I'm feeling really rich I chuck in some of my car wash mixture. Then I splosh all the parts around until they are crystal clear.... by the way, my pc wont boot up at all anymore?! I don't know what has happened! I tried everything, cleaned it all again... but alas... to no avail. I'm using my mothers computer now, but it seems kinda dusty, I better give it a nice bath too! :2cents:

Billy T
08-11-2005, 04:16 PM
hhmm?? air? I never thought of that... I always used a bucket and some soapy water, usually washing up detergent, but sometimes if I'm feeling really rich I chuck in some of my car wash mixture. Then I splosh all the parts around until they are crystal clear.... by the way, my pc wont boot up at all anymore?! I don't know what has happened! I tried everything, cleaned it all again... but alas... to no avail. I'm using my mothers computer now, but it seems kinda dusty, I better give it a nice bath too! :2cents:

All jokes aside, you can actually wash PC boards with water & detergent, and provided you rinse well and dry thoroughly (warm oven for a few hours) you will do no harm at all.

Restoring electronic equipment that has been through floods or other immersions during fires etc is a thriving business and the reliability achieved is good enough for insurance companies to get into the act. Take a look at www.relectronic-remech.com they are the experts world-wide and will restore pretty much anything, not just electronics. Use the UK site and click on service delivery.

Cheers

Billy 8-{)