Vacuum your PC

One of the number one problems with PC’s is that the fans which cool your computer also send dust into it. Most of the computers I service have dust in them to some extent. Some cases are extreme with huge 1-2” diameter dust balls in areas! Dust accumulating in your computers case can cause a number of problems.

The most common problem I encounter caused by dust is noisy or nonworking fans. The fans are the first to start collecting dust. This dust gets into the ball bearings in the fan and they will start to become noisy often making a screeching sound now and then. If a noisy fan is not replaced the bearings can lock up and cause the fan to stop working. This can lead to more serious problems such as your main processor overheating and permanent hardware failure.

Another problem with accumulated dust in a PC is the blockage of the heatsink. The heatsink sits on top of your main processor as well as some other processors which are on devices such as graphics card. A heatsink works like a car radiator. Air pressure which is created by a fan forces air through the heatsink which then removes heat from the processors. If too much dust accumulates in the heatsink it can block the airflow and cause your processors to overheat or fail permanently.

A bit less common, but still a threat of dust in your computer, is static charges. A layer of dust on a memory chip or other component can cause static electricity to build up. This static can amount to electric charge which will then discharge onto your motherboard or memory chip. Many memory chip failures I have diagnosed were most likely due to a layer of dust which had built up on them.

So, how do you prevent dust from building up in your computer? Well, you really cant prevent dust from getting into your PC. There have been some companies which make fan filters but dust will still find its way into your computer. The best way to maintain dust from building up is to open the case on your PC and vacuum it on a regular basis.

To vacuum your PC I recommend the use of a small shop vac with plastic attachments for the hose. A normal vacuum with plastic attachments will also work. Use the plastic attachment which has the smallest end on it. Turn off your computer and unplug it. If you don’t know how to remove the case on your computer to access the inside you might have to consult your user’s manual. Once you have the case cover removed you can vacuum away. The inside of your computer is pretty durable; as long as you are not extremely aggressive inside it you shouldn’t be worried about breaking anything. Be sure to vacuum around and on top of the fans. Don’t be alarmed if the force of the vacuum cleaner makes the fan start to move a bit. Be careful not to jam the attachment into the fan blades as they can break.

How often should you vacuum your computer? It really depends on your environment. You will find that you might need to do it once a month, once every 3 months, perhaps even only once a year. Households with smokers or pets will likely need to vacuum their computer out on a more frequent basis. Most computer cases are built so that it is easy for the end user to remove them. If you have one of these newer computers I would recommend that you just remove the case and look to see how dirty it is. If you feel it needs cleaned then do it. Older machines sometimes require a bit more effort to get inside the case. No matter how hard it might be to get into these computers I would still encourage you to do so at least once and inspect the inside for dust. If you have had your computer for many years and it is relatively dust free then perhaps once a year is good enough for you.

If you are scared to take on this task and are in my area you can always arrange to bring your PC my office for a complimentary cleaning and I will show you how to do it for yourself in the future. It really doesn’t take much time and can be well worth it in the long run. You might be surprised as to the amount of dust and debris you find hiding inside your PC!

Article Info

  • Author: Brian
  • Posted on: Tuesday January 31, 2006
  • Under: Tech-Advice