Thursday, November 03, 2011

Dirty fans

What do you do when you turn on your computer one morning and it makes a terrible whirring noise. You realize that one of the fans (or all of them) need cleaning, and so you turn everything off, disconnect the computer and open it up in order to clean the fans. They are supposed to be cleaned every 6 months, or at least every 12 months, but if like me you haven't cleaned them in years, now is the time to do it. I could of course, have called an expert, or taken it in for cleaning, but that would all cost money and time.

I took out two screws and slid off the side panel and was pleased to find that I had chosen the correct side. Then I saw how covered in dust was the main fan, it was filthy. No wonder it wasn't working properly. I removed all the outside dust, but there was a huge amount inside the fan itself and covering the heat exchanger, which is the metal unit with fluting that the fan is supposed to cool. So I realized that I needed to remove this unit, and I was sure that there must be a way to do this, but I could not see how. It was held on the corners by four plastic supports, but pushing, pulling or bending these (very carefully) did not release the unit. So I got a flashlight (torch for the Brits) and looked more closely, and lo and behold I saw a small arrow on each showing the way to open them with a screwdriver. So I turned the tops a half turn and sure enough each one of them popped out and I was able to remove the unit. Then to separate the fan itself from the heat exchanger I saw that there were two ridges in the latter and simply prised the plastic fan holder carefully off the metal part. Then I was able to clean each of them properly, and put a small spray of oil into the fan itself.

There were two other fans, one a large one at the back of the computer unit, that was easy to clean, and another inside the power supply. I carefully removed this and opened it (including 2 hidden screws) and took out the fan unit and cleaned it. Then I put everything back the way it had been, without having disconnected any electrical connectors or touching any circuit boards. After reconnecting all the peripherals, everything is working fine, and I am able to write this to you all. I saved some money and time and I'm happy I accomplished something myself.


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