Hidden Killers of the Home PC

Computers have lots of components in them that generate heat. Some of them quite a lot of it.

Unless you are a gamer or computer enthusiast with a water cooling system in your PC, a system of heatsinks and fans are used to keep the poor thing from melting into a pile of silicone goo. Essentially a heatsink is a copper device with a series of fin like protrusions – the copper conducts heat away from the heat generating areas, and the large surface area of the fins allows the heat to be released as the fans blow across them.

It’s a great system and works well when maintained properly, but by the very nature of the setup (i.e. sucking air in the front and blowing air out the back) it acts like a vacuum pump and anything in the air in your home will eventually end up inside your computer.

If heat is not manage effectively, make no mistake it can lead to complete system failure.

Computer HeatsinkWhich brings us to the three number one killers of the home PC:

  1. Dust – Even the cleanest of homes has dust in the air. Whilst you will use a vacuum cleaner and various dusting do-dads to keep your home spotless it’s hard to do that inside your PC. Dust will coat the entire surface of the internal components, sealing heat in, and even worse clogging up the fins on your heatsinks making them less efficient or completely non-functional in extreme cases.
  2. Pet Hair – Same concept as above, but even nastier on heatsinks. Being course it builds up quickly – I have seen layers of dust compacted pet hair so dense they look like a layer of manufactured felt blocking off vents.
  3. Cigarette smoke – The nastiest of them all. The tar residue from cigarette smoke is sticky and corrosive and will stick to and eat away at the circuitry inside your computer.

So what do we do about these potential PC killers?

Dust is unavoidable, as is pet hair if you have fur babies inside – regular maintenance is key. If you are a bit handy and act carefully you can whip the cover off and spray it with a can of compressed air to remove foreign particles. Don’t use a vacuum cleaner as this can cause static discharge, and avoid air compressors as without great care they can spin fans up beyond their intended RPM limit and pretty much explode them. Of course we are happy to help with your maintenance tasks if you were to err on the safe side.

As for cigarette smoke prevention is better than cure, best not to smoke around the computer, especially while it is turned on. If you fear the damage is already done please contact us to arrange specialised cleaning.