Need to cool off a little?


Pretty much every PC user over the years has experienced problems caused by heat build up in their system. How many, though, actually delve into the problem beyond de-clogging fans and vents occasionally?

Topskills author Bill Stack was suffering from problems caused by excessive overheating, but went a little further than the internet’s combined wisdom suggested, to find a simple cause, with an equally simple solution. You can read his Op-Ed article by clicking “Read More“.

My Cool Computer

By Bill Stack

My computer was overheating terribly, raising the temperature in my office, and causing my air conditioner to run continually. The three-speed exhaust fan was spinning feverously at its highest speed. I put a floor fan at the office door to blow warm air out of the room.

This overheating originally occurred only while I was using my flight simulator simultaneously with word processing and graphics programs for my writing projects. Then it started overheating while I was using only the flight simulator. Eventually, it was hot most of the time, even when I wasn’t using the simulator.

Overheating can cause major problems for computers such as slow operations, frequent error messages, and full circuitry failures. It’s ironic that excessive heat can cause a computer to freeze. The resulting physical damage can force costly replacements of the computer’s main components – motherboard, processor, and/or video cards.

I found copious advice on the Internet for using downloadable programs to monitor the computer’s temperature, running virus checkers, tweaking the computer’s settings, and installing water-cooling systems.

I certainly didn’t need software to tell me my computer was running hot because it was already heating my office. The latest virus checkers found nothing amiss.  The computer’s configuration settings were already consistent with manufacturers’ advice. A water-cooling system seemed exorbitant.

Some of the internet advice recommended checking air vents for blockage and keeping the computer away from direct sunlight. Standing on the floor next to my desk, my computer is not blocked by anything, and it is never in direct sunshine. The exterior vents had a little dust around the edges, which I swept away with an old paint brush, but the problem persisted.

Finally, I removed the box cover and examined the inside. I found lots of abandoned spider webs (no spiders thankfully), and a little dirt accumulation on the exhaust-fan blades, which I easily cleaned off.

Then I found the real problem after peering behind the central processing unit’s cooling fan with a flashlight: The CPU’s cooling blades had a layer of fine dust like a felt hat that completely blocked air flow over them. I carefully removed the cooling fan and cleared the dust by blowing canned air over the cooling blades with my right hand while holding the household vacuum cleaner nozzle with my left hand to catch the dust.

Thereafter, my computer ran properly with no performance problems and no heat being expelled into the office.

Having checked the easy solutions and common recommendations, I found the true solution with a little more effort, but it surely fixed my overheating computer.

If your computer is overheating, even while you are using high-demand programs like a flight simulator, don’t assume it’s normal. Check it out. Clean the inside of your computer box before buying expensive software that you might not need after all.


The image at the header of this article is by Audrius Meskauskas of a Zalman CNPS7000C-Cu, via Wikimedia.

0 Responses

  1. There’s an IT “news” website called The Register, based in the UK with an outpost in the US, that posts a semi-regular feature with pictures of the inside of very dirty computers.

    When Bill was talking about not finding any spiders, it reminded me of one featured at el reg, where they found no fewer than five deceased rodents inside the case… No-one knew how they had got in there as the case had been screwed shut!

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