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computer dust

Summer is drawing to an end and it’s been a good one.

You probably threw open all the windows and doors to keep cool while enjoying the summer breezes. And so you should – but now realize that you’ve had a lot of dust, pollen, and other things travelling throughout your home and probably being sucked up the intake fan in your desktop computer.

Computers are like televisions, they just seem to attract dust – and the problem with dust is it creates heat, and heat is the enemy of computers. You need to get rid of this dust.

Alert: this article describes activities that could cause serious damage to your computer and void your warranty. If you are not comfortable with these activities you can contact us and arrange a time to have Foreverwarm Consulting handle this.

Ok, now I’ve got that out of the way – still with me?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Phillips screwdriver (cross-head)
  • Paint brush
  • Can of compressed air

Step 1 – Unplug the Power

This is very important! Don’t ever skip this step when you are dealing with the innards of your computer.

Remove the power cable and all other cables from the back of the computer.

Step 2 – Remove the case panel

Most standard computer cases have two screws at the back holding on the side panel on the case. Unscrew and remove these and slide off the panel. When you face the front of the computer you usually want to remove the panel on the left.

This will expose the motherboard, fan, wires, disks, etc.

computer insides

Step 3 – Air and brush

First, let’s talk about using compressed or canned air. This air is under pressure and if you just pull the trigger and let it blow then you will notice the can gets very cold very quickly. This is bad and causes condensation (water) which is obviously bad for electrical circuits! What you want is short bursts of no more than 1 second with the can held about 6 inches away. Do this wrong and you risk a dead computer!

brush computer

Ugh, see all those grey brown dust clusters at the bottom of the computer? You may want to do this outside or in an easily cleanable area. You can pick out by hand the largest ones.

Start at the top and blow out the power supply where the power cord plugs in (you removed it in Step 1 right?!)

Work your way down and use the paint brush to gently help stubborn areas – gently!

Pay particular attention to both the power supply and the CPU fan and heat sink – but be very careful not to allow any condensation. If you see evaporation and white smudge then your are holding the air can to close or spraying for too long.

Step 4 – Check Connections

Before we close up the case, check that all the ribbon cables and other power connections are all tight (and still connected!)

If you have any suspicion that you may have caused condensation then now leave the case open for 20 minutes.

Step 5 – Attach Case Panel

Slide the case panel back on and tighten down the two screws.

Step 6 – Attach Cables

Re-attach all the cables, putting the power cable back last.

Now the moment of truth. Turn the computer back on and make sure it boots up correctly. If you have any problems at this point it is hopefully due to either cables at the back of the computer that are incorrectly plugged, or one of the cables inside is disconnected or incorrect.

Most cables are coded and shaped in such a way that they can only plug in one place. Make sure all the connections are tight.

It’s really pretty hard to actually break the computer while cleaning it unless you’re just rough or knocked something inside. However if the computer will not start up, don’t play too much as this might cause further damage. Take the computer to a competent service provider and have them check it.

No more dust!

Now that your computer is dust-free it will run cooler and better throughout the winter. Enjoy using it and give some thought to maybe doing this again in the spring.


Need help or technical information? Call Foreverwarm Consulting’s mobile support number at 604-715-5107

Foreverwarm Consulting Inc provides peace of mind to small businesses through proactive computer and network support.

Call: 604-715-5107