As a computer technician, I have seen some pretty interesting computer problems. The majority of problems I encounter in the home market are adware, spyware or connectivity problems and the occasional hardware problem.
The hardware problems are usually caused by simple manufacturer fault (as in, it was going to fail at one point anyway) or a power surge. However, occasionally I find a computer that was killed by pet hair, dust or cigarette smoke. These three eventually find their way into the computers fans or heatsinks causing the computer to overheat and die.
Over the years I have come across a few bad cases of this and I would love to share some of the photos with you.
Warning: Some of these photos are pretty gross. I purposely kept them at a high resolution so you can see them in all their glory. Click on any of the thumbnails to view the high resolution version.
Edit: Added other computer technicians pictures that they sent in
A client brought in a laptop that kept restarting during bootup. At first, I thought this would be your typical “Windows blue screen of death with the automatic restart option switched on” but the computer didn’t even get to the Windows stage, it would crash out in the CMOS. Suspecting a overheating problem, I entered the BIOS, looked at the temperatures and noticed that they extremely high and climbing. Seconds later, the computer shut itself off again. I knew this was definitely going to be a temperature problem. On the outside, the computer seemed in relatively good shape as seen in the photo below:
I opened up the laptop and looked at the internal parts. The insides were relatively dust free with the exception of a little surface dust in the CPU fan, but nothing that would totally clog it up. So I continued on and took out the heatsink, heatpipe and fan section that is highlighted in red:
I separated the heat sink and the fan and found the problem; a bad case of pet hair. The fan would pull in pet hair through the air vents shown in the first picture and try and push them out the exhaust air vents. However, due to the fine fins on the heatsink it was getting caught and was building up:
I pulled out the hair using tweezers, gave the computer a blast with some compressed air, put it back together and it worked perfectly. Temperature was normal and it ran for a good 5 hours without problems before the client picked it up again. Here is the photo of the ‘hair monster’ I removed:
This computer came in because it wouldn’t boot at all; as if there was no power. This could be caused by a dead power supply, dead CPU or dead motherboard. I opened it up to find out and was greeted with this:
The video card GPU’s heatsink and fan is in there somewhere:
The power supply is barely able to breathe:
.. and the back side of the power supply doesnt look to great either:
To top it off, the side case fan is barely managing to spin:
This computer came in because it wouldn’t boot at all. From the smell of it, I was pretty sure the death of this computer was caused by cigarette smoke. You see, when cigarette smoke and dust collide in a computer, it produces this weird dusty-tar combination that has a pasty texture. Its brown, it smells bad and is hard to remove. It turns out that the CPU had overheated and died on this computer because airflow generated by the fan was unable to get air into the heatsink fins; here’s why:
I tried to pull it off as a whole by getting my tweezers in between the heatsink fins and pushing the the layer of dust/tar up:
One of our forum members recently encountered a computer like this and complained about how gross it is, then another member replied:
“Just think, for the pain that they gave you with their computer, imagine whats happening in their lungs”
I’m just glad that I havent encountered a cockroach infestation inside a computer like some computer technicians have.
Other Computer Technicians pictures that have been sent in
David Jone’s Encounter
“The pictures attached of a computer I had to clean, probably the worse one, I now carry a small low air compressor with me when I go out to the premises to carry out repairs, with the drought there seems to be more dirty ones about”
This one also looks like a smokers computer.
“Pete here – I am a tech based on the Gold Coast. Thought you’d like to see Kermit…..
One of my customers had some weird things going on with their monitor (strange colours and lines on the screen). I immediately thought graphics card, but when I took the side off I was surprised to find a very small (and very dead) frog sitting on top of the card. It had “leaked” frog juice onto the graphics card components and caused a bit of corrosion. The strange thing is that Kermit was completely dry so may have been there for some time. I would have thought there would have been a problem earlier, while he was still wet!”