Does dust and cigarette smoke damage your computer?

The simple answer is yes, a build-up of dust and repeated exposure to cigarette smoke can harm your computer. Another culprit is pet hair which accumulates on your machine.

These things can damage your computer in different ways – can cause overheating, damage to components and disrupt the airflow.

Dust can be the source of overheating as it accumulates on top of the heat sink, the circuits on the motherboard, on the power supply and on laptop vents. If there is a build-up of dust, pet hair and enough smoke, this can disrupt the airflow which is needed to keep parts of the computer cool. A build-up of dust functions as insulation causing the computer to heat up.  If the situation is really bad it can cause the fans to stop working. Overheating can result in the computer shutting down to prevent damage to components such as CPU and motherboard. In addition, the thermal paste can break down and become ineffective. Dust can also interfere with electrical connections on ports and connections causing erratic results. Intense heat can cause critical components to fail unexpectedly.

Signs that dust, smoke and hair are causing problems for your computer

Dust, smoke and hair can cause the fans to run at a higher speed – when this occurs they run louder and you may notice the difference. Another way to tell is to run a program which will tell you the temperature of the CPU – most computers have a built-in CPU temperature probe. You should measure the base temperature by measuring five minutes after a boot and your computer should not be running any programs. As a guide, a base temperature should be around 55 degrees Celsius. Another way to tell is to check the temperature of the hard drive by again running a program to do so. For a hard drive, the temperature should be within the range of 20 to 55 degrees Celsius.

How to prevent dust from entering your machine

Keep the computer in an elevated position of the floor, possibly on a desk.

Ensure the machine away from any air vents.

Keep the area around the computer clean.

After removing a PCXI card or switching around graphics care, cover up any PCI slots or holes that are not necessary for proper ventilation.

How can I prevent from overheating?

Besides the preventative measures above you also need to regularly clean out the dust and pet hair with a can of air, small leaf blower or small electric blower – do not use the vacuum cleaner. This cleaning is usually only needed annually unless you smoke a lot and have one or more pets with long hair. Please remember that opening a computer’s case may void the warranty so you may need to check with the manufacturer first if it is still under warranty.

Remember, dust, smoke and pet hair can cause damage to your computer including component failure – should this happen the damaged component will need to be replaced.  If this is the case, give us a call on 3397 1215 or 0409 974 707 and we will replace the damaged component for you for a fixed fee of $145 plus the cost of the part which needs to be replaced.

Does dust and cigarette smoke damage your computer?

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