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How to vacuum your desktop…safely!

I wish you could have heard my desktop computer an hour ago. It was making a nasty wheezing noise that did not bode well at all. Now, it’s humming with the soft, barely-there sound you’d expect from a brand new pc! And yes, I did vacuum it. Read on to find out if I’m crazy or not. 😀

But first, a warning: do not think you can take shortcuts. You have to follow these instructions to the letter or face the consequences. The first time I tried this, I was a tad over-confident and ended up frying my motherboard. If you don’t know what a motherboard is, stop reading right now.

Okay, now that we’ve got that warning out of the way, let’s start with why any sane person would want to vacuum the inside of their computer in the first place. The answer is simple: money.

Unless you live in a sealed bubble, your desktop pc will accumulate dust, on the inside as well as the outside. That dust will gather on all the internal surfaces, especially on the blades of the fans and on the grills beneath the fans. Those fans and grills are the ‘lungs’ of your computer. When they become clogged, your computer will struggle to keep all the vital bits cool. If your computer overheats, seriously, it will eventually just stop until it can cool down.

But you won’t know that your computer is only cooling down. You will think that it has died. In a panic, you will gather it tenderly in your arms and take it to the nearest computer repair shop where:

  • you will be charged for a tech to clean out all the dust [best case scenario and only if the tech is honest] or…
  • you will be told that you need a brand new motherboard, or power supply, or harddrive or…oh my god, your pc’s totally stuffed, mate, but I happen to have this nice one over here on special….

Either way, that dust is going to cost you money, and if money is tight, that could be a real problem. So instead of paying someone else to do your cleaning for you, why not learn to do it yourself?

And it is at this point of my post that I have to send a huge thank you to my very honest computer tech Abraham Liu! Abraham has built and repaired my computers for years, and he is also the one who taught me how to dust the inside of my computer safely.

If you live in the Eltham area, Abraham has a tech shop in Bridge Street called One Touch. It’s almost on the roundabout near Bunnings. Or look him up:

https://www.onetouchcomputers.com.au/

Right, now to the nitty gritty, excuse the pun.

  1. FIRST! Buy yourself a smallish, bristle paintbrush and some bamboo skewers. This is vital as natural materials don’t build static and static can kill your computer.
  2. Then…turn your pc off [yeah, I know, obvious but…]
  3. Unplug all the connections to your  pc [taking note of what goes where – a pic is helpful]
  4. Take the side cover off your pc [and don’t lose the 2 screws that hold it in place!]
  5. Take the head off your barrel type vacuum cleaner so that only the tube is connected to the hose
  6. Turn the vacuum on and hold the hose over but not in the pc while you use the paintbrush to sweep the dust into the SUCTION. Do not try to vacuum the dust directly with the end of the vacuum. The end of the vacuum hose should never touch anything inside the pc. Only the bristles of the paintbrush should connect with all those delicate surfaces.

Pay particular attention to all the fans inside your pc, this includes the fan on top of the cpu and any fans you may have on the video card. Getting the dust off the blades is fairly easy, but getting the dust balls off the grill behind the fans is not. Unfortunately, clogged grills are precisely the problem, so this is where the bamboo skewers come in very handy.

Put the vacuum hose down and tap your fingers against the frame of the pc. This is to ground any static that may have built up. Synthetic fibres in carpet and clothing can very quickly build static that you only notice when it discharges. When I wear a particular fleecy jacket, Buffa’s ears get little zaps that we can both feel when I pat him.

  • So discharge that static before you put your hand inside the pc.
  • Hold the fan still with one hand while you poke the bamboo skewer between the blades to reach the dust collected on the grill at the back. Pull the dust balls out [and wipe them on a non-synthetic cloth] until the grill is clean. [Do not poke the skewer all the way through..duh]
  • When all the fans are as clean as you can get them, brush the dust off all the other surfaces and catch it with the vacuum hose. Remember! Vacuum the air, not the pc.

Tip: if you have a hair-dryer, you can blow the dust from the pc into the air so the vacuum can suck it up. If not, just keep brushing [again, commonsense dictates that your don’t cook the components by overheating them with your hairdryer -rolls eyes-].

You’ll never get the pc absolutely dust free, but a little loose dust won’t do it any harm. It’s the dust balls over the grills of the fan [in particular, over the cpu] that do the damage. Once the inside is as clean as you can make it, replace the cover, re-connect all the fittings [power last!] and turn your pc on. It should run so softly that you can barely hear it.

You’re welcome. 😀

Meeks

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