How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Enclosures, modding, blowholes, and the power needed to run it all.

Moderators: Nemesis, SpotTheCat

How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:07 pm

Topic says it all. I have a silverstone FT02. Its the ultimate case. However, even it is not totally immune to dust. How do I remove dust from case fans and internal components effectively?
i7 2600k @4.4 ghz 1.26v - GA-P67X-UD3 - 16gb Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600mhz - Evga Geforce GTX 570 - 2x 120gb Vertex 3 Raid-0 - Seagate Barracude 1.5TB - Silverstone FT02- HP 2709M Monitor
Sunburn74
Gerbil Team Leader
 
Posts: 278
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:45 am

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:17 pm

Sunburn74 wrote:Topic says it all. I have a silverstone FT02. Its the ultimate case. However, even it is not totally immune to dust. How do I remove dust from case fans and internal components effectively?

The only way to get everything "new-in-box" clean is to completely disassemble the entire box and clean everything by hand. In the real world several cans of Dust-Off and careful (and I do mean CAREFUL) use of a vacuum cleaner will get you to 90%. The vaccum cleaner is used primarily to suck up the flying dust bunnies created by the Dust-Off. Sticking the business end in your computer case is generally considered a Bad Idea due to the static fields all that moving air and schmutz can generate.
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Captain Ned
Global Moderator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 20058
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:27 pm

So what exactly do I do with the vacuum cleaner? Just hold it above the open the case door?
i7 2600k @4.4 ghz 1.26v - GA-P67X-UD3 - 16gb Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600mhz - Evga Geforce GTX 570 - 2x 120gb Vertex 3 Raid-0 - Seagate Barracude 1.5TB - Silverstone FT02- HP 2709M Monitor
Sunburn74
Gerbil Team Leader
 
Posts: 278
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:45 am

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:38 pm

Sunburn74 wrote:So what exactly do I do with the vacuum cleaner? Just hold it above the open the case door?

Yep. The Dust-Off will fire dust into the air, which you then suck up with the vaccum.
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Captain Ned
Global Moderator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 20058
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: Vermont, USA

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:39 pm

Yeah, too high a risk in my opinion.

High power vacuum cleaner might as well be a tesla Generator for the amount of static that is generates.

I'd stick with the canned air.
mdk77777
Gerbil XP
 
Posts: 345
Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:42 pm

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:47 pm

For case filters I generally just use a hoover (taking the filter out first).

For fans and heatsinks I use a 1/2" paint brush (just jab it into the fans/fins and mash it about until all to clumps have been broken up / knocked off).

For boards etc you're supposed to think about static so could use an air duster (AKA "a can of air"), but these are a bit pricey if you use them a lot. I'm also not entirely convinced they don't tend to blow dust further into things. They are pretty handy for cleaning out say, the inside of a dimm slot before fitting a new module. Personally for a normal clean I either don't bother with with the boards or just brush the worst of it off with my trusty paint brush. You don't want to rub them too much because of static and unless the dust is REALLY thick it isn't doing any harm.

Not that you have to spend every spare second cleaning the insides of you're computer out... they can get pretty filthy inside and keep on chugging:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/13/ventblockers/
By constantly stripping a machine, cleaning and rebuilding you're far more likely to break something than improve it's life span because it's spotlessly clean.
Fernando!
Your mother ate my dog!
cheesyking
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
 
Posts: 2238
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:52 am
Location: That London (or so I'm told)

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:54 pm

cheesyking wrote:For boards etc you're supposed to think about static so could use an air duster (AKA "a can of air"), but these are a bit pricey if you use them a lot.

They're not too bad if you buy 'em by the case at Costco.
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37400
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:11 pm

mdk77777 wrote:Yeah, too high a risk in my opinion.

High power vacuum cleaner might as well be a tesla Generator for the amount of static that is generates.

I'd stick with the canned air.

um. they DO sell anti-static vacuum cleaners you know... for computers. :o

http://www.nextag.com/computer-vacuum/stores-html
thegleek
Darth Gerbil
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 7355
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2003 11:06 am
Location: Detroit, MI

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:28 pm

Gases do not take a triboelectric charge. If there's a triboelectric process taking place when using compressed (or uncompressed) air, it's due to the kinetic energy of the dust or other schmutz as it gets bumped about, and that's a function of velocity. Hence, there's no problem using a vacuum cleaner to suck airborne particles away from recently fluffed motherboard. You can even use the vacuum cleaner in reverse to blow the crud off, as long as you're careful about using a decent filter in the air stream. Whenever I change the filter on my shopvac, the first thing I do is blow out all the PC's and other electronics (looked inside your receiver recently?). I do all this outside, of course, and the cloud is impressive. :D
This problem was caused by Windows, which was created by Microsoft Corporation.
sluggo
Gerbil Jedi
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 1536
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:44 pm
Location: under the table and dreaming

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:56 am

TL;DR

If you're still interested:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IvSz5NSOMk
look at the related vids. also. Best way is to buy small electric air compressor, compressed air fo' life!
nVidia video drivers FAIL, click for more info
Disclaimer: All answers and suggestions are provided by an enthusiastic amateur and are therefore without warranty either explicit or implicit. Basically you use my suggestions at your own risk.
Arclight
Gerbil Elite
 
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:50 am

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:09 pm

sluggo wrote:Gases do not take a triboelectric charge. If there's a triboelectric process taking place when using compressed (or uncompressed) air, it's due to the kinetic energy of the dust or other schmutz as it gets bumped about, and that's a function of velocity. Hence, there's no problem using a vacuum cleaner to suck airborne particles away from recently fluffed motherboard. You can even use the vacuum cleaner in reverse to blow the crud off, as long as you're careful about using a decent filter in the air stream.

But once the air stream hits the things you're trying to dust off, it'll be full of dust again! Or is the primary concern with elecrical charges that get picked up by the dust on its way up the vacuum hose, and not electrical charges the dust from inside the computer picks up as it swirls around?

Regardless, I imagine that if static charges from swirling dust was *that* much of a concern, using the standard "Dust Off" cans of compressed gas would be problematic as well. (Obviously they're not, since almost everybody uses 'em...)
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37400
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:19 pm

http://www.amazon.com/Metro-Vacuum-ED50 ... 690&sr=8-3

Yes, I know it says vacuum, but it's not a vacuum. It is a tiny air compressor. Think canned air on steroids.
"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!"
Ryu Connor
Global Moderator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 3500
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2001 7:00 pm
Location: Marietta, GA

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:21 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:http://www.amazon.com/Metro-Vacuum-ED500-500-Watt-Electric/dp/B001J4ZOAW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1326820690&sr=8-3

Yes, I know it says vacuum, but it's not a vacuum. It is a tiny air compressor. Think canned air on steroids.



Yup that's a good one. They had a "club" on overclock.net with owners of this kind air compressors. It certainly is a must for old time computer geeks.
nVidia video drivers FAIL, click for more info
Disclaimer: All answers and suggestions are provided by an enthusiastic amateur and are therefore without warranty either explicit or implicit. Basically you use my suggestions at your own risk.
Arclight
Gerbil Elite
 
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:50 am

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:27 pm

Take it outside and use a can of air. The breeze will whisp away the dust. Also, I always make sure to hold the fan blades from moving when the can of air hits them. I've heard that unpowered spinning fans create a generator effect with the fan motor and can cause harm to the system. I had a cheapo PSU die on me back in college when I liked to watch the fans spin real fast with the can of air pointed at them. Not sure if the spinning fans were the culprit for the failure, but thats what I'm crediting it to.
i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-m, Asus GTX660 TOP, 120 GB Vertex 3 Max IOPS, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 8GB G-Skill @1.25V, Silverstone PS07B
DPete27
Gerbil Jedi
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:50 pm
Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:31 pm

+1 canned air.

I have a vacuum cleaner hose in my other hand and the duststorm kicked up by the canned air is %90 collected by the vacuum cleaner if you hold the nozzle within a few inches of what you're aiming the canned air at.

Hold fan blades gently with one finger to stop them spinning unpowered at silly RPM's if you plan on getting those clean enough.

Also don't ever worry about getting everything super-clean. Your OCD will just mean more risk of damage.
<insert large, flashing, epileptic-fit-inducing signature (based on the latest internet-meme) here>
Chrispy_
Gerbil Jedi
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 1721
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:49 pm

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:38 pm

DPete27 wrote:Take it outside and use a can of air. The breeze will whisp away the dust. Also, I always make sure to hold the fan blades from moving when the can of air hits them. I've heard that unpowered spinning fans create a generator effect with the fan motor and can cause harm to the system. I had a cheapo PSU die on me back in college when I liked to watch the fans spin real fast with the can of air pointed at them. Not sure if the spinning fans were the culprit for the failure, but thats what I'm crediting it to.



From what i heard you should never allow any fan to spin when you use compressed air to clean the dust. Just use a pencil/pen something to hold the fan from spinning then blow the air over it....idk if what you say is the reason but i know for sure the compressed air can make it spin faster than the rotor is rated at to spin, damaging the rotor.
nVidia video drivers FAIL, click for more info
Disclaimer: All answers and suggestions are provided by an enthusiastic amateur and are therefore without warranty either explicit or implicit. Basically you use my suggestions at your own risk.
Arclight
Gerbil Elite
 
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:50 am

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:48 pm

I use my air compressor. I take the computer outside if I'm not feeling too lazy.

Canned air is pathetic. Air compressor is awesome. There are several advantages to this:
you don't run out of air - just keep blowing and blowing and blowing until every last crevice is clear
you don't have to intermittently wait for the solvent to evaporate
you can adjust the supplied air flow
instead of maneuvering a big can you only have to maneuver an air nozzle
you can pick the air nozzle of you choice
take it outside and you don't need the vacuum
best of all, the air compressor can be used for so many other things around the house

And while it may sound dangerous or something, it is not. I've done this more times than I can count. And you can turn the valve on the compressor to adjust the supplied air pressure as desired.
flip-mode
Gerbil Khan
Silver subscriber
 
 
Posts: 9083
Joined: Thu May 08, 2003 12:42 pm
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:41 pm

just brew it! wrote:
sluggo wrote:Gases do not take a triboelectric charge. If there's a triboelectric process taking place when using compressed (or uncompressed) air, it's due to the kinetic energy of the dust or other schmutz as it gets bumped about, and that's a function of velocity. Hence, there's no problem using a vacuum cleaner to suck airborne particles away from recently fluffed motherboard. You can even use the vacuum cleaner in reverse to blow the crud off, as long as you're careful about using a decent filter in the air stream.

But once the air stream hits the things you're trying to dust off, it'll be full of dust again! Or is the primary concern with elecrical charges that get picked up by the dust on its way up the vacuum hose, and not electrical charges the dust from inside the computer picks up as it swirls around?

Regardless, I imagine that if static charges from swirling dust was *that* much of a concern, using the standard "Dust Off" cans of compressed gas would be problematic as well. (Obviously they're not, since almost everybody uses 'em...)


Well, the key word in my second sentence was "if". I was just trying to clear up the apparent misconception about a moving stream of air being a source of static. I mentioned the velocity function because in the example of blowing out a computer the kinetic energies of the dust particles are so low as to preclude any significant charge from building up. In a previous life I took a field strength meter around to electronic rework stations to weed out static generators. I expected to find the compressed air nozzles to be the worst offenders, but the cello tape dispensers were the champs. Up to 15kV from those, depending on the width of the tape and how hard one pulled.
This problem was caused by Windows, which was created by Microsoft Corporation.
sluggo
Gerbil Jedi
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 1536
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:44 pm
Location: under the table and dreaming

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:58 pm

sluggo wrote:In a previous life I took a field strength meter around to electronic rework stations to weed out static generators. I expected to find the compressed air nozzles to be the worst offenders, but the cello tape dispensers were the champs. Up to 15kV from those, depending on the width of the tape and how hard one pulled.

I believe it. I recall reading an article a couple of years ago about some scientists who discovered that unrolling Scotch tape in a vacuum generates nanosecond-scale bursts of X-rays, so there must be some unbelievably intense electric fields being generated (albeit over a microscopically short distance) as the adhesive peels free!
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37400
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:42 pm

Am I the only one who uses water to wash the fans. Any PCBA worth its salt should be able to stand some water.
Intel i7 2700K @ 4.7GHz 1.35v | Megahalems Rev.C + 2x Gentle Typhoon AP15 | ASUS M4E-Z | Corsair Vengeance 16GB @ 1600MHz | MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III | OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 120GB SSD | PCP&C Silencer Mk II 750W | Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
kitsura
Gerbil Team Leader
 
Posts: 200
Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2002 11:39 pm
Location: In front of my computer, Duh...

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:45 pm

kitsura wrote:Am I the only one who uses water to wash the fans. Any PCBA worth its salt should be able to stand some water.

As long as you make *absolutely* certain it is completely dry before powering it back up...

Fan bearings don't like water much though; depending on how wet you're getting the fan, and how well the bearings are sealed, you may be shortening the life of the fans.
(this space intentionally left blank)
just brew it!
Administrator
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 37400
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:15 pm

DPete27 wrote:Also, I always make sure to hold the fan blades from moving when the can of air hits them. I've heard that unpowered spinning fans create a generator effect with the fan motor and can cause harm to the system.

This would be true in a conventional DC motor application, and I still remember somebody's elementary-school science fair project that had a fishline reel tied into a DC hobby motor with a lightbulb -- crank the reel, get light. Brushless DC motors used in all modern computer fans, however, are multi-phase designs with a controller chip and switching transistors, and reverse power flow isn't possible through such a system unless it has been designed for it.

A greater problem, if the compressor's exit force is strong enough, is that the lateral stress placed on the bearing by aiming the nozzle at just one point on the blades can crush the bearing, loosening it up and greatly shortening the fan life. Blowing the fan into overspeed, as Arclight noted, also prematurely wears out the bearing.
He who laughs last, laughs first next time.
ludi
Gerbil Elder
 
Posts: 5388
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 10:47 pm
Location: Sunny Colorado front range

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:39 pm

I can't say I've ever worried too much about it, but then I'm not OCD about such things. I try to put filters on every opening on my desktop, and I remove and vacuum those out a couple of times a year; unless the heatsinks or DIMMS are looking furry, I don't really worry about the inside of the case. (I do use canned air to blow out laptops from time to time, since it's hard to know how bad the furball situation is getting without major surgery).

I always assumed the static issue with vacuums in particular has to do with a charge building up on the vacuum nozzle itself (which are generally some kind of plastic) due to the dust moving over it, rather than the stream of air (however dusty it might be), so an anti-static vacuum would have to have a grounded, conductive nozzle (and vacuuming a running computer would be even more contraindicated than usual). I don't see that in those linked "computer" vacuums -- and in fact I don't see any claims of "anti-static" for those at all. They're just... small.

And now I've just written "vacuum" more times than I have since college. What an odd word. Vacuum. Vacuum. Vacuuuuuum.
just brew it! wrote:
sluggo wrote:In a previous life I took a field strength meter around to electronic rework stations to weed out static generators. I expected to find the compressed air nozzles to be the worst offenders, but the cello tape dispensers were the champs. Up to 15kV from those, depending on the width of the tape and how hard one pulled.
I believe it. I recall reading an article a couple of years ago about some scientists who discovered that unrolling Scotch tape in a vacuum generates nanosecond-scale bursts of X-rays, so there must be some unbelievably intense electric fields being generated (albeit over a microscopically short distance) as the adhesive peels free!
Non-permanent adhesives are really weird, when you think about it; residue-less ones like on sticky notes even more so. Scientists have been trying to figure out, and duplicate, things like gecko feet for a long time; there are some wild atomic-level phenomena involved. (I love that the Air Force is sponsoring this research: once upon a time, the DoD gave us the internet; someday soon, maybe spiderman boots)
UberGerbil
Gerbil Khan
 
Posts: 9963
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2003 3:11 pm

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:18 am

i bought some recharagable "Turbo Air" duster from buy.com a couple of years ago for like $9. its a 9" long cylindrical tube with a high speed fan inside of it. you hold the button down to make it work. It actually works great at blowing the dust out and even came with a brush and a funnel attachment. best part is i dont have to breath what comes out of the spray air cans. that stuff makes me sick. of course buying a case with fan filters helps go a long way of keeping dust out of your PC in the first place.
i7-4770k, ASRock Z87 Extreme6, Radeon 6870, 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1600, Creative SB Z, Samsung 830 128 GB SSD, 2x 1TB WD Black HDD, Windows 8.1 Pro
ALIAS
Gerbil Elite
 
Posts: 671
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2004 5:59 pm
Location: Texas

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:10 am

I have been carefully using a very soft 'paint' brush with about 40mm long 'horse?' hair which loosens that stuff near fans and boards etc, I then follow with a small hand pump that is used for inflating basketballs (it has a valve in it , so every stroke pushes air) to blow the finer dust out of the case. Takes about 2-3 mins to do a complete box and is reusable therefore cheap. Cheers
oblacker
Gerbil In Training
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:08 pm

Re: How to clean dust from a PC case and case fans

Postposted on Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:19 am

Canned air + shop vac for me. One in each hand and go to town.
SpotTheCat
Gerbilus Supremus
 
Posts: 12260
Joined: Wed Jan 29, 2003 12:47 am
Location: a regular hole


Return to Cases and Power Supplies

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 3 guests