Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

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Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:50 am

Hi guys, im here again looking for your help.my computer has many dust. Including case fans, and im planning to clean it using a vacuum and a soft brush. Do you think using a vacuum in cleaning is a good idea? Specially the heatsink, as i looked at some of the rails of my heatsink, (dnt know whats the exact name) it some dusts and i want to remove it without detaching the heatsink to cpu so i wont apply past again since i just recently applied paste to it. Pls confirm gius, thank you so much..
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:31 am

You can buy special small vacuums to use on computers, but you can use a regular house vacuum if you're careful. It won't hurt, but if you're using a regular house vacuum you'll want to start with the vacuum far away and only move as close as you need to in order to suck up the dust. Also, you don't want the fans to spin, so stick a pencil into the fans to stop them from spinning in the suction created by the vacuum. Also make sure to not touch the vacuum to any parts, and don't brush anything too hard.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:57 am

While the risk is usually negligible, I don't trust it. I'd rather use an air compressor and blow it out.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:31 am

I plan to use a house vacuum since i dont have air compressor or they say the air that is in a small can, and a special vacuum for computers. And yeah, im also thinking that house vacuum is way too strong to suck air and i will just hold it far away from the parts.


About the air compressor, i want to use that, but i dont know how to use it. Some say it might damage the computer parts if i dont do it right because it might give away liquid instead of air. And also, i dont know where to buy it in philippines i tried to ask at local shops but they dont have one. So i guess ill be leaving that as my last resort and prefer to use my vacuum since this is only what i have.. :-?
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:35 am

I generally use a can of Dust Off to dislodge dust from heatsinks and other parts, but with a vacuum held nearby to catch as much of the flying dust as possible. If you just let it fly around the room a lot of it is going to get sucked right back into your system, and it's not good to be breathing all that dust either.

For particularly nasty buildup I lug the whole system outside to the back yard for cleaning, to get the dust out of the house. I don't let mine get bad enough to require an outdoor cleaning, but I've dealt with other peoples' systems where the HSF had basically turned into a solid dust brick, complete with dead flies that had gotten sucked into the HSF and compacted into the dust mass.

While it is theoretically possible to spin a fan fast enough to damage it by hitting it with a blast of compressed air, as long as you are using short bursts I think the risk is over-blown (heh). Just don't sit there trying to see how fast you can make the fan spin (that gets kind of expensive anyway if you're using a can of Dust Off instead of a compressor).
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:49 am

Don't clean any actual electronics with a vacuum, unless it's an ESD-sensitive vacuum. Just use compressed air.

You can use a vacuum on your case, fans, and heatsink with pretty much no risk. I don't know how you could possibly damage a fan with a vacuum unless you had the world's strongest vacuum or just weren't interested in cleaning the fan and instead fixated on how fast you could make it spin.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:09 am

I prefer to use my shopvac on the blower setting from a distance. Compressed air doesn't have enough umph for me. It just swirls the dust around the bottom of the case.

Now on my radiator for my main PC I do use compressed air.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:01 pm

Ditiris wrote:Don't clean any actual electronics with a vacuum, unless it's an ESD-sensitive vacuum. Just use compressed air.

You can use a vacuum on your case, fans, and heatsink with pretty much no risk. I don't know how you could possibly damage a fan with a vacuum unless you had the world's strongest vacuum or just weren't interested in cleaning the fan and instead fixated on how fast you could make it spin.


This; though I would say, from a system builder's perspective, that dust inside the case shouldn't be a problem if filters are used on the intake, and the case has more air intake than exhaust.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:30 pm

Interestingly enough, I've experimented with both positive and negative pressure in my case (dust filters on the intakes) and dust still stuffs up my fans and heatsinks over time.

I just have to clean it out every once in a while.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:20 pm

Airmantharp wrote:This; though I would say, from a system builder's perspective, that dust inside the case shouldn't be a problem if filters are used on the intake, and the case has more air intake than exhaust.

Live with a long-haired cat. All theories on case ventilation are void, as I can guarantee that you will find long-hair cat fuzz in everything even with filters and positive internal pressure.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:36 pm

Easy cleaning setup...

One small shopvac with blower option ONLY used for cleaning in blow mode...

Some small and medium sized artist paint brushes,

One good room air cleaner. Or a window with a box fan blowing out.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:55 pm

Eh, I always used a vacuum at home to suck all the dust from inside teh cases and components, sometimes using a brush-like attachment (for example when cleaning CPU heatsinks)... Never damaged anything, and much better than blowing dust all over yourself and causing an asthma attack or sneezing (if you're allergic to something that dust contains), especially since I don't even have to go outside when cleaning, especially during a cold or rainy weather (I don't have a garage to do such stuff at) :wink: You just have to be careful and try to not hit any surface-mounted components on your mobo or video/audio cards.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:07 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:This; though I would say, from a system builder's perspective, that dust inside the case shouldn't be a problem if filters are used on the intake, and the case has more air intake than exhaust.

Live with a long-haired cat. All theories on case ventilation are void, as I can guarantee that you will find long-hair cat fuzz in everything even with filters and positive internal pressure.

We have a cat too, which does have a somewhat long hairs and likes to shed them all over teh house... However, I basically never clean CPU/VGA heatsinks in my awesome Antec P183 case - the front intake filters do a proper job filtering almost all of the dust and all of the hairs (and it takes 1 minute to clean all of the filters with teh vacuum cleaner without even removing them from the case) and I used tape to seal off all the "redundant" holes (such as small holes on back of the case) through which non-filtered air can get in. Of course, I don't do any overclocking right now, so all case fans run at lowest speed...
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:15 pm

The trouble with vacuum is that it's possible to suck off components from printed circuit boards. I've never done that, though I have sucked up jumpers. Just be careful. Another concern is static discharge. The vacuum hose is usually plastic and the airborne particles rushing though it can build up a pretty hefty charge. Careful not to zap the components.

I found out the hard way that the contents of compressed air cans burns really good. Error no 1 was tilting the can to much so some liquid left the can and spread all over. Error no 2 was that it was the X-mas season so there was a live candle nearby. Whosh, all my dust filters that I was trying to clean burned up in a couple of seconds. Got a solid "whomph" through my case, just like a gasoline puff. Everything worked fine afterwards, but all my filters were ash. Including some of those expensive demciflex ones. Agh.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:11 am

Pholostan wrote:I found out the hard way that the contents of compressed air cans burns really good.

Sure 'nuff. Just read the back of the can sitting on my desk here. Among other warnings: "This product can be ignited under certain circumstances." Guess you figured out what those "certain circumstances" are!

Edit: Now you've got me wondering about the wisdom of my practice of using a vacuum to suck up the dust that I dislodge with the Dust Off can. I wonder if there are "certain circumstances" where a spark from the motor could ignite the vapors passing through the vacuum cleaner?
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:43 am

JBI, I do not think you will ever get a vacuum to set off the fumes from a can of air.....not enough fuel to air ratio. Plus most all vacuums expel the vacuumed air past the motor to keep it cool.

To the OP the vacuum is safe for fans and heatsinks "i use one for my radiator and fans" but i would never ever touch motherboard, video card boards with the brush...if you do you are just asking for trouble.

Heck do they not have gas stations with coin operated tire fillers? You could use one of those. I would just make sure its not blowing out any water...i imagine its pretty humid where you live.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:08 am

vargis14 wrote:Plus most all vacuums expel the vacuumed air past the motor to keep it cool.

Yes, that was exactly my point -- the fumes are likely passing *through* the motor. But you're probably right that the fuel-to-air ratio is way too low (and the fact that we don't hear stories about people inadvertently turning their vacuums into flamethrowers argues for it being rather unlikely in any case).

Maybe if you inverted the can and shot the entire contents directly into the vacuum hose you could have an issue though? :lol:
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:16 am

just brew it! wrote:Maybe if you inverted the can and shot the entire contents directly into the vacuum hose you could have an issue though? :lol:
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:39 pm

No no no... you've got to save that trick for when the zombie apocalypse comes, and you need to Macgyver a flamethrower..
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:51 pm

I am sure I've seen the Mythbusters test the shopvac explosion thing, and they had trouble making any kind of spark. Even with old models, they had to intentionally damage them to get any results.

As to the OP, I personally like the method discussed above (I think it was JBI) where you blow with compressed air (can or compressor) and have the vacuum evacuating the case to get the dust out. I do mine every year cause we've got dogs and SoCal dust.
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IMO: blow instead of suck

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:57 pm

Get one of these, it comes in handy for other stuff too.

I've seen it cheaper, but its paid for by the 10th can of air anyways. Take it outside, better to be rid of the dust completely then move it from one container to another along with any the filter misses staying indoors.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:51 am

ericfulmer wrote:I am sure I've seen the Mythbusters test the shopvac explosion thing, and they had trouble making any kind of spark. Even with old models, they had to intentionally damage them to get any results.

Correct...the advantage to using a shopvac is that the wet-dry design requires sealing the motor away from the airstream.
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:56 pm

Ok, how about i use air compressor? That thing like a machine and it has small air nozzle, am i right? Could i just use it spraying all over the case not using vacuum? I just spray it all over the case until all the dust go away since im gonna do it outside.. Is it ok?
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Re: Cleaning hardware with vacuum could damage parts??

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:40 pm

tigidig3x wrote:Ok, how about i use air compressor? That thing like a machine and it has small air nozzle, am i right? Could i just use it spraying all over the case not using vacuum? I just spray it all over the case until all the dust go away since im gonna do it outside.. Is it ok?

Yup, that should be fine.
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