Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Off Topic: Power supply fire



A little over a year ago, Amanda bought a new Dell Studio desktop. During an electrical storm recently, it awoke from standby and started smelling of burning electronics. This smell woke Amanda up (it was the middle of the night), and she, naturally, woke me up. She had tracked the smell down to her computer by this point, and noted that one of the fans was running loudly.

I opened the thing up so I could tell Amanda something comforting and go back to sleep. I made sure important components weren't actually on fire.

The smell dissipated by morning and her computer was still working, though it would regularly hang for a few moments, the power supply fan would kick on high speed, and it would then it would continue working.

The following evening I opened up the power supply and found these things:


Burn marks on the board (center, dark brown spot), and...


capacitors and other components showing signs of overheating. The capacitors are swollen, though that's hard to tell here. That small ring with the wire coiled around it and the cracking white stuff is called a choke, and, as I suspected, is used for reducing electrical noise/interference. I didn't know what it was until I went looking on the magical interwebs. The white stuff is not supposed to be flaking off like that.

I don't know what, exactly, sprayed onto the heatsink (large aluminum block) like that. Anyway, all these stressed components resulted in the power supply working inefficiently and causing the fan to kick on whenever you demanded processing power from the computer.

I found a replacement among mine and my dad's pile of computer parts. All is well.

1 comment:

  1. You're very handy. Thank you.

    The picture of the kid sitting on a garbage pile makes me feel funny inside.

    ReplyDelete