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My computer blows out a dust cloud when I turn it on

Matt Van Arsdel

Question: My computer blows out a dust cloud each time I turn it on, what can I do about it?

Answer: Like everything else in the house, your computer is going to collect dust and needs to be cleaned on occasion. When a computer is running, it’s central processing unit (CPU) gets very hot and needs to be cooled in order to operate properly. A CPU will have a metal device attached to it called a heat sink, and will have a fan screwed to the heat sink. The heat sink will draw heat away from the CPU and the fan will cool the heat sink so that it keeps the CPU from overheating. If the fan or heat sink is clogged with dust and the CPU is overheating, then that can reduce your computers over all performance, acting sluggish or unresponsive. It is a good idea remove all the dust every three to four months. If you live in a very dusty area, then you may want to clean it more frequently.

To clean the computer, first you will want to get a can of compressed air that you can find at any computer or general household store. Once you have that, shut down your computer, disconnect all cables, take it outside and let it sit for about 5 minutes to cool off.

Next take off the outer casing or side panel to get access to the insides where the dust is. Each computer is different so you may need to refer to the manufacturer’s manual if you are unable to open the case.

Once the case is open, the first thing you must do is ground yourself to the chassis. If you do not, you may have some static electricity in you, which could discharge from you to one or more of the computer components and ruin them and that can be costly. To ground yourself, simply touch the bare metal of the chassis that was exposed when you removed the case. You can also pick up an anti-static wristband that also does the trick, these also can be found at the local computer shop.

Once you have grounded yourself, take your can of compressed air and flush out any dust that you may see. Be sure read all directions and warning labels on the can before using. Blow out all dust that you can find, especially around any fans, heat sinks, intake vents, and exhaust vents as these help provide proper airflow to keep the computer cool.

After you have cleaned out your computer, put the case back on, take back inside, reconnect all cables, and turn it back on. This should help keep that computer running at peak performance.

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