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How warm is too hot ?

Too hot is just before the smoke appears...

OUCH! Your Computer Should Not Be To Hot To Touch!

A friend called me the other day said that his laptop (Toshiba) would run for about ten to fifteen minutes then shut down didn't matter if it was on battery or AC.

I had him bring it by and we powered it up, sure enough after twelve minutes (I timed it) it shut down, it didn't beep or any thing just a black screen, powered down.

So out of curiosity I pressed the power button and it came back up with out any problems.

After he logged on I checked the Power Settings for battery, STBY at 30 minutes, Hibernate at 1 hour. Hard drive shuts down after 15 minutes, monitor also at 15 minutes.

So it isn't the Windows Power settings.

Then it shut down again. I told him we would boot from a boot cd from now on, if it keeps shutting down ungracefully the OS will become corrupt on the hard drive.

I powered it up again this time I selected the BIOS Setup.

Checking the power settings for Processor, Hard Drive, and Video Display along with the STBY mode. Looks ok, nothing that would make the computer shut down completely.

Then I picked up the laptop to move over, DARN the underside of the laptop was HOT! In fact I almost dropped (about 2" to the table top) but slid my hand back and saved it.

Question to my friend: "Has the laptop always been that searing on the left bottom corner?"

Him: "Not until recently."

Me: "Was that about the time it started shutting down?"

Him" "About a week later it started shutting down"

I take a can of air and put the nozzle in the Processor Fan exhaust port on the left side, taking a wet paper towel I put it behind the computer where the Fan intake port is then hit the canned air trigger. The dust that came out of that intake port was amazing.

Next I take the paper towel and put it in front of the exhaust port, put the canned air nozzle in the intake port, press the trigger, a bunch more dust comes out.

I do this three times (using short bursts of air, don't want to get the fan spinning too fast) until nothing comes out of either port.

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Next I power up the laptop, let the cd load the OS, timing it to see if it is going to shut down again. I put my hand in front of the exhaust port, there is some air flow but I don't think it is strong enough. I put my ear closer to the laptop to see if I can hear the fan, it is running but the sound seems a little faint, not quite as loud as I am used to.

The laptop doesn't shut down but when I touch the under side of the laptop it is still very hot, almost too searing to touch.

I ask my friend to touch the underside of the laptop and ask if that is normal.

He says it has always been hot to the touch but this seems to be a little hotter than before.

The laptop has now been running for over twenty minutes, I take the canned air and squeeze a short burst of air in the intake port for the fan, some more dust comes out and the fan sound increases.

We let it run for another twenty minutes and touch the underside of the laptop, still searing but not uncomfortable enough for me to want to move my hand right away.

I listen closely to the Processor fan, it is still at about the same level as it was when I gave it a short burst of canned air. I check the air flow from the exhaust port, still a little weak in my opinion.

I am in a quandary: Give the fan another short burst of air or let it go? (If you spin a fan up to fast with air you are taking a chance on the bearings being burnt out and the fan locking up).

I tell my friend that in my opinion the fan is failing, it should have more air flow from the exhaust than it does. I could give the fan another shot of air but if it over speeds the fan it may fail, what do you want me to do?

He asks: "In your opinion how long do you think the fan will last?"

Me: "Unknown, it could last a week, a month, or another hour, it needs to be replaced."

He says: "Ok, would you do it?"

Me: "No, you need to get Toshiba to replace it. One because they have the correct part. Two they know how to open the case with out destroying it."

He says: "Ok, thanks for looking at it!"

If you touch your computer and it is hot you need to do some cleaning, maybe increase the air flow through the computer (desktops) with more fans.

Short story:

When I worked on servers I had to take care of some Dell servers for a couple of weeks while the normal Admin was on vacation. One day I got a call that one of the servers was down. I went to the server bank where the Dells were and sure enough one was powered off.

I didn't see or smell anything out of the ordinary so I powered it up, it came up then shut down just that fast.

I pulled the computer out of the rack on it's slide rails and then I went to open the top cover it was searing, VERY hot.

I call another Admin (he had a bunch of Dells) and told him what had happened.

He said open the top case and look at the cover, is there a burn mark above the area where the Processor Fan is?


The Fan died and took out the processors also.

Now the inside of this computer had a 1/4 inch of dust, that is what killed the fan and the fan killed the processor.

See page 277 of the Self Computer Repair Unleashed 2nd Edition Manual for tips on cooling.

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You keyboard isn't thirsty, and it doesn't need calcium. Milk and other liquids will ruin a keyaboard!

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If it is hot to touch clean it! And add more fans to circulate the air in the case.

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