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Laptop Repair

How Cigarette Smoke Damages a Computer

For all the smokers out their that think smoking in front of the computer is okay, this webpage is for you.  I personally do not smoke, however have seen many times over how this habit brings a computer to an early grave.  Below, I will be focusing in on the heat sink of the computer.  A heatsink and the fan that sits on top of it has one primary duty.  That is to keep the central processing unit cool (CPU.)  If the CPU overheats or runs hot it can burn out or destroy a motherboard.  In the case below, it assisted the motherboard to an early death along with itself.  The images below are fairly large for dial-up users, so please be patient.

The picture above is a aerial view of a 3 year old computer system.  What you are supposed to see is a heat sink below the fan that is similar to the aluminum grill to the right.  What most people don't realize with cigarette smoke is that it is very moist in nature.  Along with this it collects any air born particles as well with the chemicals inside the cigarette.  Mixed with the hot air and heat from electronics, it will become like glue to what it sticks to as you can see in the image above.

Above is a picture of the heatsink without the fan.  Disgusted yet?  You should be!  As you can see, the smoke has created a thick (sticky) blanket of soot over the grills.  This causes a choking effect on the CPU's ability to ventilate.  As the heat rises to the top of the heatsink, the fan will not be able to properly disperse of the heat.  Thus, causing the heatsink to return the heat to the CPU.  This cooling method is like that of a car without the water coolant.  Try running your car without the fan behind the radiator.  It will not be long before it over heats and causes a lot of damage.

In the image below on the side shot of the heat sink you will see that the build up is about 1/4" think in some areas.  Though this doesn't sound like a lot, it is to a computer.

So, what do you do if you smoke?

Don't smoke around or near the system.  Keep the system in an area that is a smoke free environment if at all possible.  Below are some other contributing factors to particle buildup in a computer.

     •  Pet hair

     •  Industrial (factory) airborne particles

     •  Living in the city beside busy roads

     •  Living in the country with dusty fields

     •  High humidity in combination with any of the above.

     •  Baby Powders (or the like)

What should be done if any of these cannot be avoided?

If you are in an environment that none of this can be avoided, or the damage has already occurred, then it is best to have your computer cleaned on the inside.  I have seen this done as often as once a month to every 6 months.  Every circumstance varies, so it will depend on your situation as to how often a system should be cleaned out.  If you are not comfortable with cleaning the components of your system, call a local technician like us (RCCS) to do the job for you.  They shouldn't charge any more than a service charge (hourly rate) or maybe a flat fee.