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Ok to vacuum in case with plastic hose/attachments?

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June 22, 2009 9:25:25 PM

Ok, I want to avoid using canned air, because it does leave some chemical residue on the board/everything else it touches, and furthermore it has a better chance of pushing dirt further into components vs. any actual cleaning. So I decided the best method of cleaning inside the case is (after the PSU is off first of course) a fine bristle paint brush to losen up dust/dirt, and then put an anti-static wristband on, connect it to the case and vacuum the lose dust/dirt out. My vacuum has a plastic hose and attachments.

How does this sound for keeping everything safe?

June 22, 2009 9:59:37 PM

The wristband may not stop the static, I wouldnt do it. The residue from compressed air is safe, and neglible
Just because youre grounded doesnt mean alot if theres alot of static buildup.
a b ) Power supply
June 22, 2009 11:39:12 PM

Don't touch anything with a bristle brush. I use canned air for normal cleaning. It's much safer and the chemical evaporates quickly.
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June 23, 2009 12:01:34 AM

Realize that tho you may be grounded, and your natural electric field, and any static youre making/carrying is a smallish amount, usually, and the banding strap is fine. But the vacuum can and does emit alot more, and more powerful static that wont necessarily ground out, or be unified with your ground
June 23, 2009 1:08:38 AM

^+1

A vacuum cleaner generates huge amounts of static. Trying to use one on your PC is a death wish.
June 23, 2009 2:36:02 AM

I had a storage drive that wouldn't show up in BIOS the last time I used canned air to clean the inside of my case. Didn't tilt the can and used short bursts of air. It still had to have been the culprit. Had to get a new drive because apparently fixing an electronically dead drive is nearly impossible, especially after over a year's worth of use and sectors getting remapped.

Anyways, how can a vacuum short out the internals if there's no metal making contact with it? Say I don't even touch my PC when I'm using the vacuum. Even if the plastic attachment touches the system, how does static get from that to the board? Does it work differently with electronics because I've never had the attachment give off a static shock even when it touches metal.
a b ) Power supply
June 23, 2009 2:44:48 AM

If you want to use a vacuum cleaner it would be more appropriate to use a metal nozzle.
With the wrist strap on (and tied to ground/case) and your hand on the metal nozzle - Your good to go. Just use caution and not scrape the nozzle across components.

The high volume of air flow over the plastic (as stated by others) could create a considerable static charge. You would have to look at a chart that shows placement of dissimilar materials and see where air and plastic are in relation to each other.

Added: BadAxe2 Just saw your last post. Do a goole on ESD and you will answer your question. A build up of a static charge can exert an "E" field and does not have to come in direct contact, or produce a visible arc, to cause damage. The damage may not be
instant" death but could resualt in premature failure. (Gee Wish I could spell).
a b ) Power supply
June 23, 2009 2:45:30 AM

u can always use Q-tips...that's what I use
June 23, 2009 2:49:02 AM

I have used canned air, or I take to work and use the air compressor if it is really dirty. But, the compressor we have at work is an expensive oil free system with dryer. I use a very low volume nozzle, and take a lot of care. Never ever had a problem.
But I would not suggest to anyone to use a vacuum, seems like a pretty bad idea to me.
I have also used cotton swabs to wipe dust away from fans, fins, etc. Takes a little time, and is not quite as effective, but gets most of it off in the critical areas.
June 23, 2009 3:36:26 AM

Thanks for the replies everyone. I'll keep my vacuum away from my case and be careful with canned air. I think I'm going to clean my HDD's off with a fine-bristle brush though from now on.
June 23, 2009 6:17:27 AM

if u keep the plastic away from any components, u should be fine, i have always used a vacuum on my comps never a prob, also with canned air its just moving dust to other parts not removing it. ive been told that air moving past electronic components creates its own static as well but not sure bout that.
June 23, 2009 12:05:41 PM

I've used vaccumes hundreds of times, but it depends a lot on the hose attachment. Make sure to be properly grounded, and avoid direct contact whenever possible, just to be on the safe side.

Compressed Air usually gets everything loose anyway; the vaccume is mainly for those hard to reach (internal vents/fans in odd places) spots.
a b ) Power supply
June 23, 2009 6:21:48 PM

Uhmm...using compressed CO2 will not damage anything...its extremely cold so make sure you computer is cooled completely down to room temperature before applying. Spray the compressed CO2 in all the spots in your case and components and then once everything is loose, just suck it out with a vacuum cleaner or just let an air filter/cleaner slowly get everything. However before you touch anything in your computer, discharge your body by touching anything metal.
June 23, 2009 6:39:46 PM

Anyone who uses a vacuum inside a PC should be shot, it creates more static than any other household item, but if you really want to use one use a metal nozzle that is grounded.

Also if you do use a brush, use one with natural bristles as they will not generate the static that synthetic bristles will.
June 23, 2009 7:35:30 PM

As DeVastatoR_L said, a vacuum cleaner is a very bad choice for cleaning the circuit boards and wiring in your PC (or even cooling fans & heatsinks for that matter). You can use two other things that are very effective - compressed air (which you can buy in a can) or an air compressor with a nozzle (I wouldn't use more than 40PSI of pressure) work well. Make sure than when blowing dust and lint out of any case or CPU fans that you hold the fan still - the compressed air can often cause issues with the bearings used in these fans because it will cause them to spin too fast. The other item you could use would be a camel hair brush, which is good for cleaning clingy-type dust that the compressed air might not remove.

Hope this helps!
June 23, 2009 9:32:50 PM

Please, Vaccume Clearner Hoses are quite fine provided:
1: You are grounded
2: PSU set to off
3: Vaccume grounded (most are)

Been doing it monthly for 20 years (mostly on my heavily upgraded IBM OS/2 :D ), nothings broken yet. I know the guys I work with also use vaccume hoses, and haven't killed anything yet.

Again, compressed air does the job 99% of the time anyway.
a b ) Power supply
June 23, 2009 10:08:24 PM

^+1 Agree
June 23, 2009 10:29:47 PM

Don't get obsessive about this sort of thing , unless you are really careless you are unlikely to do any harm with a hoover. Making sure the wall plug is in (but PSU off) and touching the case every so often is fine. Often you can use compressed air to dislodge dust (which does as you say spread it about) but then hoover it up; you dont even have to touch the PCB just hold the nozel near enough and dislodged dust will be sucked up.

I would have thought resorting to stuff like brushes, prodding and poking is far more likely to do damage. Make sure all solvents, residue from copressed air etc have evapourated before turning on again.
June 23, 2009 10:31:16 PM

gamerk316 said:
Please, Vaccume Clearner Hoses are quite fine provided:
1: You are grounded
2: PSU set to off
3: Vaccume grounded (most are)

Been doing it monthly for 20 years (mostly on my heavily upgraded IBM OS/2 :D ), nothings broken yet. I know the guys I work with also use vaccume hoses, and haven't killed anything yet.

Again, compressed air does the job 99% of the time anyway.


Same here. I don't even bother to put a wrist strap on. I've never had any problems because of that. My PC is turned off when I hoover, obviously. I've never had a can of compressed air in my hand. What's the point of wasting money when hoovering does the job???
June 23, 2009 10:31:44 PM

blackhawk1928 said:
^+1 Agree


Me too, although I do have an in-house vacuum with an electronics cleaning accessory kit, plus I shut the door and crack the window to let the humid outside air in for half an hour before starting. Humidity reduces static buildup greatly.

I find the worst culprit in collecting dust bunnies inside the case is having carpeting in the room. So I used some cheesecloth over the case fan grills to filter out floating fibers, etc. However any porous cloth will work - old sox, even used undershirts or shorts - just make sure you wash them first :D .
June 23, 2009 10:56:04 PM

I'm really, really surprised none of you have fried your boxes using a vacuum.

Do it at your own risk man.

There are companies such as this one http://www.gndzero.com/shielding-esd-vacuum-cleaner.php that make special vacuums and supplies for data centers and tech. rooms, for the simple reason that vacuums can and will fry PCB's and chips. I did it to myself before I was educated about ESD.

Here is a good Wiki on ESD. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrostatic_discharge

Take precautions. Buy a wrist strap for $5, ground yourself to something else besides the PC you'll be working with. Being grounded doesn't mean you 'touch something metal first', it means you are physically connected to the ground wire in the building.

Unplug the PC first as well. Even once the computer has 'shut down' , there is almost always 5V standby power running through the box. Plugging/unplugging internal components with the machine plugged into power can fry them, as well as the motherboard and PSU.

I've been inside hundreds of machines, whether for cleaning, troubleshooting, upgrading, or making physical repairs. Before I practiced safety with ESD I managed to fry two of my own machines. Since I've been educated, I've had no issues.

Be smart, not sorry!
June 24, 2009 12:10:22 AM

Devastator_uk said:
Anyone who uses a vacuum inside a PC should be shot, it creates more static than any other household item, but if you really want to use one use a metal nozzle that is grounded.

Also if you do use a brush, use one with natural bristles as they will not generate the static that synthetic bristles will.


you can pretty safely used the canned air to blow the junk to the bottom of the case and use the vacuum to suck out the clumps, you just keep the nozzle touching the metal bottom and keep it plugged in so as to keep it grounded. Also using the vacuum on the outside back fans and such has never caused me any probs.
a b ) Power supply
June 24, 2009 12:17:01 AM

^ Leave the Computer PSU plugged in, BUT turn the rocker switch off. The 3rd wire ground from the ac outlet goes directly to case ground so that you can attach grounding strap to case.

PS Vacuum (sucking air) is permitted on satellite instruments, But do not think using compressed air is. will check.
Anonymous
June 25, 2009 3:16:34 PM

Have used Vacuum and Paint Brush Method for years now on literally hundreds of PC'S and never once caused static discharge, Mind then Ive never once had a static discharge hurt any piece of equipment ever, and I very rarely use a wrist strap, just grond the box and yourself and you should have no problems.

Canned air is just too expensive for what it is, bloody air in a can for £5.00, you have got to be kidding!!!
a b ) Power supply
June 25, 2009 6:46:15 PM

^ I'm always reminded of the "OLD" days when helmets were not required for motorcycles. Never met one of the die hards who didn't say I've been riding my motorcycle for XX years. Might get to meet one when i go to that great beyoun.

Most ESD damage is not evident - it results in degraged performace and/or premature failure (month(s) or year(s) from when it ocurred).

ESD requirements for satellite instruments are somewhat over done ie if you are a meter away - you wear a strap. Having set thru countless movies and lectures on ESD- all I can say is it is real. Companys due not normally track the number of returned products are a result of ESD as it is very expensive. Cost NASA a bout 30 grand to dice and slice a chip and determine why it failed. Involved in two cases and both were determide to have failed due to ESD.

I know I'll catch flack, always do, BUT.
June 25, 2009 6:54:39 PM

RetiredChief said:
^ I'm always reminded of the "OLD" days when helmets were not required for motorcycles. Never met one of the die hards who did didn't say I've been riding my motorcycle for XX years. Might get to meet one when i go to that great beyoun.

Most ESD damage is not evident - it resualts in degraged performace and or premature failure (month(s)or year(s) from when it ocurred).

ESD requirements for satellite instruments are somewhat over done ie if you are a meter away - you wear a strap. Having set thru countless movies and lectures on ESD- all I can say is it is real. Companys due not normally track the number of returned products are a result of ESD as it is very expensive. Cost NASA a bout 30 grand to dice and slice a chip and determine why it failed. Involved in two cases and both were determide to have failed due to ESD.

I know I'll catch flack, always do, BUT.


Long time no see Chief. I agree with you about the strap and the cumulative effect of ESD, but i dont worry too much as I only open it once every blue moon or so and I know if I fry it...my own fault. If I was in my case a million times a month, I'd wear the wrist strap and all that.

BTW, I worked at a company that not only strapped us to the desks, they made us lotion up with this awful crap that smells and feels like paraffin so our esd strap was more effective.
a b ) Power supply
June 27, 2009 2:02:14 AM

Hey Royalcrown
Nice to see your still around.
Never had to wear the lotion, nor foot straps. I just have to wear a stupid Bunny suit and face mask. I know what you mean. If I open the case and am only plugging in something I just rest a arm on the case.

Take care
June 29, 2009 8:10:05 PM

Anyone who says that they've done it for a long time and nothing has happened is playing with fire.

Nothing will happen until it does happen and you've fried your 500 dollar video card.
!