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Cleaning out computer with air compressor

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May 30, 2009 10:09:03 PM

I apologize if I didn't post this in the right category.

I have a homebuilt system that has gotten pretty dusty inside and I think it is due for a cleaning. I've always cleaned the dust out by taking an air compressor to all the components. I recently heard from someone that this could damage a computer but that seems kind of hard for me to believe. What do you think?
May 30, 2009 10:14:55 PM

its safe, just be careful around motherboard components trying not to blow a part off. Also, careful if liquid drops and and where it goes.
May 30, 2009 10:28:08 PM

There isn't liquid in an air compressor, your thinking of a can of compressed air "the last resort"

Yes its safe I do it all the time, make you set the PSI very low tho, and blow from fairly far away. I'd say 50 PSI.
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May 30, 2009 11:33:18 PM

any one who has used an air compressor KNOWS there can be a great deal of water in the system . All the humidity of the air passing through tends to collect .

its not safe to just use an air line from a compressor unless it has a water trap
May 30, 2009 11:54:02 PM

I don't think I have a water trap, but I'm not sure sure what it would look like if I did. I'm going to go ahead and go through with it and set the PSI as you've recommended. Hopefully there won't be any water buildup and everything will work out fine. Thanks you all for your help.
May 31, 2009 12:02:16 AM

DigitalD said:
I don't think I have a water trap, but I'm not sure sure what it would look like if I did. I'm going to go ahead and go through with it and set the PSI as you've recommended. Hopefully there won't be any water buildup and everything will work out fine. Thanks you all for your help.


Well don't do it and listen to Outlander_04

I've never once had "water" or any substance come out of my air compressor and I've been using it for 5 years, I use it all the time when I'm nailing, and I use it once a month on my computer. Its possible that I have a water trap, it was my father's before he passed away and I started using it.
May 31, 2009 12:04:46 AM

Water/Moisture is problem with compressed air.
Water vapor (humidity-moisture) enters the air system through the air compressor inlet air filter.
The air compressor sucks in approximately 7 cubic feet of atmospheric air at 0 psig, and that volume of air is compressed into 1 cubic feet of air at 100 psig. The water vapor (humidity-moisture) that was in the 7 cubic feet of atmospheric air is now compressed into 1 cubic feet of compressed air.

There are 3 forms of water in compressed air:
Liquid water
Aerosol (mist)
Vapor (gas)
Any of these forms of moisture can create problems down the road in equipment or may create serious problems in your process or end product today.

Moisture Traps, dehumidifying filters and driers are used to remove moisture.

Do not spin any fan on your system with the air stream.
The fan blades will cause the motor to spin many times faster than they were designed. Bearing damage can be instant.
I use a plastic tube like found on a can of WD-40 to keep the fans from spinning.
June 1, 2009 10:55:08 PM

Use a couple pieces of paper about 1-2 feet in front on the nozzle to direct airflow, this way and water that is sprayed is caught by the paper the airflow intensity can be controlled better.
June 14, 2012 6:21:07 PM

knotknut said:
Water/Moisture is problem with compressed air.
Water vapor (humidity-moisture) enters the air system through the air compressor inlet air filter.
The air compressor sucks in approximately 7 cubic feet of atmospheric air at 0 psig, and that volume of air is compressed into 1 cubic feet of air at 100 psig. The water vapor (humidity-moisture) that was in the 7 cubic feet of atmospheric air is now compressed into 1 cubic feet of compressed air.

There are 3 forms of water in compressed air:
Liquid water
Aerosol (mist)
Vapor (gas)
Any of these forms of moisture can create problems down the road in equipment or may create serious problems in your process or end product today.

Moisture Traps, dehumidifying filters and driers are used to remove moisture.

Do not spin any fan on your system with the air stream.
The fan blades will cause the motor to spin many times faster than they were designed. Bearing damage can be instant.
I use a plastic tube like found on a can of WD-40 to keep the fans from spinning.

June 14, 2012 6:23:37 PM

Knotknut is RIGHT.
Read further if you are going to use a powered compressor to clean electronic components!

A decent compressor should have a moisture drain/release screw underneath the air chamber. The manual should instruct you of this.
If you didn't buy the unit new and can't find a downloadable manual, follow these steps:

Note- Be Safe! ;) 
UNPLUG the unit if it is electrically powered, or pull the plug wire if it's a gas powered unit.

1. Set the pressure gauge to zero.

2. Use the main release valve to remove/purge the majority of air from the chamber (this is usually a valve with a loophole/pin that you pull until most of the air is released and slowly fades to a very low hiss as the air escapes).
Use caution not to look directly at it as air will escape fast-use eye protection. :sol: 

3. Locate a small screw (a secondary moisture/water trap purge valve) underneath (the bottom) of the air chamber and simply unscrew it COMPLETELY. You will most likely feel moisture/water mixed with the remaining air. This (usually condensed) water is exactly what knotknut is speaking of.

4. Leave the screw completely loose (unscrewed) and walk away for a few minutes.
NOTE: After doing this, I w/usually re-tighten the screw and leave it tight for a few more minutes before completely loosening it again - which almost always releases a tiny bit MORE moisture/pressure.

***I have a Sears pancake style compressor (2 HP 6gal. 150psi).
If I haven't used it for awhile I w/occasionally run it to full capacity then use the air nozzle until most of the air is depleted before using the secondary (water trap) valve (this helps to keep some moisture out of the hose as well, but you can never get it completely purged of moisture).

***I always use a vac cleaner to get as much dirt/dust as I can before using my compressor - always keep the pressure low and the nozzle at a distance.

Hope this helps.
October 10, 2012 8:57:39 PM

DigitalD said:
I apologize if I didn't post this in the right category.

I have a homebuilt system that has gotten pretty dusty inside and I think it is due for a cleaning. I've always cleaned the dust out by taking an air compressor to all the components. I recently heard from someone that this could damage a computer but that seems kind of hard for me to believe. What do you think?



I Recommend you stay away from the motherboard , Cz i once blown my PC with an air compressor , my VGA Fan got broken and my Sound Card got broken 2 , And i heard that some of the air compressors blow a humidified Air , that means air+water so be carefull , i payed for my mistake :( 
!