Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Rise from the ashes

Tags:
Last response: in CPUs
Share
September 13, 2011 2:24:49 PM

Hello everyone, I don't know if this belongs in this part of the forum or not,but here it goes anyway. There was a fire in my apartment and my pc recieved a lot of smoke damage. I cleaned as best I could but the smell wont go away and it turns on,but cant take it out of the apartment until the insurance is finished with the claim. I have a couple of questions.

1) Should I change any parts just in case?
2) Does anyone know of a way of removing the smoke smell?
3) Should I just buy a new pc?

Thanks :hello: 

More about : rise ashes

a b à CPUs
September 13, 2011 2:41:53 PM

I'm sorry, that must be horrible. I don't see why you'd need to remove components if it works, just make sure you get the smoke particles out so they're not hindering your cooling performance. No idea what to do about the smell :<
a b à CPUs
September 13, 2011 4:16:12 PM

I had a family member that went through that, and I know it's a bad deal. I'm sorry to hear you went through that.


I've had the misfortune of working on several computers that have gone through house fires, and here's a little of what i've observed in the clean-up.


1) Blowing all the dust / soot you can out of them helps with the smell to an extent. Dust absorbs the smell. You might not be able to blow all the soot out probably, because it's very sticky and clings to EVERYTHING. Items like fans / heatsinks tend to accumulate the soot/smoke mess. Fans can be replaced easily, and since they're cheap, I usually replace them. CPU heatsinks can be cleaned with a tupperware container and some rubbing alcohol.



2) The smell will go away with time. It takes less time if you take more time on item # 1 I mentioned. The cleaner, the quicker the smell goes away.



3) Optical drives tend to never be right or work at all after a house fire. The smoke clings to the optics in the drives and can't be cleaned. It gets completely inside everything in the drive. If yours works, consider your self lucky. Otherwise, buy a new optical drive(s).


4) The smoke film clings to card-edge contacts to (PCI, AGP, PCI-e). A little rubbing alcohol on a q-tip will clean the card edge contacts. Sometimes reseating cards several times (dozen or so) will rub the film off the spring contacts in the socket if cards aren't working or work intermittently.
Related resources
September 13, 2011 6:54:34 PM

I'm sorry for you dear,

Do as mavroxur suggested before even trying it out. It is better to maintain and clean it perfectly before you try it. Cause if you don't take care of your computer it may not work a decade, but only weeks/months before it's scrap.
a c 141 à CPUs
September 13, 2011 9:23:37 PM

What insurance will do for you depends on the the policy. Since you said 'your apartment' then I assume you have renters insurance. If you dont then assume that you will get nothing from insurance because you won't. The owners fire insurance doesn't cover tenants personal property.

If you do have renters insurance then you likely have actual cash value or replacement cost coverage.
Actual cash value - they will calculate the cost of it wehn new and apply depreciation to it and give you the depreciated amount.
Replacement cost - same as above but if you actually replace the pc, you submit to them the receipt and then they give you the recoverable amount back (basically the difference between the depreciated amount and the new cost)

AS for cleaning, definitely clean everything you can. The smoke from a fire is actually acidic. Usually the fire restoration crew that cleaned your apartment would have left you a checmical dry sponge, go ahead and use it to clean the exterior and interior of your case. Clean all fans the best you can without soaking them of course. Seperate the CPU heatsink and fan and clean the heatsink good. repeat for the GPU fan/heatsink. I wouldn't replace them until you hear back from insurance.

AS for cleaning the motherboard cards, there are several good spray can cleaners that will not harm electronics. Unfortunately I have not been in this business in a while so I can't recommend one currently.
a b à CPUs
September 13, 2011 9:34:47 PM

popatim said:

AS for cleaning the motherboard cards, there are several good spray can cleaners that will not harm electronics. Unfortunately I have not been in this business in a while so I can't recommend one currently.





ZEP does make a good PCB washdown spray, but it's not cheap and requires an extended dry time due to the fact the spray will get trapped under SMD's and in sockets. As long as you clean the card edge connectors on the memory and add-in cards, it seems to be enough. I've probably cleaned 15-20 fire systems, and none have come back with problems after i've worked on them.
a c 141 à CPUs
September 13, 2011 10:23:01 PM

Good info.
The varnish on my kitchen cabinets was eaten away but the conformal coating on the PCB's doesnt get damaged? Thats great news. My fire was 4 months ago. LoL
a b à CPUs
September 13, 2011 11:06:32 PM

If you can't claim for a new PC on the insurance then I have found that simply rubbing down the outside of the computer case with a damp cloth dramatically reduces the smell of smoke from the computer. I don't think that there will be a need to clean the insides of the computer providing the computer was not on when the fire occurred. I am basing this on experience I have had from cleaning smokers computers.
a b à CPUs
September 14, 2011 1:45:54 PM

pjmelect said:
If you can't claim for a new PC on the insurance then I have found that simply rubbing down the outside of the computer case with a damp cloth dramatically reduces the smell of smoke from the computer. I don't think that there will be a need to clean the insides of the computer providing the computer was not on when the fire occurred. I am basing this on experience I have had from cleaning smokers computers.




You'd be surprised how much smoke can penetrate into small places. Even if the computer wasn't on, optical drives' optics and card edge contacts can still get coated in smoke film and cause problems. I agree that the fans will probably be fine without cleaning, but dust (if any) accumulated on them or the CPU/GPU heatsinks will still need to be removed, as it absorbs the smell.

a c 112 à CPUs
September 14, 2011 3:00:44 PM

i chose a more drastic approach a good 10 years ago.. i stripped the pc turned on the shower and got the fairy liquid out. with little or no chance of a static discharge because the bath is metal i merrily went about blitzing the whole of the innards ...
the motherboard, cpu, sound card and tv card all got it...
so if your totally confident in your ability to rebuild the pc rite down to replacing every heatsync. do what the other guys here tell you as todays pc's arnt as robust as yesterdays...
!