How-To Geek

So Your Laptop’s Fan Has Stopped Working Then? [Humorous Image]

There is such a thing as dust build-up and then there are the odd cases of dust-ball evolution…

What is the worst case of dust build-up that you have dealt with? Make sure to share your stories with your fellow readers in the comments!

Help, my laptop’s fan is not working! [via Reddit Tech Support Gore]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 12/13/12

Comments (17)

  1. Marcos

    It’s not about cooling dust, but…
    Some years ago (where optical mouses where too expensive) i visited a friend, and, as usual, he ask me to check his computer. The first problem i noticed where the dust in the axle where the mouse ball move against. Just a second after i cleaned the axle, my friend looked over my shoulder and started to complain me about all the problems he has to create, again, the perfect cover of dust to make the mouse work well…

  2. Zach

    Very recently my dad was tasked with diagnosing a failing PC for a friend.
    When we opened up the case, it was so full of dust that we took it outside and used a leaf blower. Canned air just wouldn’t have cut it.

  3. Grant

    Zach, I refurbish old machines and give them away. I had one that when I opened it up, you could not see the circuit traces or even the individual fins on the heat sync. After blowing it out with a hose hooked to a compressor (outdoors of course) I tried it out. Unfortunately, due to running this way, it had overheated and damaged some components. Oh, well scavenge the parts you can.

    I definitely understand blowing out the dust outdoors.

  4. Adam

    Yeah this image would be funny if it wasn’t so common I fix laptops for a living. Since most oem’s including apple don’t use quality air filters this happens alot, requiring guys like me to reflow or reball the motherboard because of overheating.

  5. Chemical

    I have dedicated a pan air compressor for blowing out client’s PC’s. The worst I’ve seen after taking off the side panel was a mouse nest complete with fluff, fur, and hair. The case had holes for a water pump but the build was air cooled; it made for a neat entrance/exit! I’d post a link to the picture if the spam filter didn’t eat it.

  6. RA

    Today I turned on a machine and received the message:

  7. RA

    Oh yeah, ans it said PRESS F1 to continue.

  8. jmason

    You can call that “hay-stuck.” =)

  9. Peter

    Worst one by far I had to deal with was one owned by a heavy smoker. Not only were there pelts of dust inside but the dust was covered in a heavy brown sticky ‘tar’. I refused to touch it, I can still smell it in my mind and that was 5 years ago.

  10. George

    I have a friend who complained her lap top would shut down with in minutes of start up. She had 5 chihuahuas, and at least a dozen cats, so I guessed the problem was over heating. I offered to check it, and made the mistake of trying to blow it out in my house. After disassembly and using two cans of air (outside), the computer ran fine. She promptly sold the laptop, with out even offering me a beer for fixing it.
    The following year another friend had the same complaint about her desk top that sat on the floor. I built it, so she, so it must be my fault it wasn’t working.
    She had many large dogs, and a number of cats that ran in and out of the house. I opened the case and showed her the problem. She promptly took the case outside, and turned on a commercial air compressor, and blew out the dust and hair with a high pressure nozzle before I could stop her.
    I was surprised to find the computer still worked after being subjected to several hundred pounds of air pressure.

  11. WhytteDragun

    I work in the IT department at the local college. We have an air compressor we use for de-dusting PC cases, and a good thing too, because we’d be going through a lot of canned air! The worst case I’ve seen yet came from the auto body shop. They called us because their computer just suddenly shut down when they were in the middle of using it. As soon as I opened the case I could see why. The bottom of the case had at least 3 inches of dust built up and the motherboard wasn’t visible at all. I made a quick stop by the nursing department for a face mask before I blew that dust out.

  12. Andrew

    Looks like hair balls from a cate :)

  13. Andrew

    I meant cat

  14. Michael

    This isn’t a dust build story; it’s much worse. Before starting my own business, I worked in a small computer repair shop in a small city in Georgia. When I first started there, I noticed there was a large trash bag sitting on the completed work shelf. I asked about it and was told the computer was infested with cockroaches. Once they were discovered the computer was put in the bag and the customer was asked to pick it up as is. In the two years I worked there, this happened two other times, with two different customers.

  15. Kevalin

    My Gateway P-7805u FX, which I’d bought as a factory refurbish, had been running stupid-hot, even when idling. After a month and more of building up my nerve, I finally went on one of the websites and found step-by-step instructions on how to dismantle it so that I could thermal paste the CPU and GPU, thinking that was at least part of the problem (you literally have to take the laptop completely apart to access the GPU).

    I was right, both of processors were completely devoid of thermal paste due to use–but what really shocked me was that, when I pulled the CPU’s cooling fan from the casing, I found a wad of dust in the shape of the intake fan blocking it. It was so thick that I initially thought it was some sort of felt pad that was SUPPOSED to be part of the computer!

  16. Lain

    Hmm I agree this isn’t that weird. I’m at work right now (local PC shop) and I have at least 3 PCs I can say that are competition with this. I mean it’s really hard to get that bad in the first place because usually problems with the PC start occurring a lot earlier anyway.

  17. Graham Armitage

    While I was working for a rather well known computer shop in the UK a customer wanted to know why his 4 year old desktop pc was not staying on for more then 10 minutes a day, when I opened it up, I found massive balls of dust clogging the heatsink on the GPU and GPU as well as a dead mouse that had got in via a hole that the customer left in the machine when he took out the only cooling fan it had and we had to get someone in to remove the said mouse and decontaminate the computer which we charged to the customer for leaving the computer in such a mess and not taking care of it.

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