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Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by [email protected], Jun 22, 2007.

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  1. Guest

    I was just wondering if dust is generally a conductor or insulator.

    Also, how can dust often cause electronics equipment to malfunction
    without usually breaking it completely?
  2. Generally an insulator, or very poor conductor.

    Dust most often causes problems by enveloping hot components
    in an insulating layer, that causes their temperature to
    rise. It is the temperature that damages the components,
    not current through the dust.

    In high voltage equipment, it may help form carbon tracks
    that leak current around insulation.
  3. Eeyore

    Eeyore Guest

    In addition, dust may attract moisture.

  4. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    ** It is generally an insulator.

    But what it " generally" is is a total irrelevance when compared to the
    monster it can sometimes be.

    ** By blanketing hot running parts and thereby preventing cool air flow
    from doing it job - causing overtemp automatic shutdowns and intermittent
    temporary malfunctions.

    Moist or wet dust is a partial conductor, a corrosive agent to metal
    surfaces and an initiator of high voltage insulation failure.

    Very bad news.

    Electronics needs to be kept clean.

    ........ Phil
  5. Ross Herbert

    Ross Herbert Guest

    The answers given by other respondents are all spot on...

    If you want to see the effects of dust laden electrical components
    first hand wait until the first shower of rain after a long dry spell
    and stand near a high voltage ac power line. You may hear a continuous
    sizzling, spluttering or crackling sound as the high voltage tracks
    across the insulators using the moist dust layer as a conductor. At
    night time you can sometimes see the blue arcs tracking across the
    insulators. That same dust was there in its dry state before the rain
    but because it is an insulator it causes no real problems. Add water
    and the problems begin - pole-top fires and arc-overs etc.

    Power distribution organisations will usually embark on a program of
    high pressure cleaning of pole insulators before the onset of winter
    to minimise the possibility of hazards from these situations.
  6. Ardent

    Ardent Guest

    And once it is wet it is a conductor, if not a good one.

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