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Getting sawdust out of a computer

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Ron Bean, Jun 28, 2004.

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  1. Ron Bean

    Ron Bean Guest

    I have a used computer that appears to have been used in a
    dusty environment-- it's full of a fine brown powder that
    I think is fine sawdust. Most of the parts can be replaced
    but some of them would be worth salvaging.

    A guy who repairs keyboards told me to soak it in alchohol and
    then let it dry thoroughly. Is this a good strategy for circuit
    boards in general?

    It has a ZIP drive and a CD burner that I was planning to sell
    (with full disclosure about where they came from), but now
    I wonder if I should just throw them out instead. It seems like
    the CD burner might be OK if the lens is not scratched, but the
    ZIP drive is more questionable. It came without a hard disk, so
    I'm not worried about that.

    Any other comments on this?
  2. Wild Bill

    Wild Bill Guest

    If you have clean compresed air, that would get most of the initial layer of
    dust off. Parts that are inside covers may have less dust on them.
    Ground the nozzle of the blow gun (fast moving air can generate static
    electricity), and use a low-to-moderate air pressure (around 25 psi ought to
    be good).

    The dust from some types of wood are acidic or corrosive. But maybe it's
    heroin, not sawdust.

    The more intricate/delicate parts shouldn't be forcefully blown out with
    compressed air. The floating CD pickups could be damaged by direct air

    Gears and other parts that have grease on them will probably require manual
    cleaning with small art brushes or swabs.

    Flooding circuit boards with ordinary rubbing alcohol or general purpose
    household/glass spray cleaners isn't usually harmful to the boards or
    components.. that doesn't include mechanical assemblies, just boards.
    I've used various products for cleaning nasty (furry looking) power supplies
    and other electronic gear for fire reclaimation work, and have seen no
    detrimental effects.
    Degreasers and other "hot" solvent cleaners should be avoided.

    The key factor to cleaning boards with liquids is the drying cycle. A drying
    chamber is ideal, but an improvised vented cabinet with a hair dryer/heat
    gun forcing warm (not excessively hot) air into it would also work.
    A can of duster gas with an extension tube will usually reveal the moisture,
    if there is any remaining liquid hidded in or under components.

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