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The ugly face of hardware failure...


cooper
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So yesterday I come home and notice a rattle coming from my main machine. Sounds like the fan on the graphics card is losing its battle against the dust. I give the box a kick in the hopes of dislodging whatever's stuck, but the rattle ensues. I make a mental note to vacuum the box the next day and go to bed.

This morning the machine is still rattling, so I upen up the case and blow hard against the CPU and GPU fans. Dust everywhere, but it helps, and pretty soon the rattling stops. I put the machine back in its upright position, and hear something falling down the case. Look at the bottom and there's nothing there. I shake the machine a bit, but the sound of something moving that shouldn't doesn't repeat.

Fast-forward a few hours and as I walk through the hallway to the computer room I'm greeted by the familiar smell of burnt plastic. A quick check of the various systems shows everything's still operational, and no magic smoke or obvious signs of trouble, so I go in for a closer inspection. As I lean over my main box to smell the exhaust holes I put my hand on the box which is unusually hot. I hold my hand in front of the PSU exhaust grill and feel no air moving.

Open up the box so I can see the fan, and sure enough it's motionless. I tried blowing against the fan, but it wouldn't start moving again. I shut down the box, and let it cool for a bit, after which I turn it back on and the fan starts moving again, but this time the whole machine is vibrating. Not quite sure why it would be doing this, so I put the box back in its upright position and again I hear something falling down, ending in a loud CRACK sound. I instantlypull the power plug on the box and take out the PSU to see just what the problem was.

It looked like this:

psu1rw9.jpg

Notice something... missing?

Opened up the PSU to reveal the carnage in even more detail:

psu2ep5.jpg

Being the geek that I am I had a couple of spare PSUs lying around so the system is once again up and running (and in fact being used to type this message). Aside from a dying aging harddisk this is my first hardware failure ever, but not quite the type of failure I was expecting...

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Just so you know, this was a HuntKey PSU. Not exactly top of the line, but not the cheapest of the cheap either.

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Imagine what would have happened if you weren't there to shut it off :wink:

The plastic was probably brittle from the heat of the PSU over time. I imagine the vibrating was probably caused by one of the blades lodged in there somehow.

I once had a PSU go on me. One of the inner parts of the board burned out. Smelled like burning flesh, and the pc shut off. Fried the whole damn thing. Big black burn streak across the cirbuit board.

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The plastic was probably brittle from the heat of the PSU over time. I imagine the vibrating was probably caused by one of the blades lodged in there somehow.

I once had a PSU go on me. One of the inner parts of the board burned out. Smelled like burning flesh, and the PC shut off. Fried the whole damn thing. Big black burn streak across the cirbuit board.

Oooh, that hurts, must have been a sad sad day....

From the sounds of it, I bet a blade began to fall off, but got caught and seized the fan up, allowing the plastic to heat up even more and become weak/brittle, then when he shut it all the way off and turned it back on the fan was able to spin a little bit and snapped the blades off when power was applied. And the vibration was probably the unbalanced fan.

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I think when I put it back into the upright position and heared something falling, it was the first blade that had snapped off. It lodged itself somewhere where it would block the fan from spinning. When I noticed it was hot I shut it off, put the box on its side dislodging the already broken off blade. The next time it was turned on the missing blade caused the fan to vibrate so hard it made the whole case shake. Putting it back into its upright position, the fan blade fell into the rotating fan again, this time snapping off the second blade. I still can't figure out what broke off the first fin though. The other fins are still pretty solid.

Indeed, the most frightening thing about this is the question what would've happened if I wasn't around to notice the overheating PSU. I can quite easily imagine a fire breaking out because of it.

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Reminds me of the time I went to fix some ones computer and it died because a capacitor fell out of the PCB in the PSU. This also killed the motherboard and saverly reduced the life span of the hard drive, it died pretty much straight after I rescued al the data off it.

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I would hope that before fire becomes an issue the solder points for the power would disconnect.

All these stories of fans and nasty ending's reminds me of a computer I opened back when I worked for my friendly neighborhood PC repair shop...It was an old P-III Dell, back when they still used beige cases...well...the inside was more of a brown...I had never seen anything like this before, but I bet the inside of his lungs were even worse...he was a pretty heavy smoker. Absolutely discusting. :zombie:

Edit: His/He = The owner, not the computer.  heh, a computer with a nicotine addiction.

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Wow, for a first time hardware failure, they sure gave you a crazy one.  Reminds me of a time i was putting pieces of paper into an old fan with a wire grill and it would fling across the room.  Eventually I stuck a large piece, and it couldn't fit out of the grill, and a large amount of rattling ensued.  I quickly pulled the plug from the fan and had my whole class looking at me.Getting a little off topic of hardware failures.

Anyway one time I was working at a tech drive (recycling old technology).  Some computers got donated to us (looked pretty old).  So we ripped them open to see what hardware they had inside, and low and behold many of them had spider webs and bugs inside.    When I finally got one working it had a file named passwords (you can guess what was inside), and another file named clients (had all the people that had bought a car from a car dealership, names, phone #'s, addresses). The things people donate...

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haha that is kinda kool i like it  :D i dont think ive ever had a PSU die on me in anway that wasnt caused by power surge or old age, and defently never had a Fan fall apart on me lol.

Thx Cooper for a laugh.

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something like this happened to me recently. the psu on my gaming machine recently died. It was really scary becuase there was alot of smoke coming out of it. For some reason I was sure that it had blown everything in the machine. But it didn't thankfully. But yea when a psu goes it's really one of the more scary failures out there.

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Those of us with important machines, take this as a warning, stop being lazy, go down and inspect your machines if you haven't done so in a while. It's good to lubricate fans, undust, and make sure all fans and components are operating correctly every month.

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