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Advice from an Apple tech: Battle the dust bunnies

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 02:30 AM

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#2 User is offline   HowieIsaacks 

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  Posted 11 October 2013 - 04:28 AM

I have been giving this same advice for all of my I.T. career. I can never understand why people don't think to keep the inside of their computers clean. I have never owned a tower system, but I am obsessively meticulous about keeping my MacBook Pro, and my Mac mini clean. Both look like they just came out fo the product box. When I bought my MacBook Pro last year, I invested over $2000 in it, including the 16GB RAM upgrade, and the SSD that I installed. Considering the amount of money that I paid, why would I not want to keep it clean? Of course a lot of people don't own the computer that they use. They're company owned. Perhaps that is a factor in why a lot of people just don't do much to keep their computers clean.
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#3 User is offline   lkrupp 

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  Posted 11 October 2013 - 05:05 AM

So how do you clean the insides of an iMac? Thin vent slot at the top, tiny screen at the bottom. Do I take it apart? Or is it even necessary to clean an iMac?
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#4 User is offline   MarkJReed5jau 

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  Posted 11 October 2013 - 11:23 AM

So I should listen to the guy who forgot to clean his computer?
Who bought a power supply before even cracking the case open?

Really?
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#5 User is offline   Raymondo17 

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  Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:10 PM

>So how do you clean the insides of an iMac?<

I'd like to know as well! Just this past weekend I approached my sister's noisy iMac with a can of compressed air and found that, unlike my Mac Pro, Apple apparently doesn't want you on the inside of that machine. I dutifully spritzed some compressed air into any crevice I could find, but I doubt it did any good.
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#6 User is offline   MEPace 

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  Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:14 PM

"While compressed air isn’t naturally dangerous..."

Always read the label! Some compress "air" contents are flammable, others can displace oxygen and should only be used in a well ventilated space. Don't forget eye protection.

I like to run my vacuum nearby (not used in the computer) to suck up some of the displaced dust.
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#7 User is offline   toddzrx 

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  Posted 11 October 2013 - 12:19 PM

For anyone wondering how to disassemble their Mac, take the author's advice and go to iFixit.com to look up a guide on their site.

As for the iMac specifically, you need to remove the screen, which on the newest iMacs uses tape and needs to be cut with a credit card. The 09-11 iMac uses magnets, and suction cups are the best means of removing it. Again, go to iFixit for more specifics.

(No, I'm not from iFixit; they've just been very helpful over the years.)
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#8 User is offline   dfs 

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  Posted 11 October 2013 - 08:48 PM

Problem: when you discharge compressed air out of a can, water droplets form by condensation. I know have heard that there are special kinds of compressed air where this isn't supposed to happen, but I've also heard that these aren't always reliable. So I'm afraid of swapping one problem (dust) for another and worse one (shorting out components). Any advice?
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#9 User is offline   icerabbit 

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 03:15 AM

View Postdfs, on 11 October 2013 - 08:48 PM, said:

Problem: when you discharge compressed air out of a can, water droplets form by condensation. I know have heard that there are special kinds of compressed air where this isn't supposed to happen, but I've also heard that these aren't always reliable. So I'm afraid of swapping one problem (dust) for another and worse one (shorting out components). Any advice?


Don't shake the can and do hold the canister fairly vertical + bend the straw if need be.
If you rattle it like spray paint and aim down with the can - holding the canister close to horizontal or up side down- it can / will spew frosty stuff. Been there done that, way back.

---

As for the article - I guess the author doesn't clean his own systems?! Similar to the old story that the kids of the shoe repair guy always wore delapidated shoes.

Geez that machine was dirty. I've got systems well older than that, which have never been anywhere near that dirty after similar usage spans.

And you start buying parts before having a look at the hardware, doing some diagnostic?! Knowing dust is the enemy of electronics. Knowing you haven't cleaned your sytem in a good while?

Sorry ... thumbs down.

And while some of the details in the article are right, your cleaning regime could be a lot better. You clean that nasty a system just blowing it into the room? ...

How about taking it outside? Or at least the garage, a porch ... (I know it rains sometimes)

Some systems are worse then others picking up stuff, but the use environment and cleanliness of the owner makes a huge difference.

Servicing tower systems that have not been well cared for, tucked away in a hard to clean places, used in workshops, or (gasp) simply by people who seemingly do no housekeeping, never clean their house/apartment ever (oh yes, they exist .... move into a clean apartment/house and never clean for 6mo/yr I have seen it first hand with some renters) ...

I will break it down partially or just open it up and take it outside, it depends, put on a dust mask if it is bad, fire up a compact compressor, turn down the pressure and let it rip. Unlimited dust blowing compared to expensive disposable cans. Though one has to be careful with moisture in the system in you haven't drained the tank or line in a while.

Various paint brushes can be used to dislodge some stubborn bits, q tips and denatured alcohol, various surface cleaners for different surfaces (not the electronics)

Having a vacuum nozzle nearby can help to suck up the freed dust, or even large bits beforehand (as in the author's system). Rather than blowing it all into the workspace, bedroom, wherever the system is. (I'm allergic to dust so that motivates me to minimize exposure) However when vacuuming take care not to go too close as you can get static electricity which is deadlier for electronics than some dust.

This post has been edited by icerabbit: 12 October 2013 - 03:27 AM

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#10 User is offline   elq66 

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  Posted 12 October 2013 - 06:04 AM

As an aside, we need to stop calling dusters compressed air:

"Since gas dusters are one of the many inhalants that can be easily abused, many manufacturers have added a bittering agent to deter people from inhaling the product. Because of the generic name "canned air", some people mistakenly believe that the can only contains normal air or contains a less harmful substance such as nitrous oxide. However, the gases actually used are denser than air, and inhaling can lead to paralysis, serious injury or death. Recently in the United States and Canada, stores have begun to ask for ID to verify that the customer is 18 years or older.[citation needed]"

I think that even the labeling of said products don't use the phrase or call themselves "compressed air" - because they're not.
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#11 User is offline   leicaman 

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  Posted 12 October 2013 - 07:40 AM

I did this on my Mac Pro at home and it did make it more reliable. Took two cans if air to clean it out! Also had to replace the graphics card. Getting a new Mac Pro both at home and at work soon. Hope they are easy to clean!

The Mac Pro at work is a 2006 model, and it has taken to logging itself out spontaneously at lunch every day. A new Mac Pro can't come too soon there! That Mac used to be fast, but 36 megapixel photos slow it down drastically! :)
Eric

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
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#12 User is offline   MarkJReed5jau 

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  Posted 12 October 2013 - 10:17 AM

MEPace said:

"While compressed air isn’t naturally dangerous..." Always read the label! Some compress "air" contents are flammable, others can displace oxygen and should only be used in a well ventilated space. Don't forget eye protection. I like to run my vacuum nearby (not used in the computer) to suck up some of the displaced dust.



Canned air can also mar plastics, be careful around the trim.
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#13 User is offline   LeTap 

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  Posted 12 October 2013 - 11:16 AM

Being a smoker I have always been conscious about what gets into my Mac (since the IIsi) and keyboard.

I use a 25Litre compressor that I also use for checking the tyres on my car (garage gauges are so unreliable) and for blowing dust away when I'm doing a bit of woodworking in the workshop. Every six months or so I get my son to lug my Mac Pro to the conservatory, blow out all the dust from inside the machine, brush off residue with a 2-inch paint brush and then vacuum all the fans. My workshop vacuum doesn't generate static electricity (avoid vacuum tools made of plastic).

With the older keyboards I used to remove all the key tops and soak them in foam cleaning solution, rinse them, polish and refit keys. Amazing what you find under the key tops. With the new keyboards, I spray the foam cleaning stuff onto an old t-shirt and run the cloth over the key tops then vacuum the whole keyboard. The monitor gets opened once a year, dusted & vacuumed and the LCD gets treated with glass wipes.

My stuff always looks (and behaves) like it's brand new. My kids all think I am anally retentive, because I open up their Macbooks for similar treatment.
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#14 User is offline   MRBarrett 

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  Posted 12 October 2013 - 01:13 PM

Raymondo17 said:

&gt;So how do you clean the insides of an iMac?&lt; I'd like to know as well! Just this past weekend I approached my sister's noisy iMac with a can of compressed air and found that, unlike my Mac Pro, Apple apparently doesn't want you on the inside of that machine. I dutifully spritzed some compressed air into any crevice I could find, but I doubt it did any good.

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