How bad is it to (temporarily) keep using a computer power supply in which both fans have died?
February 8, 2005 10:09 AM   Subscribe

How bad is it to (temporarily) keep using a computer power supply in which both fans have died? [+]

I bought a power supply on the cheap about a year ago, and now I'm paying the hidden cost. The fan that blows out the back was supposed to be temperature sensative, but I don't think that it ever actually ran. The fan that blows into the PSU was making wierd noise for a few months now, and I just noticed today that it has stopped working altogether (probably happened last night), so the PSU is not being directly cooled at all anymore. The case is not in danger of overheating (4 case fans).
The power supply is rated 450W, and is powering: 4 case fans, 4 hard drives, 1 CD/DVD R/RW drive, 1 floppy drive, 1 zip drive, and an iPod on a USB connection, but most of this stuff is not being used much (if at all).
I ordered a new PSU as soon as I noticed this morning, but is this a dangerous situation? Should I be using my computer at all right now?
posted by Who_Am_I to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
I would make sure the fans aren't stuck or something. If the case is adequately cooled, you should be fine, but not if they short out from being stuck.
posted by easyasy3k at 10:34 AM on February 8, 2005

My experience is that in a matter of days the computer will turn off and not turn on again. :) Then you buy a new PSU.
posted by knave at 11:35 AM on February 8, 2005

it's possible that a dying power supply could take out your mobo. get a new one!
posted by plexiwatt at 11:56 AM on February 8, 2005

I'd use such a machine for a few minutes at a time, but if the case is of average (i.e. poor) airflow design, I'd just keep it off until it's fixed. Power supplies are so cheap compared to the stuff they'll destroy when they crap out, that limping on a broken one is silly -- thirty bucks at the whitebox shop down the street will take care of the problem.
posted by majick at 12:41 PM on February 8, 2005

just because the fans died doesn't mean your ps is crapping out. If you're getting some airflow through the power supply due to your 4 case fans, i would guess you're ok until your new one arrives.

feel it getting hot? I would take it easy and give it some cool off time when you aren't using it just to be safe though.
posted by jacobsee at 1:14 PM on February 8, 2005

when this happened to me one time I just took off the side of the tower case and set up a small table fan blowing right into the side of the computer. seemed to dissipate the heat quite nicely.
posted by jacobsee at 1:16 PM on February 8, 2005

The PSU is really cheap, so I figured I should just replace it rather than try to fix the fans. The case is actually very good quality, with good airflow (it's a nice Chieftec small server tower), and the PSU is not hot at all. Thanks guys!
posted by Who_Am_I at 1:20 PM on February 8, 2005

If the PSU is cheap, by all means replace it, but repairing fans is unbelieveably easy.

Take off the top of the PSU. Make sure it's unplugged. Okay, do that first. :-D

Don't touch the components inside the PSU. Most especially, don't touch the underside of the circuit board. Some shocking voltages may be present inside the capacitors.

Now, remove the fan(s). Peel back the manufacturer's sticker on it. You may see a plastic plug. Remove this and save it for later.

Now, add some light machine oil to the spindle. Spin the fan with your finger a few times. Dab up the now dirty oil with a q-tip. Repeat until the oil remains clean. Add the oil again. Seal up with the plug (if it was there) and put some electrical tape where the sticker was. Put the PSU back together.

The newly oiled fan should last at least 1 year. Personally, I've witnessed them last 3 or more years when oiled properly.

posted by shepd at 3:31 PM on February 8, 2005

Same here, jacobsee.
posted by Tlogmer at 8:59 PM on February 8, 2005

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