How long can my computer safely run with a dead fan?
June 27, 2004 8:16 PM   Subscribe

My computer's fan just gave out completely. Is every second it stays on eminent danger or do I have a few hours?
posted by Tlogmer to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
turn it off, then try blowing the dust out thats likely choking the fan to a standstill.

If that fails, keep it off. Get it fixed.
A new powersupply is $50 and 20 minutes of your time(half that if you change it yourself), while a new comp is at least 4x more.
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:31 PM on June 27, 2004

Which fan? The CPU Fan? Or one of the ones on the case?

If it's a case fan, just pop open the side of your case and make sure you have decent ventilation in your room. You could leave it like that pretty much indefinitely.

If it's your CPU fan -- it depends on your processor how much danger you are in, but you shouldn't run it all without a CPU fan in any case.
posted by malphigian at 8:31 PM on June 27, 2004

Oh, or if it's the power supply fan (forgot about that one), you should see Fupped Duck's advice above.
posted by malphigian at 8:32 PM on June 27, 2004

It's pretty much silent, so all the fans are out (I assume I'd hear the CPU fan). Couldn't find the fans when I opened the case; they both seem to be further encased. Now, uh, logging off.
posted by Tlogmer at 8:34 PM on June 27, 2004

The CPU fan is pretty quiet; you won't hear it unless your head is right next to it. It sits on the heatsink on top of the CPU.

I was once building a machine, left the room for a few minutes while the OS was installing, and came back to find the machine dead frozen. Shut it down and it wouldn't boot back up. I then decided to do some hardware rearrangement I'd been meaning to do, stuck my head in the case, and Damn, was it toasty in there... Turned out a wire had stuck on (and stopped) the CPU fan, causing a nasty, nasty overheat. I let it sit for about fifteen minutes, then booted it up. Even after that long, the CPU temperature monitor was reading over 250 degrees Farenheit, quite hot enough to cook marshmallows. Luckily the machine turned out all right; CPU fan problems are generally deadly, though, and you won't be typing for long after they happen.

So it's probably just a case or power source fan. The power source fan is critical to keeping the power source from overheating and possibly exploding. The case fan just keeps the temperature down a couple extra degrees; if it's a case fan, don't worry too much, but it's still smart to replace it.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:50 PM on June 27, 2004

I actually, do h.ear something, now that I've booted up again to notice. But ... explode? Jesus. *turns open case away from leg* I'll pull the plug right after I hit post, I think.
posted by Tlogmer at 9:54 PM on June 27, 2004

I think it's unlikely to send shrapnel flying but it could start a fire, I suppose --- I wouldn't leave it running unattended with the power supply fan dead.

All of these are worst-case suggestions, of course. It might run fine with the fan stopped. But if I were you I'd see to it soon; fans are cheap to replace.
posted by hattifattener at 10:21 PM on June 27, 2004

I have had a power supply "explode" on me. What happens is the huge honkin' capacitors in them pop. Actually, they don't pop, they "bang". I heard my power supply die two rooms away, with a television blaring. There probably won't be shrapnel, if for no other reason than the entire supply is enclosed in a metal case. But you will hear it when it goes.

Failure is dependant on how hot/cold your room is and how old the computer is. Hot room, power supply fan, old power supply -- I'd give you a couple of days. Cool room, case fans -- just pick up some fans whenever you get a chance, but it's not an emergency.

CPU fan? Replace immediately. In fact, you shouldn't even be reading at this point, you should turn off your computer before it eats itself. Now, dammit.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:18 PM on June 28, 2004

I had a cruddy power supply for a while, the fan locked up one night while I was out. I came back to a machine that kept trying to restart, but the power supply kept turning on and off. The case was nearly hot enough to cause a burn. I unplugged it for a while and when it cooled down banged on the fan a bit until it spun freely again.
posted by borkencode at 7:39 PM on June 28, 2004

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