TechSpot

Blown Capacitors

By Abraxas
Jul 13, 2005
  1. Well, not blown like in "BAM", but oozing out electrolyte. Almost all of those on the mobo are encrusted with it.
    Started with only one of them I assume I broke during clean-up. I shoved it just a bit and it popped, already. Bad product?

    Symptoms (I guess):
    I need a dozen boots until XP is running. All of those things happen at random:
    * not even POSTing, but automatically rebooting
    * the above, but then crashing to a bluescreen
    * crashing during XP loading screen (bluescreen, reboot or complete freeze)
    * while rebooting, asking for normal windows start or safe mode, taking normal there's a checkdisk scan of drives D and E (nothing unusual, I know), then anything of the above can happen
    * skipping the check, ditto

    Bluescreen usually says something like this:
    * page fault in non-paged area
    * IRQL something error
    * nothing (just STOP error codes)
    * something else (I don't pay attention any more...)

    Linux doesn't run any more at all (Suse 9.0 crash message). If XP is running it usually doesn't crash (sometimes it does, though) and a restart is going through with no problem.

    I can be fairly certain that there's a connection between the cracked capacitors and this booting behaviour, right?

    A few more questions:
    1) Is this unhealthy? For me, I mean. I guess not, but it can't hurt to ask.
    2) Can you recommend any tools to measure temperature in various hardware and the case? I'm not sure, perhaps they have blown because of heat.
    3) If I need to change hardware, what's the latest? I don't catch up with that any more. Didn't change this system in almost 3 years, I believe. :rolleyes:
    Might upgrade the CPU and put some more RAM into it while I'm at it.
     
  2. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 1,595

    1) Don't use the motherboard anymore. The capacitor popped for a reason, which I'll explain below
    2) You can damage components running without those caps. They assist in a variety of things inlcuding voltage stability.



    Capacitors are designed to pop like that when they are pushed too far, or simply begin to wear down over time. If you notice, there is an X carved into the top of other capacitors of that type. It's intended to make capacitor pop and stop working, making it obvious it needs repair.

    However, you're in luck. With just a few dollars and only a minor bit of saudering you can replace those capacitors.

    You'll need to get capacitors of the same voltage and capacitance of the one(s) that popped.

    Do you have a saudering iron and some sauder? If so you can heat up the contacts on the bottom of the board and slide the old capacitor out, replace it, ensuring to get the polarity correct, and apply a bit of sauder to the bottom of the board again to secure it in place.

    The capacitors won't run you more than $1.

    If you don't have a saudering iron, you might be able to take your board to a PC repair shop or an electrician and have them do it, or see if you can borrow one. The skill level needed to it is minimal.
     
  3. Triton

    Triton TS Enthusiast Posts: 112

  4. Abraxas

    Abraxas TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 205

    Thanks, Soul Harvester.
    Great link, Triton. I know that faulty capacitors are around, but can I really be sure it was not my fault? Because it popped when I pushed it during clean-up, like I said. Only that I think they really shouldn't pop that easily. And it wasn't the first time I cleaned the machine, of course, but that time I was a bit less careful about it.

    So...would you say they popped because they are bad or could it be me or could it be heat or both (or all, if you want)?
    Is there a way to find out? And does it matter? I mean, warranty-wise.
    It obviously matters if heat was involved, because I should make sure it doesn't happen in the future.
    In summer like we have now the CPU is at 60°+. I'd have to check for case temperature, but since I have not any surplus fan it might be a bit high. This could play a role in making the capacitors pop. Could be at least one factor playing into this.

    Right now, I need the machine for university stuff. It's not a good time for it to die or need repair. I guess switching capacitors doesn't take too long for a pro, does it? I don't have any of the equipment, btw.
    I read in some places that switching capacitors is risky, but probably because in those cases they really blew up all over the place. :D
     
  5. Triton

    Triton TS Enthusiast Posts: 112

    Your first post seems to indicate all capacitors on MB are showing signs of leakage;
    "but oozing out electrolyte. Almost all of those on the mobo are encrusted with it."

    I don't think the one in question would have "popped" unless it was already under pressure from the defective electrolyte.

    I don' t recommend people try to do these repairs themselves unless experienced in soldering.

    If the computer is under warranty I would RMA..
    If not under warranty the link I gave has another link to an online repair service.
     
  6. Abraxas

    Abraxas TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 205

    Yes, all of them.
    I have to check about the warranty. The online repair service probably doesn't do me any good, because I'm in Germany.

    I tried to sleep, but I couldn't because I have a nasty cough so I decided to stay awake those few hours until I have to go and turned the PC back on (I always turn it off over night because I can't sleep with the background noise).
    I got in with no problem. No additional reboot needed. Keep in mind that I lay awake in bed for about 2 hours until I decided to get up again. Should be quite a cold boot, then. Strange thing. Probably the capacitors save the "correct" balance needed to get a boot for a few hours? Would you happen to know how it works? It's quite interesting.

    But...of course, there are other problems. After XP booted I got an error in explorer.exe, it crashed, got back. I started Winamp and it crashed, too, with another error message. Started it again and no problems.

    If all of this is strange and you can think of some other problem I'm having, please tell me. I'd hate to switch capacitors or get a new board only to find that there is another thing wrong or perhaps another device already damaged by this mess.

    Edit:
    I have some more information (although probably nobody wants to hear about it as long as I'm running a board with spilled capacitors, hehe).
    There are no errors on logon in the Event Viewer...is that normal? Shouldn't there be an error for every bluescreen? Of course, only those happening during XP loadup - I guess - but not even those show up.
    And second, I read about minidumps - wasn't familiar with that concept - but my latest minidump is from 1st July...shouldn't there be a more recent one? Or is that because the system doesn't properly boot since about then?
     
  7. Mongo

    Mongo TS Rookie

    sauder isn't a thing and a sudering iron does not exist.
    Solder + soldering iron = makes sense.
    you= fail
     
  8. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,290   +25

    Sauder and solder are the same thing. Solder is sometimes pronounced or spelled as sauder.

    Don't flame without knowing what you're talking about.
     
  9. Mongo

    Mongo TS Rookie

    in English, the word "sauder" is not a word. and this is a post written in English.
    Maybe spelling something out phonetically is OK on a forum, but that doesn't make them correct.
    good luck on your EE degree.
     
  10. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,290   +25

    Soudure is the Middle English word from which solder is derived. Soudure is from solidure, which is the French term for "to join together", which itself comes from solidare, Latin for "to make solid". The pronounciation and subsequent spelling from the Middle English word is still used, and many specialist forums still have people who use "sauder" in place of "solder", since both basically mean the same thing.
     
  11. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 10,074   +13

    bear in mind we have some UK friends here whose spelling is different from us Americans. They also like to add a "U" after an "O" in many words for example. Color = US . Colour = UK. This comes from Normandy influences.

    Let's not get into petty arguments over pronunciations. The only thing I do not want to see here on TS is ghetto talk - like "warez" and hey u guyz. It's immature, childish, and reflects poorly on the writer's education.

    remember: yesturday i cudnt spel gradeate , 2day I r one !

    Now back to the subject: blown capacitors = a dead board. Many cheap capacators will leak over time. The chemical is toxic and caustic and should be avoided. The only solution is to either replace the capacitors with better grade ones or replace the mobo. The former is for experts and may not be worth the expense or time involved.
     
     
  12. tb421ny

    tb421ny TS Rookie

    Replacing the capacitors is fairly easy and only takes about an hour and will save you the $220 Dell wants for a recapped board ( 90 day warranty ). I do a lot of these at work and have a 99% success rate. You have to be sure to get Ultra low ESR caps from a good manufacturer. I only use Rubycons as they are the best but hard to find. Try thecapkingDOTcom for the caps and if you need instructions you can find them at capacitorlabDOTcom or in the badcapsDOTnet forums.
     
  13. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,290   +25

    Yes, but if done wrong, either the caps may not be soldered securely enough and may disconnect from the circuit on the PCB intermittently, or too much solder may lead to the solder joint becoming brittle over time. So you still need experience IMO.
     
  14. tb421ny

    tb421ny TS Rookie

    Yeah you can botch the job but the other option is tossing the board so you really don't have anything to loose. Do a little research and learn what a good solder joint looks like, practice on junk board and give it a go. Check out the forums at badcapsDOTnet they have tons of first timers who were able to do it no problem. The first couple I did I was a little shaky on and put a few extra dings in the board ( make a good stand ) but they all worked and haven't failed yet. I hadn't soldered in years, I was kind of surprised when I actually found my old iron.
     
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