Opinions on events leading to damaged mobo, cpu or ram

By abel2b
Nov 17, 2008
  1. Hello my name is Abel, I run a small pc and monitor repair shop in Argentina, A couple of days ago I had a problem with a customer and I ask for your opinions and comments, I sell computer parts and build custom pc´s, in 22 years I have seen many customer walk in with bad motherboard or fried cpu and rams yet I never had problems with systems I put together, but a couple of days ago I recieved a called from a customer´s lawyer.

    A local hotel called me because a cpu they where using 24/7 as a simple server, was acting weird, symptons described as constant self rebooting, freezing and system shuting down. I went over there and was led to a dirty carpeted office and under a desk among two other cpu was this server. after a quick checkup I came to the conclusion that the system was freezing or rebooting due to high cpu temp, I open the case and in fact the cooler ( oem intel lga775 fan cooler) was loose due to plastic retainers broken also there was tons of acumulated dust,lint and even hairballs. So I dusted and cleaned the cpu with a can of compressed air added thermal paste to a new replacement fan cooler and installed it tightly over the microprocessor. After a quick checkup to see if everthing is in order and I didn´t leaver any screws or tools behing I power up the cpu and everything booted up ok, I even stayed for a while looking at temperatures and voltages and everything look ok so I got paid and left. Then four month later I get a call from the hotel asking me to stop by, and when I do the owner tells me I have to replace or pay them a new system....what? Why? turns out the server went out during the night and early in the morning they drove it to a big computer world type store for a checkup and where informed that the mobo,ram and microprocessor where fried and when the hotel asked why this happen they where told that whoever built or serviced it messed up leaving the cooler loose and the motherboard touching the metal chasis.:rolleyes: after a quick arguement the only thing they had going was "that´s what we were told at computer world", so I drove over to the store and asked to talked to the guy that troubleshooted the pc, it was a young guy probably still in highschool, After a series of questions like, did mobo have mounting screws missing?, did cooler have broken or bent retaining clips ? all he could answer was "maybe", "could be" and " I don´t know", he said mobo had sign of a short underneath in the area of the socket pins, so I asked to see it and in fact had something, it´s not a direct short circuit because it usually leaves a black powder residue and/or burned pins even pins fused together, This was a cluster of about 8 pins that stuck out because they shiny with an oily look something like fresh solder covered in flux . Now I drove back to the hotel and argued with the owner saying I can not take responsibility for that pc because it was not caused by me. to which he asked how I came to that conclusion and I said that one, if the cooler was loose or not installed properly it would have done the symptoms that they called me in the first place and two I did not take out the mobo from the case for cleaning and he was present when I did that and that either way it would have not lasted over months. So the owner said ok maybe they where wrong, we would leave it at that bla bla bla bla!!! Now his lawyer is calling me asking to settle out of court by paying just for the pc or go to a small claims court and not only pay for the pc but for losses to the hotel due to the time the system was down.

    My conclusion was a coakroach was in there, I´ve seen power supplies go out because of them also I´m thinking now condensation because that office was very hot and musty.

    Please tell me your experience wtih these type of situations how did you resolved them and how would you decide what actually went wrong with that hadware.

    Thank you, have a nice day!!
  2. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    Get an experienced tech besides yourself to look at the PC and deliver a written report. I don't know if that'll be enough but it's a start.
  3. AtK SpAdE

    AtK SpAdE TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,495

    I am not a laywer nor are my thoughts legally sound, this is just logic.

    It has been four months since you serviced the machine. In the span of four months surely you could argue that a "short" would of occured. And is it possible that someone kicked the unit? Or it fell over from the desk it under? In my years of fixing PCs I have never seen a short cause a burn mark. Faulty equipement (Power Supply, CPU, even video cards) yes. But any short caused by ill-grounding has always led to the machine shutting down as soon as it is powered.

    I just cant believe after 4 months you could be responsible for a "short" or "overheating". Maybe a day or two after the service, sure. But 4 months?
  4. abel2b

    abel2b TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thank for the replies,

    AtK SpAdE: yes my first aguement was that since it was on the floor underdeath the desk someone might have bumped it with their feet or office chair. I also have seen pc´s where people tried to do something and left a loose screw underneath the motherboard and it left a black powder residue.

    Rage_3K_Moiz: mmm.. amazingly there is very little unity among tech guys out here because there is a lot of competion but I have a lot of support from tech in other states.:)
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