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Laptop overheating, dust inside I think

By Tasshu · 22 replies
Jun 11, 2011
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  1. Hi guys,

    I have had my toshiba satelite A500 laptop for.. since it came out basically,

    I have never opened the laptop previously, since November last year, I have been having difficulties with my laptop, And about 90% of the time the laptop will shut of anytime between 2 minutes to 20 minutes of playing a game.

    It doesnt seem to shut off if im browsing internet, chatting on MSN, or even watching a movie. It only seems to shut of when im playing games, Which i do on my night shifts.

    I have a cooling fan underneith my laptop and it doesnt do much of a difference. I have monitored the temperature on Toshiba Pc Health Monitor. And it says CPU temperature 42-50% normally. When playing games the highest ive seen it is 81% which is in degrees C.

    I have been told to use canned air, But im not 100% were to put it, And ive been told to open the laptop up and do it myself - which im not confident at doing at all without a instruction manual, Which i dont have.

    Sorry for the massive page, But i thought the more details the better.

    Anyone got any suggestions? Ive browsed about but have not found much, Only "use canned air" But i still dont know were to put it, And cant find out about opening this.

    Sorry guys for the trouble,
    And im new to the forum :) Hello My name is Dan.
  2. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 514

    Hello Dan, welcome to TechSpot! :grinthumb :wave:

    There is a little "Hello all!"-forum here somewhere called "Introduce Yourself", I think you'll find it most appealing :D .


    Addressing the problem:

    Cleaning the PC is not difficult. However something may still break the first time around, so please be gentle!

    Now, as everybody told you previously, using canned air is the best way to go. Touching the components with your bare hands may shock them with electrostatic discharge (or ESD for short), and that's sure to fry out things in notime.

    As for the temperature, by saying up to 81% in degrees Celsius - you mean 81 degrees Celsius right? If so, then that PC is definitely overheated :haha: .

    If you want to clean out the dust, here is a short explanation on how to:

    Do not worry about opening the PC. Just be cautious regarding these things:
    1. If the laptop's lid doesn't come off right away, do not use excessive amounts of force. Find what's obstructing it, and gently remove the obstacle if possible.
    (You know, I actually sawed a *laptop in half once... I'm just saying ;) - *a Toshiba Tecra T9100)
    2. Do not touch the electrical components with your hands directly, or with a metal/conductive object. You might funnel ESD into the PC, which may ruin it for sure. There are "ESD bracelets" that prevents ESD altogether. Plastic "surgery styled" gloves will also prevent ESD.
    3. It is usually the big screws which hold the lid tight. There may be as many as 14 on a regular laptop. Make sure you remove all of the screws which holds the lid tight. Not all screws do this, some may only be holding onto the HDD, DVD drive or some other device.

    You are now set to clean you PC from the inside!

    What you need:
    - A screwdriver matching the screws - usually the common 'star' (also called Philip's), or in some cases even the uncommun 'torx' screwdriver.
    - A can of compressed air. With a nozzle on it of course.
    - A fine piece of cloth, like an old cotton t-shirt.

    1. Remove the screws which holds the lid onto the bottom.
    2. Gently remove the lid.
    3. You see dust? Blast it with the compressed air! Gone.
    4. Search and Destroy. (dust usually accumulates in intake/venting fans, on the PCB itself, and on flat surfaces). The more dust you blow away, the better.
    5. Collect all the dust bunnies you can find using a fine piece of cloth, like a t-shirt. This won't scratch the solderings, or ESD-shock the PCB.
    6. Close the lid. Make sure you re-use ALL the screws you previously removed.

    You're done.

    If you have any questions, ask away! And I (or some other TechSpot hero) will answer.
  3. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi there,

    Thank you for your really cool helpful instructions. I am at work at the moment but i will be sure to start doing this when i am home, I have ordered canned air from amazon. and i have a screw driver and obviously a t shirt.

    I have just remembered, About 4 months ago i attempted to open the laptop. I unscrewed the bottom, And there was the harddrive, And then there was the motherboard. But i could not get into the fans. Do i have to unscrew the whole main unit?

    And when you say laptop lid. Do you mean the bottom or the screen? Just to be on the safe side cos im a noob at this. Software im good at. Harddrive im useless! lol. Thing is.. I recently moved into a apartment, And i really have money to buy a new laptop if this goes wrong so im very worried..

    The bottom is on google, I cant post a link cos i dont have 5 comments or more. going to comment in the introductry, But its on there under Toshiba Satelite A500 bottom

    thank you for taking the time to reply. Im on a night shift tonight so i got all night to think about it lol

    Wow cant believe you sawed a laptop in half o.o
  4. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 514

    Don't worry about noobishness, everybody has to start somewhere!

    Not necessarily, blowing into the intake/vent directly will probably suffice. Just make sure you collect the dust.

    Oh, I meant the bottom of course :eek: - I used the term 'lid' because I couldn't really find a suitable word to describe it.

    I'll go have a look!

    The funny thing is that it's still working :D
    (I did after all cut it horizontally, and as I didn't cut any wires... well, there is no reason why it shouldn't work!)
  5. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Stupid question, Is the intake the one with the cool air or the hot air?? Cos i blew into it when it was on once n well.. Smoke. :/ It was a LONG time ago though. lol

    And wow. Amazing. If i was to even touch my laptop it wud explode. And you saw yours in half and it works LOL

    I got the canned air being delivered. So if i put it into the Cool Or Hot vent? It should help a bit?
  6. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 514

    Smoke? That was unexpected. Just to be cautious, I would remove the battery first, and clean it while it's off.

    As for the intake; both fans will be covered in dust eventually, so I would give both a good airblast. But as a purely academical question, the cool fan is usually the intake (no heated air) -- the hot one is usually the vent (the air has heated inside the PC).
  7. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ah okay, If i blowed into it with the canned air, Both ends, Would it work?

    And by chance were would the dust go? If i blow it through the intake and the vent without the canned air, Jus using my mouth would it help?

    Sorry for asking you loads of questions but just want to be very cautious.
  8. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 514

    If I'm out of pressurized air (or alike), I usually blow into the intake(s) using just my mouth, but I always make sure to have a very dry mouth first. (Don't want to get saliva onto the PCB... that won't go away in anytime soon. This by either chewing on some paper or using some chemical substance... I have forgotten its name unfortunately. Every little bit helps, but just the mouth ain't going to cut it unfortunately.

    As for the dust, it will either stick to the cooling rims or be blown out of the other went. The first option is best tackled with canned air once again.

    Don't worry about asking questions, if anything, answering improves my TechSpot rank :haha:
  9. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Do I need something to stop the fan from spinning? I heard if it spins to hard it will break and how hard to blow? If I blow in the cool end it will come out the hot end vise versa??

    And ty for your support
  10. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi, I jus blew into it. And the fan has stopped working...

    Warning: A problem with the cooling system has been detected.
    Please turn of the computer immediately, And return it for service?!

    I dont know wot to do :(
  11. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 514

    Um... I was just going to say that if you want to be on the safe side, you should shove a stick or a toothpick into the fan, because some smaller fans might run a little hard. Years ago, some would even over-volt.

    Then I saw the second post...

    At the very best, the fan is simply lodged into position, and can be pushed manually out of its 'lodged' position.

    At the very worst, the regulating fan capacitor might have 'over-volted', however this is unlikely.

    I sincerely hope that the motor hasn't burned out or anything, this seems even more unlikely. I can tell you that I've never seen this happening before.

    As for what to do now: if you remove the battery and run it off AC converted power, does the problem persist?

    If so, then the back's gonna come off, and I'll guide you best I can.

    Slash-sad-face :(
  12. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Argh I can't post on iPhone :(
  13. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    And I jus did :( I really duno wot to do, I shud of used a tooth pick but however I am going to take it to a local business. I got a feeling he's gone rip me of but if it helps.

    I do want to say ty for your help though. You have helped alot n I appreciate it. I'm sad my laptop fan has died but I duno wot I can do if u go any more advice let me know :) thanks dude.

    I live in england, do you know how much it wud cost to fix it by chance? Fan etc? Cos I got a feeling he's going to say £200-£300 :)
  14. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 514

    Just your luck, I'm an IT-entrepreneur specialised in computer repair and maintenance. :)

    If you're ok with leaving the laptop to your local repairman... hmm... let's think.

    I am fairly confident I know what he/she is going to do. He/she will probably test the laptop first via an ordinary start. It will most likely not damage the laptop unless he/she leaves it on for like 5 minutes or more.

    Once tested, he/she is probably going to open up the casing, then find the fan.
    They are easy to replace, so he/she'll probably replace the fan provided a spare fan is in stock. Just to see if the fan itself is causing the trouble.

    With some luck, it's just jammed, and will start working once nudged gently.

    (I'm just going to refer to the repairman as a 'he' from now on...)

    But if the fan won't work, he'll probably use a multimeter to see the pin output voltage. If it's good, that means that the motherboard is OK but the fan needs replacement.

    If it's a nice repairman, he'll use any non-perfectly specialised fan rated for the same voltage. That won't cost much. In worst case scenario, the 'bad' repairman might order the spare from the manufacturing line in either Hong-Kong or any equivalent, which can take weeks or hours depending on shipment status.

    If the pin voltage is low, the motherboard needs fixing. The usual way of 'fixing' means ordering a totally new motherboard, and man that's expensive... :( :(

    Best case: probably around £50.
    Worst case: maybe around £200...

    And: worst case also means that you will need to re-install the OS. All your files will be saved, but you need either access to a new OS, or a so-called substitute OS like Linux Ubuntu. In either way, saving all your files is still perfectly possible, but your programs will be lost.


    So your from England? Ah, jolly good UK. I don't reside in the UK, although my aunt lives in Plymouth, you know?
  15. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well last time I went to him I had a problem with my previous laptop.. The monitor broke from a spillage n it took about 2 weeks to get a replacement he ordered it from hong kong I think and it cost around £80 I think with labour. Also I think the motherboard is ok cos it loaded up with good timing and accept from the fan seemed okay. I only loaded it up for a mere minute or two.

    I'm worried he might leave it on for to long n break the whole thing ? He should know what he's doing though if he has a shop. I really hope the fan has just got stuck cos I blew into it and loaded it up n nothing.

    I'm also worried he may look at my files because of were I work I have files that should not be accessed by other people.

    And yes I know Plymouth :) lovely place south

    Oh forgot to say I smelt the vent the cool one it didn't smell great....
  16. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Update: the guy in Manningtree who fixes them is looking at it, and says the fan seems ok? Yet it didn't work for me.

    And is saying he will contact me Wednesday.
  17. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 514

    Well, I was more thinking about the CPU heat: it needs to dissipate. But it will take a while before it builds up. The heat has to be around 100 deg. Celsius on pre-modern to modern CPU's.

    That 'nothing'-part is what worries me. But if he said the fans are working, well that can be either good or bad.

    If Good: The fans were simply stuck.
    If Bad: The fans are working - the motherboard is damaged - very expensive :(

    Licensed repairmen are not allowed to do that unless it's work-related. I know that he can even be fined for doing so, provided one can prove it. Microsoft even implemented that function into the 'Properties' tab on Word-documents. You can see "last accessed" or "last opened" etc.

    So unless your files caused the fans to stop working, they are off-limits. :haha:

    Yeah, that is to be expected. Forgot to mention that :) , my guess is that it is airsolic dust particles smelling, stirred up by the cleanse.


    We'll see by then...
  18. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi dude, the guy at the shop is taking his damn time and is saying it will take till fri next week to look at it. - to long for me. So my friend who as taken apart a laptop is going to look he has static wristbands and laptop tools n I have canned air we going to do it on Friday do you have any tips or a guide or anything please. Thanks :)
  19. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    P.S your a legend.

    P.S have I got any hope in hell :(
  20. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok dude. I got some news.

    Im using my laptop as i type ;)

    The temp is 39-43 degrees on a game. The fan was blocked. And the size of the dust that came out of my laptop was 4inches long and about 2 inches thick!!.. Full of hair and dust.

    And the good thing is.. i took it in 2 hours ago. And it was fixed within 2 hours =D.. The other guy i sent it to i collected it back from cos he said it wud cost £300 cos the motherboard was broken, the hdd blew up, and other things.. So LOL

    Anyway if you read this, Thank you for all your support.

  21. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 514

    Oh, that means good news, then! :D

    Yikes... well there's your problem ;)

    :rolleyes: -- too bad there is no TechSpot ::-code for "facepalm".

    My pleasure; TechSpot is here to serve!

    Have a Great day!
  22. Tasshu

    Tasshu TS Rookie Topic Starter

    you too!!

    *High five*
  23. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,997

    There is a known issue with some Tosh laptops which is caused by the graphics chip overheating. This is turn causes the motherboard to warp slightly and the contacts on the graphics chip come away from the board. It will need re-flowing and there are not many who can do that. I have a contact in Milton Keynes who has done several for me - as the bit of kit needed costs nearly £20K there are not many about. There is no other way of doing it.

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