During the last few days, my screen froze a couple of times. After opening the chassis I discovered plenty of dust beneath my mother board. I wonder if that can cause short circuits.

4 Answers 4


Dust is a problem from the standpoint of blocking fan vents, or, if deep enough, actually insulating parts, causing overheating, but unless it contains substantial amounts of corrosive or conductive material (in which case you shouldn't be breathing it), it won't damage the electrical components (beyond any overheating damage).

What could happen, in some circumstances, is condensation inside the box, mixing with dust and creating a conductive sludge. This would generally only occur if you bring the box in from an extremely cold environment (below 0C, roughly) into a humid indoor environment. The protection from this is to wrap the box tightly in plastic before bringing it indoors, and leave it wrapped for a couple of hours, while it has time to warm up.

  • You wouldn't quite need a frozen case to cause condensation, all that's necessary is that it's colder than the dew point of the environment it's in. Still not likely to happen though, unless you have a habit of storing your computer in the refrigerator.
    – Joren
    Sep 28, 2012 at 11:54
  • @Joren -- Yeah, for typical winter indoor conditions you'd need to have the equipment near 0C coming in for serious condensation to occur, but it could occur, eg, taking a computer out of an 18C computer center into a tropical environment. None of these scenarios are particularly common, but it's good to be aware of them. Sep 28, 2012 at 21:54

No way. Unless it over heats. Trust me, I have cleaned server motherboards deployed in Afghanistan for months with inches of dust caked on, still running fine. And as long as you keep them cool, they will survive.

Now, optical drives. That's a different story.

  • 1
    Thanks for the prompt answer. Would have checked it, if it were possible to do so for multiple answers. You've worked as a technician for the army?
    – Holy Sheet
    Sep 27, 2012 at 21:41
  • 3
    that reads exactly like something I would say: You've worked as a technician for the army? Holy Shit
    – SeanC
    Sep 28, 2012 at 3:09
  • 1
    You need to be careful how you clean, though. A domestic vacuum cleaner, for example, typically causes a significant amount of static electricity, which is perfectly capable of frying the motherboard... Sep 28, 2012 at 11:57

It hardly will cause short circuits, but it definitely leads to overheating. Your screen frozes are the consequences of this. You should clean everything with dry soft brush. Also check that all coolers are rotating. The speed of CPU fan you can see in BIOS/Power Management. Optionally you can see there the speed of other fans if they do support the feature.

  • Thanks for the prompt answer. Would have checked it, if it were possible to do so.
    – Holy Sheet
    Sep 27, 2012 at 21:40

I have used my air compressor for years. Dont put the nozzle less than 12 inches from anything and allow about 2 hours for condensation to evaporate after bringing back inside.Use a short air hose 25 feet or less. 50 foot hoses cause moisture in compressed air to condensate inside the hose and spit water. If really cold outside I dont do it as the condensation forming on it would be excessive when you come back in. If you have a semi warm garage to do it in it would be better. You will be amazed how much will blow out. I have a friend, pc guru who does the same. He's a mechanic also

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