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cleaning a pc with air compressor

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I just bought a portable air compressor from 4WO truck parts It is for my car but I'm thinking of using it to clean my computer also since the pressure can be adjusted. Just wondering what everyone thinks of using a compressor? I'm planning to set the pressure at 30-40 and hold it fairly far away.

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I would not recommend doing general PC cleaning with an air compressor for three reasons:


1. Air (especially dry) traveling at high speeds and pressures creates static electricity, which can short and damage or destroy components.

2. Forcing air into a case with that pressure and speed can embed particulate into undesirable locations.

3. It is impossible to control the debris leaving the PC in that manner, and dust particulate may create a hazard to persons nearby.


Instead, what I would recommend is two stage:


1. Remove all fans (including CPU heatsink and fan) from the computer, blow each fan out with compressed air individually. Make sure to blow air into the clean side of the fan/heatsink being cleaned (to force air out the same path it came in, which is usually where the dust cakes up).

2. With the fans removed, remove the CPU itself and RAM sticks, then ground the PC and a vaccum and use a small precision attachment on a vacuum cleaner to remove the remaining dust from the PC case. Make sure not to directly attack / suck against the motherboard itself (or hard drives, PSU, etc.), and do this in a room with about 40-60% relative humidity. (The humidity will help reduce static discharge in the air and help prevent ESD from damaging components in the PC.)


Been cleaning PC's this way for years, and currently zero failure incidents as a result of cleaning. (Knock on wood.)




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For the past 15 years I have always used an air compressor...  60 gallons @ 175PSI set to 80 on the hose, never once has static been an issue.  I also don't bother with a dryer on the line, and yeah, I see moisture come out on short bursts, never once has it been an issue for me though I don't have droplets of water come out either. You are more liable to see static issues on plastic hose attachments with a vacuum cleaner and the attachment being that close to the machine for it to suck any decent amounts of dust away.  Chances of static jumping from the air in a compressor hose to your machine when you have the air tool ~24 inches away is pretty much non-existent.

What is bad is having the pressure too high when you are too close to the machine with the tool, and when you let the fans spin freely.  Gonna blow SMD's off or cook a bearing real fast.

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As ridiculous as it sounds, most computer components such as the motherboard, PSU and certain expansion cards can survive a full dishwasher cycle.  Obviously that's not how I recommend cleaning a PC. :wink2:


The following 8-year old video is an example.  The internals were covered in cigarette smoke residue, so he decided to dismantle the components and put them through the dish washer, with the exception of the case, battery and the hard disk. 



I also enjoy watching videos on old hardware such as restoration videos.  I have come ones where such hobbyists put components through a dishwasher cycle to clean extensive debris build-up from being left for 10+ years in storage such as a dusty shed.


As long as no moisture remains when the PC is powered up, it should be fine.  I generally clean my PC with an air duster, which is basically an aerosol can filled with propellant gas.  Here in Ireland, humidity is usually on the high side, e.g. I run a dehumidifier to keep the indoor level below 60%.


The only component I may wash is the keyboard.  I have a Corsair Cherry Red Mechanical keyboard that I accidentally knocked a glass of cider on.  I immediately unplugged it, tried wiping off what I could and let it dry.  Once dry, many of the letters were sticking.  When I started removing the keys to try cleaning below, I realised the mechanical switches were jamming. :o


With what appeared to be a ruined keyboard that I only purchased a few months before the incident, I figured I'll try giving it a bath as we don't have a dishwasher.  I partially filled a wide container with water from our dehumidifier (since it's effectively distilled), soaked the keyboard and pushed each key multiples times to force water through the switches.  I left it to dry for about a week.  It's fully functional again, all keys work and no sticking or other issue since.  :smile2:

Edited by Sean

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Like a portable air compressor is not meant for PC cleaning,... I guess you could use it if used from a minimum distance.

Close range would cause pressure damage as previously mentioned above ^


I use compressed air designed for computer dusting/cleaning. So the psi is not too strong in the first place but not too weak either.


but a portable air compressor is powered... that would concern me....

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