Smelling a Rat

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by Dave Hardenbrook, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. My saga with my client's MicroATX with the defective Power Supply
    continues...

    I purchased a new PS and installed it. As everything seems okay, I'm
    now turning to my client's other complaint, which she described as a
    "Smell like burning oil" when the system is running. Sure enough, after
    I let the system run for a while, I detected the aroma such as you smell
    at the service station when some gas has spilt onto the ground. I'm
    really stumped by this and was wondering if anyone here had any idea
    what in the computer might produce such a smell and whether it should be
    a matter of concern.

    Here are the details on my client's system: It is a MicroATX that was
    built for her about four years ago by her son. The CPU is a Duron
    800Mhz, 256M RAM, and an ECS EliteSystems Mobo (full specs uncertain as
    she has no documentation for the mobo, or indeed for any system
    components). The Power Supply is 200W, the highest I could find. The
    chassis is unlike what I've encountered before. She is my only client
    with a MicroATX system, and it is unlike the kind of "Cube Case" I've
    see in bare-bones MicroATX systems in stores, but shaped like a mini-
    tower lying on its side. I will say that things are very cramped inside
    there: The floppy and hard drives are situated sideways just in front of
    the Power supply, and the CD-ROM drive is suspended over the mobo and
    CPU, so that the first thing air blowing out of the CPU fan encounters
    is the underside of the CD-ROM drive. The cables from the power supply,
    IDE, and floppy drives fill up most of what little empty space there is.

    With things so cramped in there, I wonder if it could possibly be
    getting sufficient ventilation in there -- When I looked at the "PC
    Health" screen in the CMOS, it registered 55 degrees C (131 F) for the
    CPU, and 45 C (113 F) for the System as a whole. (It was even hotter
    before with the old 150W PS, and before I reversed the rear chassis fan,
    which had been originally installed so that air was blowing *into* the
    system!)

    So could the smell be caused by a mobo that's currently still working
    but in dsnger of getting heatstroke? Or is it something about this
    unusual chassis? (Did I mention it's kind of a grayish-puce?) Would my
    client be better off with a Full-ATX system?

    Thanks ahead.

    --
    Dave
    Dave Hardenbrook, Apr 20, 2005
    #1
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  2. Dave Hardenbrook

    Captain Lon Guest

    If it is overheating because of the small spaces involved, then just take
    the components and put them in a larger case. That is if they re not
    damaged at this point.

    Why not take it somewhat apart on your bench, make sure the mobo has plenty
    of air circulation, and see if it still smells.

    Not sure what would give an 'oil' smell. I do know that what appears to be
    bare wires in electronics are actually covered with a clear coating. If the
    wires get hot, the coating can melt. This smells like varnish burning, if
    you can imagine that. Not sure if that is the same thing that is happening
    here. That usually applies to transformers. Hmmmmm...

    Perhaps a cockroach crawled into the machine and is now burning up.

    This is a good little problem you have here. Sorry I am not much help, but
    I am following this saga. Keep us posted on new developments.

    Captain Lon
    --
    All your base are belong to us.


    "Dave Hardenbrook" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > My saga with my client's MicroATX with the defective Power Supply
    > continues...
    >
    > I purchased a new PS and installed it. As everything seems okay, I'm
    > now turning to my client's other complaint, which she described as a
    > "Smell like burning oil" when the system is running. Sure enough, after
    > I let the system run for a while, I detected the aroma such as you smell
    > at the service station when some gas has spilt onto the ground. I'm
    > really stumped by this and was wondering if anyone here had any idea
    > what in the computer might produce such a smell and whether it should be
    > a matter of concern.
    >
    > Here are the details on my client's system: It is a MicroATX that was
    > built for her about four years ago by her son. The CPU is a Duron
    > 800Mhz, 256M RAM, and an ECS EliteSystems Mobo (full specs uncertain as
    > she has no documentation for the mobo, or indeed for any system
    > components). The Power Supply is 200W, the highest I could find. The
    > chassis is unlike what I've encountered before. She is my only client
    > with a MicroATX system, and it is unlike the kind of "Cube Case" I've
    > see in bare-bones MicroATX systems in stores, but shaped like a mini-
    > tower lying on its side. I will say that things are very cramped inside
    > there: The floppy and hard drives are situated sideways just in front of
    > the Power supply, and the CD-ROM drive is suspended over the mobo and
    > CPU, so that the first thing air blowing out of the CPU fan encounters
    > is the underside of the CD-ROM drive. The cables from the power supply,
    > IDE, and floppy drives fill up most of what little empty space there is.
    >
    > With things so cramped in there, I wonder if it could possibly be
    > getting sufficient ventilation in there -- When I looked at the "PC
    > Health" screen in the CMOS, it registered 55 degrees C (131 F) for the
    > CPU, and 45 C (113 F) for the System as a whole. (It was even hotter
    > before with the old 150W PS, and before I reversed the rear chassis fan,
    > which had been originally installed so that air was blowing *into* the
    > system!)
    >
    > So could the smell be caused by a mobo that's currently still working
    > but in dsnger of getting heatstroke? Or is it something about this
    > unusual chassis? (Did I mention it's kind of a grayish-puce?) Would my
    > client be better off with a Full-ATX system?
    >
    > Thanks ahead.
    >
    > --
    > Dave
    Captain Lon, Apr 20, 2005
    #2
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  3. Could it be the ozone smell of electrics burning out?
    the_angry_monkey, Apr 20, 2005
    #3
  4. Dave Hardenbrook

    D. Brown Guest

    "Dave Hardenbrook" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > My saga with my client's MicroATX with the defective Power Supply
    > continues...
    >
    > I purchased a new PS and installed it. As everything seems okay, I'm
    > now turning to my client's other complaint, which she described as a
    > "Smell like burning oil" when the system is running. Sure enough, after
    > I let the system run for a while, I detected the aroma such as you smell
    > at the service station when some gas has spilt onto the ground. I'm
    > really stumped by this and was wondering if anyone here had any idea
    > what in the computer might produce such a smell and whether it should be
    > a matter of concern.
    >
    > Here are the details on my client's system: It is a MicroATX that was
    > built for her about four years ago by her son. The CPU is a Duron
    > 800Mhz, 256M RAM, and an ECS EliteSystems Mobo (full specs uncertain as
    > she has no documentation for the mobo, or indeed for any system
    > components). The Power Supply is 200W, the highest I could find. The
    > chassis is unlike what I've encountered before. She is my only client
    > with a MicroATX system, and it is unlike the kind of "Cube Case" I've
    > see in bare-bones MicroATX systems in stores, but shaped like a mini-
    > tower lying on its side. I will say that things are very cramped inside
    > there: The floppy and hard drives are situated sideways just in front of
    > the Power supply, and the CD-ROM drive is suspended over the mobo and
    > CPU, so that the first thing air blowing out of the CPU fan encounters
    > is the underside of the CD-ROM drive. The cables from the power supply,
    > IDE, and floppy drives fill up most of what little empty space there is.
    >
    > With things so cramped in there, I wonder if it could possibly be
    > getting sufficient ventilation in there -- When I looked at the "PC
    > Health" screen in the CMOS, it registered 55 degrees C (131 F) for the
    > CPU, and 45 C (113 F) for the System as a whole. (It was even hotter
    > before with the old 150W PS, and before I reversed the rear chassis fan,
    > which had been originally installed so that air was blowing *into* the
    > system!)
    >
    > So could the smell be caused by a mobo that's currently still working
    > but in dsnger of getting heatstroke? Or is it something about this
    > unusual chassis? (Did I mention it's kind of a grayish-puce?) Would my
    > client be better off with a Full-ATX system?
    >
    > Thanks ahead.
    >
    > --
    > Dave


    Some capacitors are filled with oil, sometimes when they get zapped the caps
    will bust open and leak. Could be some oil ran down into the case or on to
    the Mobo from when the old PS died and gets heated up when the system is
    running.
    D. Brown, Apr 21, 2005
    #4
  5. On Wed, 20 Apr 2005 05:20:37 GMT, Dave Hardenbrook
    <> wrote:

    >My saga with my client's MicroATX with the defective Power Supply
    >continues...
    >
    >I purchased a new PS and installed it. As everything seems okay, I'm
    >now turning to my client's other complaint, which she described as a
    >"Smell like burning oil" when the system is running. Sure enough, after
    >I let the system run for a while, I detected the aroma such as you smell
    >at the service station when some gas has spilt onto the ground. I'm
    >really stumped by this and was wondering if anyone here had any idea
    >what in the computer might produce such a smell and whether it should be
    >a matter of concern.
    >


    If you could describe the smell as perhaps a fishy smell, it could be
    a failing electrolytic capacitor.

    Tom
    Tom MacIntyre, Apr 21, 2005
    #5
  6. In article <>,
    says...
    > Some capacitors are filled with oil, sometimes when they get zapped the caps
    > will bust open and leak. Could be some oil ran down into the case or on to
    > the Mobo from when the old PS died and gets heated up when the system is
    > running.


    Could these oil deposits affect the system's performance or shorten its
    life?

    --
    Dave
    Dave Hardenbrook, Apr 23, 2005
    #6
  7. In article <80s9e.22532$H_5.22199@trnddc01>, says...
    > This is a good little problem you have here. Sorry I am not much help, but
    > I am following this saga. Keep us posted on new developments.


    Thanks to everyone for your interest and advice! I've been trying to
    better pinpoint what the smell reminds me of -- Then it hit me... It
    smells like my grandfather's movie projector that I liked to operate
    when I was a kid. Not sure if that helps any -- I don't know what the
    common element would be with a computer system, but that's what the
    smell triggers in my memory.

    I replaced the Power Supply this past Friday, and told her to wait a
    week, RE: JC's suggession about the lacquer in the new Power Supply.
    We'll see how it goes.

    --
    Dave
    Dave Hardenbrook, Apr 23, 2005
    #7
  8. Dave Hardenbrook

    D. Brown Guest


    >
    > Could these oil deposits affect the system's performance or shorten its
    > life?
    >
    > --
    > Dave


    Anything conductive that is spilled on the MoBo cannot be good, you run the
    risk of shorting something out.
    D. Brown, Apr 24, 2005
    #8
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