Laptop running hot in a house with pets?
A customer thought his Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 was running hot. As part of the free diagnostics, we checked the temperature of his microprocessor. It was running hot. He had pets at home and he had pet hair inside the laptop blocking the air flow and not allowing the machine to cool correctly. We disassembled the laptop, cleaned out the hair and dust, put new thermal grease on the CPU and reassembled the laptop. The temperature of the CPU dropped by more than 50 degrees (F)! This simple maintenance will extend the laptop’s life by several years.
CPUs will normally last for 25 years or more of normal use. However the hotter they run, the more their lifespans are reduced. As small as a 10 degree (F) increase in temperature can reduce the life of a CPU by as much as 2X. So the above 50 degree overheating would mean the CPU’s lifespan was being reduced from 25 years to something more like 25 years divided by 32, which is roughly 9 months!
You can check the temperature of your CPU yourself. If it is running over 75 degrees (C) then you should determine if a fan is blocked or perhaps the fan and/ or heat pipes need replaced. For Americans that don’t use the metric system everyday – keep in mind that CPU temperature measurements are done in metric so 75 (C) is 167 degrees (F). So even when the CPU temperatures are “normal”, the CPU will still be quite hot.
Any dust or hair can block the air ports on a laptop or more often, it will look fine on the outside, but will block the inside path of air flow. Long hair in particular is a concern because it will end up being wound around the fan spindle. That causes excess wear on the fan motor and will cause it to fail much earlier than usual. If hair has caused the fan to stop spinning, we will normally recommend the replacement of the fan because it will most likely fail soon.
The problem with computers running hot because of debris in the air flow path is quite common. In computers that are operated in an office or home, the normal items we find are hair and dust. Computers owned by smokers will often have a layer of tobacco tar coating the air channels. This is a problem because the tar is sticky and the dust has a much greater chance of being stuck inside the computer rather than being pulled in by the fan and then traveling the whole way through the computer and out the exhaust ports.
We do see computers that are operated in abnormal environments. We have a customer in Texas that has a large stone / gravel quarry and rock crushing facility. Because of the low humidity for much of the year, the rock dust at the site is a major concern. He was finding that the fans in his laptops would fail on a yearly basis. However he did not have smokers using the computers nor did he have a problem with hair. We suggested that he use canned air to blow out his laptops on a quarterly basis. He merely powers down the laptop and directs the canned air into the laptop IN THE SAME DIRECTION as the normal airflow. The additional pressure is enough to force much of the accumulated dust out of the machine. For his Thinkpads, this has worked very well and fan failure on these laptops have almost ceased. There are some other laptops that are “slim” in which the canned air approach is not effective. For those, he sends them to us over the 4th of July and Christmas holidays for dis-assembly and cleaning. This is a very abnormal situation but if you have questions – feel free to call or email us.
Finally we see many fan failures and cpu overheating due to the air input vents being blocked. Better business laptops such as Lenovo Thinkpads have both the input and exhaust located on the sides of the laptop. However many laptops put the air in vents on the bottom of the laptop. On a table, the “feet” of the laptop keep it off the table far enough to allow good air flow. However if one /more of the feet are missing or if the laptop is placed on a pillow / blanket, the air flow can be totally stopped.
On a related subject, I will mention a problem we saw this week with an Apple iMac. An iMac is a “all-in-one” computer in which the guts of the machine are behind the large LCD panel and it all sits on a desk like a monitor. The customer noticed streaks of a cloudy substance accumulating on the back of the glass which is over the LCD. We disassembled the iMac and found a great deal of dust inside the computer itself. Some of that dust was then being blown behind the glass of the monitor. We cleaned out the internal of the computer . Then we removed the glass and cleaned the inside. This resulted in correcting the problem.
Bottom line: keep the air flow through your computer free of obstructions but if there is a problem, the repair is typically low cost.
As always – we offer to provide a free diagnosis of your problem. We are conveniently located at 2446 SW Cary Parkway, Cary, NC 27513 for customers in Apex, Cary, Morrisville, Holly Springs, Raleigh, Garner and Durham.