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Question Chemical like smell coming from pc

Jul 12, 2020
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Recently I decided to clean up the cables in my case, when I had finished, I turned it on to make sure it still worked and I noticed a strange smell coming from the back of my pc immediately. Since I had no idea what it was and I was scared it was something serious, I turned my pc off and unplugged it and opened my pc to check.

I could not see anything out of the ordinary but I noticed the smell was coming from the back of my case. My pc has a really weird layout and the motherboard is upside down and the psu is at the front of the case. My storage is at the front of the case. The area that the smell is coming from contains my gpu, mobo, and three case fans. I did turn it on again after leaving it for a while and the smell returned. I'm too scared to use my pc in case its something serious and its happening when my pc is on and before its even under any load so what could it be and how could I fix it?
 

Mrgr74

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Sep 2, 2019
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Recently I decided to clean up the cables in my case, when I had finished, I turned it on to make sure it still worked and I noticed a strange smell coming from the back of my pc immediately. Since I had no idea what it was and I was scared it was something serious, I turned my pc off and unplugged it and opened my pc to check.

I could not see anything out of the ordinary but I noticed the smell was coming from the back of my case. My pc has a really weird layout and the motherboard is upside down and the psu is at the front of the case. My storage is at the front of the case. The area that the smell is coming from contains my gpu, mobo, and three case fans. I did turn it on again after leaving it for a while and the smell returned. I'm too scared to use my pc in case its something serious and its happening when my pc is on and before its even under any load so what could it be and how could I fix it?
Hi @xC555

Without having the PC in front of us, it'll be a little hard to tell you exactly what the smell is, but did it smell like ozone? You know, that electrical smell during intense lightning storms or when you turn on an electric heater for the 1st time after it's sat in storage all year?

I ask because I'm wondering if while cleaning the cables inside your PC, small particles of dust & whatnot landed on your GPU which can get hot and so cause a smell. The same for your PSU if while cleaning you disturbed dust and when it turned on, it was circulated through your PC.

Have you given it a very good blow out to remove as much dust as possible? Do it again, this time making sure every nook & cranny inside your PC is "aired out" so to speak. Do you have a shopvac? If so, install the hose in the exhaust port so it goes from suck to blow. If you don't have a shopvac, then a hair dryer will work as well, though to a lesser degree. Avoid using canned compressed air as the propellant can cause chemical freeze burns to both your skin and if you're not careful, the components inside your PC.

Once everything is clean, trace every cable and make sure it's fully connected. If you feel comfortable, completely disassemble the PC and rebuild it from scratch, checking every component. Also check the case fans, watching them turn on and seeing if the smell originates from one of them. Do they spin freely? Are you or someone in your house a smoker? The smoke residue sticks like glue to electrical components once energized and it attracks dust like you wouldn't believe. This can in turn cause premature failure. Smell every section. If it continues to smell and it does not go away, disconnect the PSU from the wall and hold the power button in for 5 seconds to use any stored power. If you have checked every area and cannot see any visible cause, take your PC in to a local repair shop to have them do a service checkup.

Let us know how it goes.
 

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