Question Electronic burning smell from PSU after cleaning ?

May 18, 2021
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Took PC apart to clean it up, sprayed some compressed air on PSU and cleaned fans with a brush. Put it back together and played games for a few hours, after leaving and entering the room I noticed a faint smell of burning plastic/electronic coming from the PSU. Is it failing or did me trying to clean it push some dust inside it that made it burn? Having no issues with the PC besides the faint smell.
 

lvt

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Apr 19, 2021
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Compressed air could sometimes leave a little of condensation inside the components (depending on your room temperature), you should have waited a while before turning the PC on.
 
May 18, 2021
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Compressed air could sometimes leave a little of condensation inside the components (depending on your room temperature), you should have waited a while before turning the PC on.
I see that could be it, but does that mean the PSU is damaged? I was thinking of leaving it off for a day to see if the smell stops.
 
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lvt

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I see that could be it, but does that mean the PSU is damaged? I was thinking of leaving it off for a day to see if the smell stops.
Blowing the hot air through it for 3 minutes with a hair driver should do the job (don't place the hair dryer too near the components or you will melt something).

PSU usually don't die that easy, but be careful next time.
 

avg9956

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Apr 7, 2019
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You have to blow can of compressed air in a proper way. You may have inverted the can while using it.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXrBPzVqaDs


Personally I don't use can of compressed air and prefer to use an electric duster (You can't really go wrong with air...) To keep the fan from spinning, I insert a popsickle stick and that's how I blow my PSU clean. Put some distance between self and PSU while using duster if the air pressure is too high.

No issues experienced whatsoever.
 
May 18, 2021
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Yeah I think its busted. Tried blowing on it with the dryer and used the PC for 30 minutes, the smell was there again and it started making low clacking noises so I turned it off for safety.
 

jay32267

Glorious
Yeah I think its busted. Tried blowing on it with the dryer and used the PC for 30 minutes, the smell was there again and it started making low clacking noises so I turned it off for safety.
I think what may have happened is you may have blown something conductive between two nodes that shouldn't be connected.
If it smells and is making noises like you say...I would replace it.
 

lvt

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Yeah I think its busted. Tried blowing on it with the dryer and used the PC for 30 minutes, the smell was there again and it started making low clacking noises so I turned it off for safety.
Ok so try this as the last resort.

  1. Disconnect the PSU from wall outlet while leaving the switch on 1 or ON position.
  2. Press the Power button on your computer a couple of time to drain the PSU's remaining charge.
  3. Remove the PSU from computer case, leave it overnight to make sure that the capacitors have completely drained.
  4. Run fresh water thought it thoroughly from all sides for several minutes (don't worry, water doesn't harm electronics when there is no electricity).
  5. Leave it dry overnight in front of a electric fan, the PSU's colling fan should be placed against the electric fan. The rear of the PSU should be turned downward to allow water to escape.
  6. Try again the next day to see if the smell has gone, if the PSU runs silently, you are good.
If step 6 doesn't end well, consider this an expensive lesson. But at least you've done everything you could to save your equipment.
 
May 18, 2021
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Ok so try this as the last resort.

  1. Disconnect the PSU from wall outlet while leaving the switch on 1 or ON position.
  2. Press the Power button on your computer a couple of time to drain the PSU's remaining charge.
  3. Remove the PSU from computer case, leave it overnight to make sure that the capacitors have completely drained.
  4. Run fresh water thought it thoroughly from all sides for several minutes (don't worry, water doesn't harm electronics when there is no electricity).
  5. Leave it dry overnight in front of a electric fan, the PSU's colling fan should be placed against the electric fan. The rear of the PSU should be turned downward to allow water to escape.
  6. Try again the next day to see if the smell has gone, if the PSU runs silently, you are good.
If step 6 doesn't end well, consider this an expensive lesson. But at least you've done everything you could to save your equipment.
Couldn't that possibly damage the rest of my PC? I have an old 450w PSU by the way, not sure if it would be good enough for my Ryzen 5 3600 and 3060.
 

lvt

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Apr 19, 2021
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Couldn't that possibly damage the rest of my PC? I have an old 450w PSU by the way, not sure if it would be good enough for my Ryzen 5 3600 and 3060.
Step 3: remove the PSU from your computer case.

You are dealing with the PSU alone, not the computer.

Also make sure that there is no water left in the connectors, place all the connector in front of the electric fan so that they will dry.
 

Gam3r01

Titan
Moderator
If you are ever at a point where you decide you need to flush a component, please use a high percentage isopropyl alcohol and not water.
Water in theory wont cause an issue if all the capacitors are properly drained (which in a power supply is going to be hard to do) in terms of shorting, however water will evaporate far more slowly than alcohol, meaning it can soak into the PCB and potentially stay there for some time, or even begin to delaminate the PCB itself.

Dont wash a power supply, thats just not a good plan. The capacitors in a PSU can and will hurt you if you do it wrong.
 

NightHawkRMX

Polypheme
Ambassador
If you are ever at a point where you decide you need to flush a component, please use a high percentage isopropyl alcohol and not water.
Water in theory wont cause an issue if all the capacitors are properly drained (which in a power supply is going to be hard to do) in terms of shorting, however water will evaporate far more slowly than alcohol, meaning it can soak into the PCB and potentially stay there for some time, or even begin to delaminate the PCB itself.

Dont wash a power supply, thats just not a good plan. The capacitors in a PSU can and will hurt you if you do it wrong.
Not only that, but if you use something like tap water or even most bottled water, it will have conductive minerals in it which it can leave behind.

Distilled water theoretically would be the best bet, but either use 99% alcohol or better yet don't mess with that.
 

FoxVoxDK

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Please, PLEASE, do not wash your PSU's in water. How is this even on the table as an option?

Isopropyl 70% or higher sure I can somewhat agree to that, but never water, it evaporates slowly and can hide everywhere.

Also, if those caps aren't completely drained...you're going to have a very bad day.
 
Reactions: avg9956

avg9956

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Or just go with an electric duster. Its air and no water!
Remember that the other 30% of a Ispropyl 70% alchohol is made up of water.

Tap water = water with minerals. Minerals = Conductive.
Distilled water = Water with no minerals. Doesn't necessarily mean its safe to use either.

Even tap or distilled water, I highly disagree washing your PSU with water as mentioned in the post above me.
If you did went ahead and wash it with water, make sure its COMPLETELY dry or else you greet the magic smoke!

Effect of distilled water on electronics
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGbQ2FPDqkw


And true, remember that capacitors can hold a charge for a VERY LONG time. It doesn't necessarily mean when you turn off your PC/PSU, that the capacitors are discharged. This is the reason why its not advised to open a PSU and poke around with your finger touching things inside.
 

madmatt30

Titan
Ambassador
Sounds to me like you've blown compressed air directly on the psu fan and burnt out/damaged the motor.

The burning smell and sound you describe are absolutely synonymous with that.

Its a common schoolboy error, you should always hold the fan blades still when blowing compressed air.
 

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