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Question I’m looking for help with the weirdest electricity and computer problem you probably have ever heard

Beachloveriow

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I have owned over the past 7 years every make and model of pc and laptop on the market. Here’s the weird part

They have all failed within one month of use.
Mostly the power supply units fail. Which makes sense as the psu is the first line of defence from the electrical outlet to the pc.
Other times it is the graphic cards that fail.

On laptops it’s the motherboards that fail. Which makes sense as the GPU is often inter grated onto the boards.

This year alone I have had 2 ASUS predators desktops. 3 MSI desktops. 2 MSI laptops. 2 dell desktops. And finally a Lenevo gaming desktop which lasted all but 5 days on it way back for refund.

Now this has been going on for 7 years so no need to list the previous years pc purchases. Just let me say they never last any longer than 30 days at the max. No way could I be so unlucky as to have purchased over 50 different makes and models of faulty PCs

In that time I have had many visits from qualified Electricians. All outlets have been tested and passed. A new main RCD panel has been fitted one that has built in surge protection.
A power regulator has also been fitted that comes off the RCD unit.

When a pc fails sometimes it trips the outlet RCD but mostly it does not.

I have had numerous UPS backup battery’s with UPS surge protection.
I have used different outlets in different rooms. Still a PC or Laptop does not last more than a week.

The house is not particularly hot cold or damp. I don’t notice any static coming off me. PCs at work don’t fail so it got to be something in the house.

it is standard uk energy supply. The supplier has tested the incoming electricity and said it fine. They even dig up the road to switch me to another ring on the street.

I have had an electrician test all outlets and my appliances such cookers fridges etc.

As far as I’m aware nobody else on the street has any issues.
I don’t live near a power plant or any other place that might draw a lot of electricity.

So my questions are
How can so many PCs fail?
If it’s surges how do they get through the surge protection on the RCD and then the UPS?

Why does my TVs, IPhone, iPad and other sensitive devices not fail too?

I would gladly pay a small fortune if anyone could solve this issue and prove that a pc can last at least a year in my house.
 
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Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
RCD being Residual Current Device - correct?

What software is running on the PC's - gaming, graphics work, bit-mining?

Network connections? Ethernet: Routers, switches.

Any home entertainment devices connected? Any problems with audio - humming for example?

Are there ever any error codes, pop-up windows, or precursors to the PC's failing?

There seems to have been all sorts of tests but the tests seem to focus on individual components.

Have any of the electricians sketched out a diagram of the entire house electrical system? What is connected and where is it connected?

Could be that there is some "perfect storm" situation occurring. I.e., all seems well for a few days then some particular pattern of devices and circuits occurs and the computer is zapped.

Ground loop?
 
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Beachloveriow

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Hi
It is not just one pc it has been several that’s why i did not list the specs.
Software normally windows 10 but apple IOS products have also failed.
Nothing is connected to the PCs except a keyboard and mouse. It happens to PCs that are connected via WiFi or Ethernet.

I never get a chance to see any error codes. Because one minute the PCs will work and next they won’t turn on.

I don’t know what a perfect storm means.
RCD is the fuseboard for the house. Each with its own ring for different things. For example cooker. Shower. Lights. Sockets.

by the way I had a dell gaming pc delivered last night. Today it has died and will not switch on. The fuses for the outlets/sockets had tripped. Nothing else has failed just the PC. I can see through the window case that a capacitor has blown of the gpu
 
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Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
A "perfect storm" is a reference to a set of events that combined makes things all the more worse in some manner.

[Just FYI: There is a book and a subsequent movie by that title about a storm off the Northeast Coast of America. About how weather events/conditions combined and what happened. Both book and movie are good.]

So what I am suggesting is that there is a serious electrical problem within your home. All may be well until some set of devices are plugged in (may or may not need to be turned on) maybe even on different circuits.

So when the electricians are checking things the configuration is likely different.

Could even go a step further: perhaps some wiring issue involving a neighbor's circuits. Likewise variable.

Your computers are likely being killed by a voltage problem (under or over). If the RCD fuse(s) for the sockets are tripped then that is the circuit that should first be looked at - again.

What is the voltage in your home? UK mains are listed as 230

https://www.leadsdirect.co.uk/knowledge-base/what-is-the-difference-between-uk-voltage-and-european-voltage/

http://coffeetime.wikidot.com/uk-eu-mains-voltage-harmonisation

Did the new dell pc come with a PSU that has a manual switch for incoming voltage? If so what was the switch set at? Many PSU's no longer have such switches and use circuitry to adjust to the incoming voltage. However if that incoming voltage is out of spec - then there will be problems.
 
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I cannot be of any specific help with your issue, but don't think you are the only one. I have never heard of anything with this type of frequency though.

I lived in an old house where the walls were plaster and lathing, wiring from the early 1900's that was inaccessible for changing without major renovations to the entire home. I found through trial and error that only certain things could be on in the house at the same time without tripping circuits. It cost me an appliance or two.

A friend of mine is currently dealing with a similar problem as you. His apartment building has a pretty strange electrical layout and shared circuits, etc. He blew up several new computers in a row. He moved over to a power conditioner and built in battery back up and is now going through those every few months. It turns out that his wiring isn't allowing enough amperage, thus current, to keep the batteries from eventually going flat. His solution thus far has been to take his battery unit to another home to charge for a few hours and then take back home.
 

Beachloveriow

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So what I am suggesting is that there is a serious electrical problem within your home. All may be well until some set of devices are plugged in (may or may not need to be turned on) maybe even on different circuits.

So when the electricians are checking things the configuration is likely different.

Could even go a step further: perhaps some wiring issue involving a neighbor's circuits. Likewise variable.
I don’t think it is this. I’m in a semi detached my neighbours electric circuit is completely separate from mine.

Your computers are likely being killed by a voltage problem (under or over). If the RCD fuse(s) for the sockets are tripped then that is the circuit that should first be looked at - again. Yes definitely the sockets that trip. But also I been thinking about what you said about audio equipment. I said no at first because I don’t have audio equipment connected to the PCs
But in the lounge we have two speakers and an amplifier that is connected to the tv. Which of course is plugged in on the same socket ring or circuit.
Can you tell me more about how audio equipment could damage a PCs? And one big question how the hell does it go through a UPS power surge protector??

What is the voltage in your home? UK mains are listed as 230
Yes it is 230 plus or minus 10 percent. The electrician says this is what he reads when he tests the sockets and some times lower as they have fitted a voltage regulator.

https://www.leadsdirect.co.uk/knowledge-base/what-is-the-difference-between-uk-voltage-and-european-voltage/

http://coffeetime.wikidot.com/uk-eu-mains-voltage-harmonisation.

Did the new dell pc come with a PSU that has a manual switch for incoming voltage? If so what was the switch set at? Many PSU's no longer have such switches and use circuitry to adjust to the incoming voltage. However if that incoming voltage is out of spec - then there will be problems.
The dell PC did not have the little switch on the PSU. I know the one you mean because I have seen it on other PCs and believe me I have extensive knowledge of a every make of pc ever built. I can clearly see through the perspective case the capacitor of the Nvidia Gtx 1060i burnt and leaning over. So this time it most likely did not damage the psu but the shock went straight to the video card.
Hi
It is not just one pc it has been several that’s why i did not list the specs.
Software normally windows 10 but apple IOS products have also failed.
Nothing is connected to the PCs except a keyboard and mouse. It happens to PCs that are connected via WiFi or Ethernet.

I never get a chance to see any error codes. Because one minute the PCs will work and next they won’t turn on.

I don’t know what a perfect storm means.
RCD is the fuseboard for the house. Each with its own ring for different things. For example cooker. Shower. Lights. Sockets.

by the way I had a dell gaming pc delivered last night. Today it has died and will not switch on. The fuses for the outlets/sockets had tripped. Nothing else has failed just the PC. I can see through the window case that a capacitor has blown of the gpu
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Beachloveriow

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Dec 26, 2013
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Hi again

A "perfect storm" is a reference to a set of events that combined makes things all the more worse in some manner.

[Just FYI: There is a book and a subsequent movie by that title about a storm off the Northeast Coast of America. About how weather events/conditions combined and what happened. Both book and movie are good.]

So what I am suggesting is that there is a serious electrical problem within your home. All may be well until some set of devices are plugged in (may or may not need to be turned on) maybe even on different circuits.

So when the electricians are checking things the configuration is likely different.

Could even go a step further: perhaps some wiring issue involving a neighbor's circuits. Likewise variable.

Your computers are likely being killed by a voltage problem (under or over). If the RCD fuse(s) for the sockets are tripped then that is the circuit that should first be looked at - again.

What is the voltage in your home? UK mains are listed as 230

https://www.leadsdirect.co.uk/knowledge-base/what-is-the-difference-between-uk-voltage-and-european-voltage/

http://coffeetime.wikidot.com/uk-eu-mains-voltage-harmonisation

Did the new dell pc come with a PSU that has a manual switch for incoming voltage? If so what was the switch set at? Many PSU's no longer have such switches and use circuitry to adjust to the incoming voltage. However if that incoming voltage is out of spec - then there will be problems.
I agree that there is a serious problem in my home. But how come the electricians can’t find it.? Not only that how is any surges getting through the surge protection?

I live in a semi detached house and my circuit are completely separate from my neighbour.


The voltage in my house is 230 plus or minus 10% probably quite stable as the electrician fitted a voltage regulator.

The dell that blew after only a few hours use did not have a switch on the PSU. I know what happened to that machine as I can see blown burnt capacitors on the NVIDIA 1060i . The GPU has blown.

You mentioned previously about audio equipment. I have been thinking about this. Although I don’t have any connected to any PCs I get. There are some speakers and an amplifier connected to a TV in the lounge. That would be on the same circuit as a PC in my room. The socket RCD is the only one that trips and there is only one circuit for sockets. The amplifier and speakers are on the same circuit.

Can you please explain more about why this might affect PCs

I’m still really puzzled how or why any surge would get through the UPS and surge protection. I have called an electrician again to ask for advice but I think they will be as puzzled as me as to why the surge protection is not protecting
 

Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
They may be new etc. but if not properly installed they may not be effective.

The tripping, as mentioned by @Mandark, is indeed a clue. And seems to be a consistent one.

If the electrician(s) just wired up the replacements the same way the old one was wired in then the end results would be the same.

I will crawl out a bit on the proverbial limb....

Ground loop. I am not familiar with your electrical codes but the concepts are the same.

FYI:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PACur_GcTJ0


https://acromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/White_Paper_Electrical_Ground_Rules_Pt1_993.pdf

(Second link: Note the paragraph at the bottom of physically numbered Page 8. Does any of that sound familiar?)

Again, sketch out your electrical system in as much detail as you can. RCD, circuits, switches, lights, outlets.

Look for any wires that are attached to water pipes, iron spikes in the ground, screwed into some sort of metal structure, etc..

Highly recommended that you just look and do not touch.

Think about where the various computers were connected when they "died". What else was on that circuit or even other circuits.

Contact different electricians. Ask if they have any experience finding ground loops. If their eyes glaze over - call someone else.
 

Beachloveriow

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The tripping might be a clue. However we have to remember that the RCD does not always trip.

When I think back to the various PCs I have had. The RCD normally trips when a component has burnt like the GPU in the recent Dell PC. I could visually see burnt capacitors.

however the previous 4 or 5 PCs failed without tripping the RCD. They just would not power on leading me to assume the PSU has failed. I could not see any visual damage.
I’m off work today so will look around the house to see if I can find a metal rod in the ground like the pic in the article.
I’m not a sparky so I would not know where to begin with a sketch of my electrics. Plus we are still in covoid lockdown so I’m guessing it will be a while before I can get one to visit.
All I know is the RCD panel has a separate fuse trip switch thingy for sockets, lights, cooker, shower, and hot water heater.
 

Beachloveriow

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Quick update
I couldn’t find a pole connected to the ground outside my house but where the electricity comes into the house I saw a box with a sticker that said “ this installation is connected to protect multi earthing” or something similar. Hard to read the sticker
It took a photo but can’t seem to upload it to this page
 
So an electrician checked out your power, it's good. You're on your own circuit. As far as you know it's grounded to Earth. Hot and neutral aren't reversed (the electrician would have caught that).

I do notice that these are all white box PC's you listed that typically have pretty crappy power supplies in them. Asus, MSI, Lenovo don't use quality PSUs because they can save money and it's not a bulletpoint that helps sell the PC (notice they always tell you what the CPU, GPU, how much RAM and how much storage because those are easily quantifiable). Dell typically uses a pretty solid PSU because they have a longer warranty than most. But I've seen some cheap ones installed in Dells as well.

That should be noted. I mean: Did you ever have a quality PSU blow up in all of these PC's you've had die on you?

The iPhone and iPad chargers are actually pretty decent quality. Maybe that's why they haven't failed.
 

Beachloveriow

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Thank you Jonny
I take your point. Could be cheap PSUs. But it beggars believe that I could have 8 cheap PSUs this year alone and over 24 last year. As I said in my OP. I’m going through about 2 devices a month on average.

Cheap PSU would that not explain blown capacitors on a GPU

Also I have had laptop fail too. Blow capacitors on the motherboards. I did have an MSI laptop that lasted 35 days last year.

I know the electrician is going to ask how is a surge getting through 3 levels of surge protection?
 
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Thank you Jonny
I take your point. Could be cheap PSUs. But it beggars believe that I could have 8 cheap PSUs this year alone and over 24 last year. As I said in my OP. I’m going through about 2 devices a month. That said I did have an MSI laptop that lasted 45 days.
However would that explain blown capacitors on a GPU
Also I have had laptop fail too. Blow capacitors on the motherboards
The biggest problem cheap PSUs cause is they damage other components.

Heck... Even a well designed PSU can damage parts if the failure is catastrophic enough.

If voltage is too low or too high or ripple is too high, it's going to damage all sorts of parts on the DC side.

Given you're seeing capacitors specifically blow and not transistors or the like, then my first guess would be really high ripple that is overheating the caps. Remember: The caps on the components are supposed to be getting regulated, filtered power. If the PSU can't do that, the component will fail.

https://passive-components.eu/ripple-current-and-its-effects-on-the-performance-of-capacitors/
 
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Beachloveriow

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The biggest problem cheap PSUs cause is they damage other components.

Heck... Even a well designed PSU can damage parts if the failure is catastrophic enough.

If voltage is too low or too high or ripple is too high, it's going to damage all sorts of parts on the DC side.

Given you're seeing capacitors specifically blow and not transistors or the like, then my first guess would be really high ripple that is overheating the caps. Remember: The caps on the components are supposed to be getting regulated, filtered power. If the PSU can't do that, the component will fail.

https://passive-components.eu/ripple-current-and-its-effects-on-the-performance-of-capacitors/
I take your point Jonny
But you are forgetting that I don’t always see blown capacitors.
Sometimes there is no visual damage. The device will simply not power on.

Thinking back to PCs I had fail on me over the years. . I think they did have good PSUs. I had several custom builds were the PSU was found to have failed when I returned it for repair. The company scratched their heads and replaced the PSU with a better one.

I also owned a Dell Alienware PC with on-site warranty. The chap came out a couple of times to replace the PSU . The last time he change the PSU, plugged it in, and boom. The components fried with a cloud of smoke and smell of burnt electric. I thought the poor chap was going to faint!!

Nonetheless, for arguments sake let’s say there is a high ripple affect. Why does my TV not blow. Why does my router not blow? Why is my iPad farming day and night and not affected by this ripple affect. I know my lights are on a different circuit but why do light bulbs in lamps not blow?

How does it get through the UPS surge protection I have on three places. 1. On the supply as it comes into my house.2. On the socket 3. On the UPS battery?

let’s for arguments sake say it could be a ripple affect. How the hell do I fix it???
 
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makkem

Distinguished
Hi
Do you live near a power station ?
I live fairly close to Drax and have problems with surges such that surge protecting power strips only last about a month until the surge protection fails,
Surge protecion in power strips does not last forever and gradually burns out depending on how many surges go through it.
It may be that you do not have the level of surge protection that you think.
You could try getting a surge protected power strip with an indicator that shows the health of the protection.
I have a couple of MasterPlug ones.
If you find that the surge protection fails really quickly ie in a few days then you could contact your electricity supplier and they can send out an engineer with the appropriate equipment to test your supply.
Most electricians do not have the equipment to test for surges and spikes on the line.
Do you have problems with other electroncs like TV,digital box(eg Sky)or dvd player?
 
How does it get through the UPS surge protection I have on three places. 1. On the supply as it comes into my house.2. On the socket 3. On the UPS battery?
You have to remember: Unless you have a very expensive ONLINE UPS, your stuff is still running on the mains UNTIL the power goes out. Even a UPS with AVR is only going to buck and boost IF there's a drop or spike in voltage.

As for your power strips: Are they surge protectors or power conditioners? Surge protectors, like your UPS, only work when they have to. Only a true power conditioner to remove EMI/RFI. It can also remove ground loops.

And when I was talking about ripple: I was talking about the PSUs killing the components. A crappy PSU doesn't commit harikari after it's done killing other parts. It just keeps killing. But then you mention the PSU itself dying... that wouldn't be from ripple as most of the ripple is produced by the PSU itself.
 

Beachloveriow

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I have one like that with the TV, the router, and the (several dead) PCs plugged in.
The RCD panel has built in surge protection too. With a light and switch to reset it if there is a surge.
The socket is also surged protected. surge Buster like the ones you get in offices with light to say it protected.

I live in a semi rural place not near any industry plants.
Surges are not the same as EMI or RFI.

I'm telling you. That UPS/Surge Protector is completely passive.

Difference between surge strip and line conditioner: https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/power-strips-power-conditioners-voltage-regulator-difference/

Difference between different UPS topologies: https://www.falconups.com/ups-comparison-online-standby-line-interactive.htm

What you have is simply a combination of the lowest common denominator of both product types. A standby UPS with a surge suppressor. Completely passive. No AVR. No EMI/RFI filtering. All it does is protects from spike from near by lightning and provides a few minutes of power via battery if power is discontinued.
 
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Beachloveriow

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Oh ok
I’m stumped at what to do about it. I guess I need to sleep on it and then try to summarise all the information I have learn from you all.
The last PC has been dispatched for refund. Something needs to change before purchasing another. I can’t keep going through laptops and PCs at the rate of 2 month.

thank you all very much.
 
I had a customer with a similar problem.
Have the ground checked. The line coming into the house as well as the grounding rod. Where I live 2 ground rods are required. So I have 4 total. 2 connected to the meter and 2 connected to the electric panel for fuses. Set 6-8ft (2-2.6 m) apart.
Costumers problem was when the wind blew just right the ground wire had a break that would lose connection and fry whatever was on.
With no ground surge protectors, APCs etc.... can not function.
 

Beachloveriow

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Just a quick update
i have contacted the utility company and asked them to check if my house is grounded properly. I’m waiting for a responses.

last night my iPad Pro 2020 failed. It was plugged in and charging . The charger that was conned to the usb 3 port on the iPad blew out of the port and the iPad will not turn on. I can also smell electric burning smell when I sniff the port.
It’s all so depressing.
anyway thank you everyone for your very helpful advice.
 

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