Is it possible for radiator fans to blow water into the case and damage the components?

Jul 14, 2018
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I know, the question sounds a little silly.

I accidentally got some water on the exterior of the front of the case, where I installed my radiator as intake. My pc was turned off at the time. Around a minute later, I turned it on, and the fans were blowing the hardest and loudest I've ever heard. The system wouldn't boot (for the first time after assembling it 3 months ago) and I had to hold the power button for 2-3 seconds to force it to turn off. I turned my pc back on again, and it booted normally.

I noticed my pc made (and is still making) some "squealing" noise (probably not the correct word here), but that's probably how it's always been as I never played close attention. Can't tell exactly where as well-

I ran Prime95 for a few hours, but don't know if that's a good way to test if there's any issue with the system.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
First rule of computers, no liquids, no drinks and no food anywhere near them. They are not cup holders, or end tables, or furniture. LOL. Getting any of those things within three feet of your tower is only going to eventually lead to tears sooner or later. People get mad when I tell them to get their drink away from my stuff, but at the end of the day, I'd rather clean up a spill on my carpet than out of my computer.

How MUCH water did you get on the front of it?
 
Jul 14, 2018
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I don't think it was that much. I "semi-soaked" a paper towel with a few drops of water to scrape off the bit of thermal paste I got onto the front of the case. (I guess it was incorrect to say it was accidental)

And yeah you're absolutely right. I just forgot I installed the fan as intake at the front, but I'll definitely make sure to keep any liquid far away from my pc in the future.
 
As intake, the fan motor is protected by the fan itself, it's next to impossible to get enough moisture inside a fan housing to affect the bearings unless you seriously soak everything. The water won't flow backwards into the fan that's blowing the liquid away from itself.
That said, dirt is a whole different beast. It will collect on blades, motor supports, fan housing etc and even if the fan looks dirt free, it might not be, just free of any really visible accumulation. Add moisture, and you can change the balance of the fan as that dirt is washed to the edge of the blades, gets chunks on the housing and that can and does impact the bearings and can cause a fan to 'squeal' of the fan is off kilter or subjected to resistance where the motor is spinning faster than the blades.

I'd pull the fans and thoroughly clean them, physically making sure they spin easily with little effort. Any fan with bearing resistance will be obvious.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Eh, I'd just wipe the blades down to be sure there is no accumulation on either side of the blade and might as well hit the housing while you're at it. From what you've described I seriously doubt there has been anything affected by it.

If you disconnected power to the system by flipping the switch on the PSU or pulling the cord from the wall, then the BIOS is going to go through a slightly different process than normal once power is restored and may even turn off and on a few times while it re-trains the memory depending on how your bios is configured. As long as it's working normally now, I wouldn't worry about it anymore other than to be more careful in the future.

Also, ANYTIME you are cleaning PC parts, especially thermal paste, but other stuff too, always use isopropyl alcohol. 90% Isopropyl alcohol, because it dries quickly, leaves no residue behind and cuts through a lot of thermal pastes and other incidental gunk much better than water could ever do. Anytime you are working with thermal paste, have isopropyl alcohol on hand. It's cheap and it's not going to damage anything even if you spill it on something as it will dry out very quickly.
 
Jul 14, 2018
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Thanks! I'll keep all of this in mind.
 

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