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Question Spilled Coffee Into Tower, Troubleshooting Tips

May 9, 2020
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I was an idiot and spilled coffee into my first build ever. PC was up and running for about two months beforehand.

I took it apart wiped everything off, used a little isopropyl on the worst spots and waited two days before reassembling. Originally everything would turn on, motherboard lights, fans would spin for about 10 seconds, then the fans/cooler would shut off and only the motherboard lights would remain on.

It's been like this for months, not having the knowledge to troubleshoot or cash to replace parts was a big bummer.

Today I decided to tinker a little more and have made some progress, I think. I removed the RAM and video card made sure everything was seated right, and installed the video card into another PCIE slot.

Now when powered, the fans/cooler/graphics card all power on and there is no forced shutoff. It seems to be working just fine, with the exception that I have no video signal. I've tried both DVI and HDMI from both my motherboard and the card itself, but nothing. I don't think my CPU has graphics capabilities (2700x), but I didn't know what else to try.

Where should I go from here? If I had spare parts laying around, I feel like I could sus out the problem, but as I said this is my first build.
 
Should have gone with a Coffee Lake processor ...is what I might say if I were being unhelpful. >_>

About how much coffee was spilled, and was the system running at the time? Did it enter through vents on the top of the case? If so, I would expect the graphics card might have been hit more than anything. I agree that knowing your system's full list of components, including the case, could help.

Did you disconnect all of the components during the cleaning process, to make sure there was nothing in their connectors? Depending on the amount of Coffee and where it went, they might potentially need a more thorough cleaning than just "a little isopropyl on the worst spots", assuming they weren't otherwise damaged.

The computer won't boot without RAM installed, so you'll need at least one stick of that in place. And of course, you will need a functional graphics card (and you will want your monitor plugged directly into that). Dismantling and reassembling the system outside of its case with just the minimum components plugged in might help with troubleshooting, and with seeing whether there might still be coffee residue on anything.
 

The_Prophecy

Splendid
Moderator
Should have gone with a Coffee Lake processor ...is what I might say if I were being unhelpful. >_>

About how much coffee was spilled, and was the system running at the time? Did it enter through vents on the top of the case? If so, I would expect the graphics card might have been hit more than anything. I agree that knowing your system's full list of components, including the case, could help.

Did you disconnect all of the components during the cleaning process, to make sure there was nothing in their connectors? Depending on the amount of Coffee and where it went, they might potentially need a more thorough cleaning than just "a little isopropyl on the worst spots", assuming they weren't otherwise damaged.

The computer won't boot without RAM installed, so you'll need at least one stick of that in place. And of course, you will need a functional graphics card (and you will want your monitor plugged directly into that). Dismantling and reassembling the system outside of its case with just the minimum components plugged in might help with troubleshooting, and with seeing whether there might still be coffee residue on anything.
Oh the tech puns.... Coffee Lake lol

I'd say you've hit the nail on the head here. Liquid spills (especially with things like coffee) can be a real pain to clean up, and often just getting the worst spots isn't good enough.

When cleaning the components, you'll need to be more thorough, OP. And when you say isopropyl, I assume you mean you have the 99% variety? 70% with the additional water content doesn't tend to be effective enough, at least in my experience.
 
May 9, 2020
9
2
15
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Should have gone with a Coffee Lake processor ...is what I might say if I were being unhelpful. >_>

About how much coffee was spilled, and was the system running at the time? Did it enter through vents on the top of the case? If so, I would expect the graphics card might have been hit more than anything. I agree that knowing your system's full list of components, including the case, could help.

Did you disconnect all of the components during the cleaning process, to make sure there was nothing in their connectors? Depending on the amount of Coffee and where it went, they might potentially need a more thorough cleaning than just "a little isopropyl on the worst spots", assuming they weren't otherwise damaged.

The computer won't boot without RAM installed, so you'll need at least one stick of that in place. And of course, you will need a functional graphics card (and you will want your monitor plugged directly into that). Dismantling and reassembling the system outside of its case with just the minimum components plugged in might help with troubleshooting, and with seeing whether there might still be coffee residue on anything.
Parts List Here: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/GsMJb8

It was a fair bit of coffee, easiest descriptor I can use is about a mouthful through the top vent. The graphics card definitely got hit, there was a bit of a pool on the top shield.

I disconnected mostly everything except for the case fans. RAM was installed this morning before testing. I'll be pulling everything out tonight to check for additional coffee residue.

Thanks.
 
May 9, 2020
9
2
15
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Oh the tech puns.... Coffee Lake lol

I'd say you've hit the nail on the head here. Liquid spills (especially with things like coffee) can be a real pain to clean up, and often just getting the worst spots isn't good enough.

When cleaning the components, you'll need to be more thorough, OP. And when you say isopropyl, I assume you mean you have the 99% variety? 70% with the additional water content doesn't tend to be effective enough, at least in my experience.
I'm using 91%, is that good enough, or should I make a trip out? Sounds like next steps would be to disassemble everything, checking for additional residue, and cleaning all pins and connectors?
 

The_Prophecy

Splendid
Moderator
If 91 is the best you have, go with that. I don't want to be encouraging trips out that aren't absolutely necessary with the pandemic still ongoing, especially not if you're someone that is at higher risk of severe symptoms or complications.

And yes, next step is a more thorough cleaning of basically every component.
 
The graphics card definitely got hit, there was a bit of a pool on the top shield.
The biggest concern I would have would be over the graphics card, but it looks like that card's backplate provides pretty good coverage of the circuit board. Some may have still dripped around, but most was likely kept off of it, which might have increased its chances of survival.

If coffee did leak onto the graphics card's circuit board, you might want to remove the card's shroud and possibly the cooler to get to it, but that process can vary from one card to the next.

Did you install your PSU with the fan facing up or down? I think it can go either way in that case, though obviously having it face down would have provided much better protection against coffee getting into it.

One way to help determine whether it might be a graphics card issue would be to install another card. If you don't have access to one, it might be worth looking for a cheap low-end card, perhaps on the used market, as a temporary replacement.

Also, make sure you reinstalled the PCIe power cables after reinstalling the card, and that everything is firmly clicked into place. And of course, that your monitor is plugged directly into a port on the graphics card, rather than into one on the motherboard, as those won't be functional without integrated graphics.
 
May 9, 2020
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It was shield side up, which seemed to take the brunt of it. I've got some free time this evening, so I'm going to be doing a full cleaning.

Quick question, with my water cooler would you assume that my CPU remained dry or should I be removing the cooler and cleaning the CPU? If so should I clean the actual pins?
 
May 9, 2020
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Alright, so I disassembled and cleaned everything. I set everything up outside of the case and still a no go. Everything powers, GPU fans are blowing, but still no picture.

I tried running one dim of RAM in case any of the slots were still gummed up. I tried multiple PCIE slots for the GPU, but still a no go.

Is it safe to assume that something is dead at this point? Thinking of ordering a new GPU and motherboard as my next step.
 

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