Question System freezes after cleaning with 99% rubbing alcohol

Sep 6, 2020
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So I tried cleaning my computer with a can of compressed 99% electronics grade rubbing alcohol.
Now after cleaning, the computer is having weird issues.

At first, the computer wouldn't turn on. Power is sent to the headphones noticeable by the headphone LED.
Then hours later it turned on, but it has constant crashing. When webcamming with a friend, or playing a video game, or watching youtube videos, or worse, nothing at all, the screen freezes.

The screen freezes, I turn the monitor off then on, and I see a green screen. A few seconds after the screen freezes, the computer freezes and I stop hearing music/audio etc. But not at the same time.
It has even crashed twice completely and rebooted itself, but the biggest issue is I can no longer rely on it during gaming due to this freeze issue.

All I did was spray 99% rubbing alcohol into the power supply, around the motherboard, and the graphics card to clean some dust off. I used a clean dish cloth to wick away excess rubbing alcohol.

I don't know if my graphics card is having an issue, because it once did give me an issue like this before. The graphics card has been known to give green screens sometimes, but I fixed that issue by taking the heatsink off the graphics card and cleaning it and re-applying thermal paste to the graphics card, the issue went away entirely.
But since the computer itself also freezes, I feel like it must be a power supply issue? Or I completely destroyed my motherboard?

Do you think it's just the graphics card issues coming back with vengeance? I will buy different rubbing alcohol, and take apart the graphics card and re-apply thermal paste again hoping that fixes the problem.
What do you guys think? Do you think my graphics card failing can be causing my whole system to fail? I tried turning on the system without the graphics card and it gave a beeping sound, I did this without uninstalling the graphics car d first so do you think when the graphics card fails, the system fails? And that's why it takes a few seconds before audio goes away?
 

PassMark

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Jan 19, 2004
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99% isopropanol absorbs water fairly quickly from the atmosphere (assuming it really was 99% to start with, as 91% is more common).
Once there are some impurities it becomes conductive. I kind of doubt spraying it into the PSU will remove the dust, but it does risk shorting stuff out.

Most people either disassemble the PC to clean it, or use compressed air.

Was everything totally dry before you tried to power it back on?
 

JWNoctis

Proper
Jun 9, 2021
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Spraying any liquid into anything electronic....Sounds like a bad idea to me.

Powering up any computer presumably with liquid loose inside, even worse.

Alcohol is slightly hygroscopic. Even pure alcohol would rather rapidly collect a few percent of atmospheric water which is not nearly as volatile. This could also be conductive when mixed with impurities and contaminants - As PassMark said.

Rubbing alcohol is also great for cleaning up old thermal paste. You may have destroyed yours by drenching them in alcohol, together with the thermal pads, if there are any, over your graphic and system memory chips. Check GPU, CPU, and memory temperature under load, to confirm.
 
Sep 6, 2020
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99% isopropanol absorbs water fairly quickly from the atmosphere (assuming it really was 99% to start with, as 91% is more common).
Once there are some impurities it becomes conductive. I kind of doubt spraying it into the PSU will remove the dust, but it does risk shorting stuff out.

Most people either disassemble the PC to clean it, or use compressed air.

Was everything totally dry before you tried to power it back on?
I thought it was dry because as people say 99% rubbing alcohol evaporates almost instantly but now I'm not so sure.. how could it short stuff out if it evaporates instantly?

Spraying any liquid into anything electronic....Sounds like a bad idea to me.

Powering up any computer presumably with liquid loose inside, even worse.

Alcohol is slightly hygroscopic. Even pure alcohol would rather rapidly collect a few percent of atmospheric water which is not nearly as volatile. This could also be conductive when mixed with impurities and contaminants - As PassMark said.

Rubbing alcohol is also great for cleaning up old thermal paste. You may have destroyed yours by drenching them in alcohol, together with the thermal pads, if there are any, over your graphic and system memory chips. Check GPU, CPU, and memory temperature under load, to confirm.
The temperatures were fine but I haven't checked under load. I'll do that.

I'm thinking I may have dissolved some of the thermal paste on the gpu as I said but I didn't spray it that well so I don't know how any got under the heatsink...
Rubbing alcohol is a liquid, but unless I've been pranked I'm 99% certain that it's completely safe to use 99% for electronics. The can I used even said electronics cleaner. My friend agrees with you and thinks it was only meant to clean the outside of electronics, meaning Plastic, but that makes less sense to me.
 

jay32267

Glorious
The problem I have cleaning with a liquid spray....even if it 100% evaporates is....

Small dirt particles can migrate with liquids on surfaces....so you can actually have dirt flow to places where it will cause a short.

You don't really see this problem when using a gas.
 
Sep 6, 2020
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The problem I have cleaning with a liquid spray....even if it 100% evaporates is....

Small dirt particles can migrate with liquids on surfaces....so you can actually have dirt flow to places where it will cause a short.

You don't really see this problem when using a gas.
That's what I was thinking.. because the rubbing alcohol removed quite a bit of dust so maybe it migrated the dust too close to the component parts
 
Aug 25, 2020
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You can try these steps

  1. Remove all power supplies from the PC.
  2. Purchase a can of compressed air. Blow air into the ports and vents of your PC.
Remember :::: it should be air not a liquid can.

Hope it works
 
Sep 6, 2020
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Update:
So I took out the graphics card, lifted the heatsink, removed the thermal paste with the same rubbing alcohol and re-applied thermal paste and reseated the heatsink, and now my freezing issues seem to be a lot less frequent, however, it still has happened once.
Normally I could bring it on by putting load on the graphics card but I've tried putting load on it and no freezing has occurred.
I've also monitored the temperatures of both the CPU and GPU while putting load on it, and the hottest the GPU got was 152 farenheit and the CPU about the same.

I don't know exactly what the problem is, but infrequent freezing is still too often for my tastes. I don't know what I did when I tried to clean the card but I think something must of happened to the graphics card because there is now a difference in the frequency of freezing after reapplying thermal paste on the graphics card.....
I did clean the graphics card a bit, it was a bit messy it seemed from the strips that rest on the memory modules.
 

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