Smoke Near Your Laptop – What Every Laptop Owner Should Know

If you are a proud laptop owner and are interested in prolonging the useful lifespan of your laptop then you need to read this article carefully. The article will show you how smoke, dust or other contaminant particles can affect your laptop’s health. They may even bring your laptop to a screeching halt. By the time you finish reading you will have a better idea about why your laptop may be behaving strangely, shutting down unexpectedly, is unwilling to boot sometimes, and is overheating other times. Smoke in the air can come obviously from smoking cigarettes in the house or at your work place or from burning candles. It can also originate from nature fires, such as desert fires in the Western USA when sometimes the entire cities are covered for days by a layer of dust and smoke which eventually enters the houses as well.

The most damaging components that can be found in the air filled with smoke are microscopic smoke particles, dust, and various sticky materials. The four laptop components that are most affected by smoke and dust particles in the air are: Venting Holes in the Laptop Casing, Hard Drive Breathing Holes and Hard Drive Breathing Hole Filters, Cooling Fans, and Heat Sinks. Let’s see how the particles in the air can affect each one of them individually and how this can affect your laptop’s behavior and overall health:

Venting Holes in the Laptop Casing

If your laptop is not brand new you will probably be able to find small venting holes on the bottom of the laptop casing or on one or more of its sides. In some laptops, these holes can get completely covered by the dust coming in with the inflowing air. The dust can be smoke, or just dust particles that are picked up by the air along its path. The dust covering the holes causes is a reduced air flow inside the laptop case, higher temperatures, longer air flow paths, and faster accumulation of dust on these air paths. When you see filters on the outside of the laptop casing covered with dust, make sure you pick out the dust and allow your laptop to breathe more fully. Also, clean the desk on which laptop is sitting most of the time so the dust is not in the path of the inflowing air.

Hard Drive Breathing Holes

Contrary to a popular belief, laptop hard drives are not sealed off completely. They have breathing holes as well that provide the normal air pressure needed for the operation of the magnetic readout mechanism of the hard disks inside.

Small filters are located on these breathing holes. If smoke or the smallest dust particles can reach the breathing hole, they can enter the hard drive and cause a downgrade in the hard drive performance. When you open the laptop case and you see these breathing holes covered with dust, it is a good idea to simply wipe the dust off.

Cooling Fans

Cooling fans are usually positioned besides the central processing unit (CPU) and the heat sinks attached to the CPU. When they are faced with smoke, dust, and sticky particles, two things can happen. First, the fan blades start accumulating dust and smoke and, worse, sticky components in dust or smoke can stick to the moving parts of fans, such as ball bearings, which causes a louder, whining noise from the fans and can slow the fans down or completely prevent them from starting and operating. When the fans slow down or completely stop, your laptop CPU will overheat and in the best case scenario cause automatic shutdowns of the laptop after 10-30 minutes or so. In the worst case scenario, the CPU could get severely damaged. When you see dust on the fans, you can wipe it off. When you hear the fans starting to whine, it is time to think about replacing them.

Heat Sinks

Heat sinks are large, metallic objects shaped as hedgehogs. The shape maximizes the surface which enables effective heat transfer from the CPU to the heat sink and on into the air flowing by. The large surface of the heat sinks on the other hand, attracts dust, smoke and sticky particles in the air. When a heat sink is covered with dust, its effectiveness diminishes due to dust both acting as a thermal insulator and reducing the air flow. The ineffectiveness of the heat sink will cause overheating of the CPU and will cause the fans to work harder than they need to.

So there you have it. You can see how smoke and dust can affect your laptop and interfere with hard drives, fans, and heat sinks, therefore directly and indirectly reducing performance of the hard drive and the central processing unit. So next time you are in the area with fires, take good care of yourself but also of your laptop. Protect it from the dust and smoke and you will prolong its useful life expectancy.

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