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"Why Is My Fan So Loud?"

I do a lot of tech support during my day job, handling all sorts of random problems. I've posted about various spyware removal jobs I've had to do, along with the various other problems that I've had to deal with (among others). But I always get a laugh at conversations like these.

Co-worker: My computer's really loud.
Me:: The sound is really loud or the computer itself?
Co-worker: The computer -- sounds like a jet engine.
Me:: I'll come by in a minute.
As I'm walking down to her office, I know it's probably a fan in the system that's making noise. Generally, noisy fans that weren't noisy before means one of a few thing:
  • The fan is going bad.
  • There's something hitting the blades of the fan (loose wires or something).
  • Or the system is overheating and the system's temperature sensor is kicking the speed of the fans up to cool things off (common in the Dell systems that this person had).
I hear her computer fan the minute I walk in the office, and it sounds like the thing is heating up. I open up task manager on the system, just to make sure something hasn't been stuck using 100% of the CPU power for an hour, and it's sitting at 99% idle. So I reach down under the woman's desk too look at the system to check the fan blades, and it's hot to the touch. Then I notice the space heater sitting next to her desk, turned off.
Me: Were you using this this morning? (It was below freezing this morning out here...)
Co-worker: Yeah, it was cold in the office this morning.
Me:: Where was the space heater when you were running it?
Co-worker: Underneath my desk.
Me:: Right next to your computer?
Co-worker: Yes -- was that the problem?
So basically, she was cooking her computer -- the plastic on the front of the Dell probably would've melted had it run too much longer.

So I shut the computer down and opened up the case door to get some cooler air in there and told her to not turn it on again for at least 10 minutes (or until she didn't feel any heat on the side panels, which were hot to the touch). And if she wanted to use the space heater again, she needed to run it from a different outlet, away from her desk.

Posted by Jake on 02/11/07 @ 10:41 AM
Posted in Geekdom, Jake | Permalink

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