Solved! Before you take your computer apart....

I have seen many threads that go something like this: "I was having problem X on my laptop. I took it apart and did Y and Z and now it won't boot up.....". If you are not aware of the hazards of ESD damage, you need to educate yourself. Without proper precautions, you risk damage to the internal components. I worked many years designing complex military gear and we were always hammered on to be ESD aware. All the labs and production areas had grounded work stations, conductive floors!, grounded soldering irons, etc. Special drinking containers were mandated. This was expensive to implement. The commercial side of my company did the same, so it was not just some dumb "Mil Standard". My home workbench is grounded and I wear a wrist strap when working. The problem is not so much that a component will blow right away (that is immediately obvious and fixable) but there is an issues of latent defects induced by ESD that show up later. ESD internal device protection has improved over the years, but is still a concern. There are many articles on the internet discussing the issue.

I have seen techs is repair shops totally ignoring ESD protection and many many "how-to's" on youtube doing the same. Precautions are pretty simple. I admit that sometime I cheat and use the kitchen table if my workbench is cluttered, but here's what I do:
  • I roll out a piece of aluminum foil large enough for the equipment plus some room to lay down parts.
  • I sit still and don't wiggle around in the chair (so I don't build up as much charge).
  • As soon as the equipment is open, I touch a ground point inside. How you find that is beyond the scope of this, but a likely ground is any large areas of printed circuit or metal shields. At the same time, I touch the foil with my other hand. I do this again whenever I move around. Note--this is not really "grounding" anything but it gets you and the equipment at the same potential (voltage).
  • Anything I take out gets laid down on the foil.
  • If I'm working with RAM, I never touch anything but the edges of the card. Same for any other boards or components.
  • Using a vacuum to remove dust is a really bad idea. Most brushes are superb static generators. Use a compressed air can and blow the dust into the vacuum held near by. You can get away with the vacuum on things like blank cover, detached coolers/fans but nothing with electronic components (fans should be OK). Just make sure you touch the ground point and the thing you just vacuumed when you finish.
I've taken lots of laptops apart and they always work when I put them back together. I'm just a hobbyist now, but ESD precautions were beat into many after 40 years in industry. I have many horror stories. Many component failures went to failure analysis where they were xray'd or viewed with an electron microscope. ESD was a frequent cause of failure even with all our precautions.

Other views??
 
Reactions: OhGod
I found a few great articles regarding ESD precautions. I would advise using an anti-static mat and grounding it directly if you plan to do several repair jobs. If you have doubts about the conductivity of the surface you are working on, lay down a layer of aluminum foil.

https://www.wikihow.com/Ground-Yourself-to-Avoid-Destroying-a-Computer-with-Electrostatic-Discharge

https://www.computerhope.com/esd.htm

There are many others. Search on ESD Laptop if you are skeptical. You will probably get by several times not taking precautions, but you will eventually get bitten.
 

OhGod

Commendable
Feb 17, 2020
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Funny you mention not to use a vacuum as I just posted a related question. Although I had no intention of using the vacuum brush (mostly because I have no idea where it might be) and rather was going to opt for the thinner plastic nozzle, I was thinking of using an old toothbrush or something. SOOO, this is GOOD information. Thanks!

I hardly, if ever, use compressed air as I think all it does is push dirt and debris further into what you are trying to clean. Not sure if I should start doing so, as I just opened the one I'm having problems with it and it’s super dusty and dirty.
 
Last edited:

HoosierNewman

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Apr 18, 2014
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Remove the CPU heatsink, blow out the dust from the fins of the entryway. Then with a dampened paper towel - (acetone or nail polish remover) wipe off the ceramic portion of the CPU/GPU. Check the silicon pad on the bottom side of the heatsink (if bad replace)

Usually the CPU/GPU thermal protection shutdown will send the laptop in a no display mode- (this keeps it from burning up entirely). In many cases after clearing heatsink and new compound, you can reset the BIOS. - Remove Battery, hold down power button for 10 sec. release. Then hold down the button while connecting the PS.

That may be all that is needed. Otherwise you'd have to have a senior level tech to fix it, or a junior level to replace the board.

IMPORTANT NOTE: do not allow acetone to touch any plastic. If using nail polish remover to remove the dry heat sink compound. Wipe dry lightly afterward with dry paper towel.

Acetone evaporates entirely, Nail polish remover evaporates and leave moisture/water residue that needs to be wiped away.
 
Funny you mention not to use a vacuum as I just posted a related question. Although I had no intention of using the vacuum brush (mostly because I have no idea where it might be) and rather was going to opt for the thinner plastic nozzle, I was thinking of using an old toothbrush or something. SOOO, this is GOOD information. Thanks!

I hardly, if ever, use compressed air as I think all it does is push dirt and debris further into what you are trying to clean. Not sure if I should start doing so, as I just opened the one I'm having problems with it and it’s super dusty and dirty.
Just keep the vacuum plastic parts and brush bristles away from any pieces of the laptop. When you are done, touch the "ground" in the laptop to equalize yourself again. They do make anti-static brushes which means they are a little bit conductive. I see these on Amazon. I plan to buy some and test them.

I agree the air can makes a mess but holding the vacuum nearby helps a lot. I have a shop vac that will suck the hair off your head if you are not careful!
 
I found a few great articles regarding ESD precautions. I would advise using an anti-static mat and grounding it directly if you plan to do several repair jobs. If you have doubts about the conductivity of the surface you are working on, lay down a layer of aluminum foil.

https://www.wikihow.com/Ground-Yourself-to-Avoid-Destroying-a-Computer-with-Electrostatic-Discharge

https://www.computerhope.com/esd.htm

There are many others. Search on ESD Laptop if you are skeptical. You will probably get by several times not taking precautions, but you will eventually get bitten.
 
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