What happens when you use your laptop on a bed

A new customer asked for help with his laptop which was giving the following warning: A problem with the cooling system has been detected. Please turn off the computer immediately, and return it for service. I suspected a blocked or failed cooling fan and gave an estimate of the cost of repair, and the customer agreed to go ahead.



The inside of the cooling fan intake vent

Laptops usually rely on a fan for essential cooling. The fan usually sucks in air from a vent on the bottom of the laptop (as shown) and blows it through a cooling ‘radiator’ and out the lap top, in the case through a vent on the side.




Must have been bought refurbish from another company - I would not use masking tapeThis picture shows the inside of the laptop after removing the keyboard and palmrest. In the centre is the blue motherboard (main circuit board). On the other side of the motherboard, under the H-shape part, is the CPU/Processor. As the processor heats up, the heat is dissipated into the flat copper rod on the left which in turn is connected to the ‘radiator’ next to the fan. 


Dust bunnies living in the fanThis picture shows the fan. To the left of it is the radiator-type device which is connected to the copper pipe. As the processor and rod heat up, the fan sucks air in from the bottom of the laptop (you can see the vents through the fan), blows it through the radiator (cooling it) and out the black plastic vents in the side of the laptop. This takes the heat from the processor and out of the laptop.


Dust bunny in the fan housing, and the radiator ventsIn this case, the laptop had sucked in dust over the years which had entered the fan and prevented the fan from turning. Every time the laptop starts it tests the fan, and if it isn’t turning it gives the warning shown. Without solving the problem, the laptop CPU overheats.

Usually the laptop will shut down power if temperatures get dangerously hot, but often the heat can damage the processor and lead it (or other components) to fail. On most laptops, a failed CPU would cost more to properly replace than is cost effective.

Fan removed for cleaningThe solution is to disassemble the laptop and carefully remove the dust, clean it, and reassemble it. This is a big job and should only be undertaken by an experienced and competent professional.




Keyboard afterHaving carefully dusted out and cleaned the internals, I also cleaned the case and keyboard and put the laptop back together again. Running a full-screen YouTube video for over an hour was enough to fully test the cooling system.

It’s easier to complete the type of work on desktop PCs because there’s more room inside to get to the fans. It’s a quick and simple job with the correct experience and specialist dust blowers.

If your laptop or desktop fan is sounds like it’s on full blast all the time it could be that your vents are becoming blocked. Do not blow into suck out of the laptop to clear it. Blowing might force the dust further in and risk damaging the laptop. Any forced airflow could spin the internal fans and induce a voltage which could damage the laptop (or desktop) components. In other words, if you spin the fan it acts like a tiny generator and generates electricity that can flow into your laptop and damage it. Call in a professional!

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Thanks for reading!


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