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Cold weather and my computer = WRRRRRRRR

Magus`Magus` Registered User regular
edited October 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
For some reason when it gets fairly cold (below 40F?) in the computer room, if I start my computer up from a cold (heh) start something inside (I'm assuming a fan?) makes a GOD AWFUL grinding/whirring noise. If I heat the room to something closer to 50-70F, it won't do that.

Any idea what it could be? As I said, I assume it's a fan, but hell if I can tell which one. Also, is this normal for computers to do? I would assume cold temps would be a good thing since computers run decently hot.

Thanks in advance!

Posts

  • MidshipmanMidshipman Registered User regular
    Cold temperatures are good for the thermal efficiency of computers (they dump heat more easily and the cooling fans don't have to work as hard). However, extreme cold is bad for lubrication of moving parts. Some fans use grease to lubricate their bearings and the grease gets more viscous (thick) at low temperatures and both provides more resistance to movement as well as being less able to find its way between the moving parts (leaving dry spots).

    Another potential issue is that cold parts contract from their design size and not all parts contract at the same rate, so you might have rubbing due to that.

    To narrow down which fan is causing you problems, you should try disconnecting all fans except for the CPU fan and then start from cold condition and see if you get the same noise. If you don't get the grinding noise, power down, add in another fan, and repeat the process until all fans are back online. If you have a video card with a cooling fan, and you don't feel comfortable disabling that fan, you can simply unplug the card for the first test (the one with only the cpu fan).

    If you identify a single fan as being problematic, you can replace it with a fan with a more robust bearing. Most computer fans are fairly easy to find replacements for, although graphics cards can be troublesome. Potentially you might need to replace the whole heatsink/fan combination to install a new fan on the graphics card.

    If you don't replace the offending fan, it will eventually burn out the bearing, but how long that takes is highly variable (how often you cold start, how long the fan grinds before heating up and settling down). If you do find that a case fan is the cause of the noise, instead of replacing it, you could just install a simple switch to allow you to easily disable the fan if you are going to start in cold conditions. You shouldn't don't need any case fans running if the room temp is below 40F).

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  • Magus`Magus` Registered User regular
    I know it's not the CPU fan since that has been replaced due to the old one not cooling very well (and this happened before and after the replacement).

    I'm thinking it's one of the case fans on either the front or the back of the computer, so I'll see what I can do about testing those.

    It'll have to wait until tomorrow, though, as it's warmed up too much today for the whirring to happen.

  • CalixtusCalixtus Registered User regular
    One of my old harddrives actually started doing that as a precursor to mechanical failure. A fan sounds more likely though, but if that turns out not to be the problem, that's another place to look.

    -This message was deviously brought to you by:
  • Kuroi OokamiKuroi Ookami Registered User regular
    My Power Supply fan does this if the computer has been turned off for a long period of time. I know it is the Power Supply because if I bang the back top of the computer, it tries to stop, or if I bang where the fan vents, it tries to stop. If I can't get it to stop quickly, I turn off the computer, give it a good couple of thumps, and try again.

    Also, when the power supply is making this grinding sound, my friend noticed that it throws very little air out, since I suppose the fans are not running at their full potential.

    I just wanted to share my story so that you do not rule out the Power Supply as being the culprit.

    3DS (Topaz) 3351-4061-2929
    Wii U Topazfalcon (yes I play MH3U, preferably with a headset/mic usage)
    Let me know if you add me on either.
  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    My Power Supply fan does this if the computer has been turned off for a long period of time. I know it is the Power Supply because if I bang the back top of the computer, it tries to stop, or if I bang where the fan vents, it tries to stop. If I can't get it to stop quickly, I turn off the computer, give it a good couple of thumps, and try again.

    Also, when the power supply is making this grinding sound, my friend noticed that it throws very little air out, since I suppose the fans are not running at their full potential.

    I just wanted to share my story so that you do not rule out the Power Supply as being the culprit.

    Do not beat up your sensitive electronics. EVER. That is an excellent way to munt your hard-drive, for starters.

    terriblepostsigpic.jpg
  • Kuroi OokamiKuroi Ookami Registered User regular
    All of the parts on my computer are on their way out the door but banging on the power supply allowed me to learn where the problem was coming from. My friend made his observation months after this had been happening. I'm just waiting for a replacement, if not just a replacement power supply. The harddrive is 80gigs and ancient so I expect it to die at any moment. All my stuff is backed up onto a laptop. I just have to make sure to turn it off before I leave the house, it wouldn't be the first power supply I've had go up in smoke. And it's not hard banging shake everything loose, it's just light banging in the power supply area.

    3DS (Topaz) 3351-4061-2929
    Wii U Topazfalcon (yes I play MH3U, preferably with a headset/mic usage)
    Let me know if you add me on either.
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