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latvija



Joined: Feb 02, 2005
Posts: 3



PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 6:08 am    Post subject: Smoke damage

Dell Dimension 4400, WD 120GB, XP, P4. 640 RAM

Smoke from a fire has damaged my hard drive. I need to back up my data and buy another drive. The pc is 4 years old. The WD hard drive is 2 years old. Should I buy another 120GB or get a bigger IDE drive? My insurance company says that they consider the useful life of a pc to be 6 years.

I don't know if this is related to the smoke damage, but since the fire my modem is dropping connections and the handshake takes forever.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 2:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

A hard drive is sealed! Only the controller card mounted on the bottom of it is open to the elments. That can be removed and cleaned with alcohol to remove any smoke particles.

Modems are so cheap today ($10 or less) that just replacing it would probably be the best bet there.

Again, the ram can be washed with alcohol too, to remove any smoke from it. RAM is very sensitive to anything getting in between the little legs on the chips.

Just be sure to let the parts air dry for several hours or overnight before reinstalling in the computer.

I got all the files off of an IBM hard drive years ago after the computer had gone through a terrible fire that literally melted the monitor down over the desktop case.

Good Luck to ya,
Shadow Cool
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patio



Joined: Feb 03, 2004
Posts: 5596



PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

In regards to the modem that might be a phone wiring problem...check around.

patio. Cool
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goretsky



Joined: Dec 07, 2002
Posts: 9835

Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 5:52 am    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

Hello,

It is very likely the hard disk drive was damaged by the microscopic smoke particles which were released as a result of the fire. Smoke particles can be much smaller in diameter then the width of a human hair and can float around in the air for hours or perhaps even days after a fire before settling on a surface (possilbly after being drawn into a computer chassis by one of the cooling fans). Smoke particles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes ranging from thread-like particles and corkscrew shapes to particles which look like miniature boulders or spiky balls, like on a knight's mace. Regardless of the shape or source of the particular matter, you don't want it inside your computer.

There are a number of ways in which smoke particles can damage electronics like a hard disk drive:


  • Particles landing on the exposed electronics can bridge the electrical connections and create short circuits. Additionally, they can react with the metal and plastic components (which often have trace amounts of chemicals on them left over from manufacturing) and cause further damage through corrosion.
  • A hard disk drive resembles a record player in some respects: It consists of a series of platters mounted on a spindle attached to a a high-speed motor. However, unlike a record play which spins at 33 RPMs, current production hard disk drives spin at speeds of 4,200 to 15,000 RPMs, depending upon the brand and model. If particulate matter were to make its way into hard disk drive's motor, the results would probably be like throwing sand grains into a jet turbine: One or two probably won't cause much damage other than shorten the life, but enough will cause it to stop rotating smoothly and perhaps even seize up.
  • Above and below the platters inside of the hard disk drive, tiny phonograph arm-like devices float over the top and bottom sides of the platters, using powerful magnets on a "read-write head" to read and write magnetic signals into the platters. The distance between the read-write head and the surface of the platters is typically about three (3) to seven (7) nanometers, compared with 200 nanometers for the average smoke particle and 8,000 nanometers for the average human hair (that is, assuming I'm doing my metric conversions correctly). Read-write heads take advantage of the Bernoulli Effect to fly over the platters, just like a hovercraft floats on a cushion of air. But in order for this to work, the air pressure inside the hard disk drive has to equalize with the outside pressure so enough lift can be generated to allow the read-write heads to fly. As a result, hard disk drives have one or more filters like surgical masks--only several orders of magnitude finer--to allow air in and out of the hard disk drive. If smoke particles or other contaminants were to ingress through these filters, it would be like an airplane flying at Mach speeds just six inches over a field of mowed grass impacting with a car-sized boulder. It would bounce, skip and possibly come into contact with the surface of the rapidly spinning platter, causing what is referred to as a head crash. This is, by the way, why hard disk drives are rated up to certain altitudes (typically 10,000 feet for retail hard disk drives). Above that altitude the air pressure isn't high enough to keep the heads off the platters.

None of these scenarios are very good and do not bode well for the long-term survivability of the hard disk drive or the data which is stored inside it.

I would strongly suggest removing the hard disk drive from the computer and contacting a commercial data recovery service to get your data files off the hard disk drive before it fails. Your insurance company can probably recommend someone.

As for the computer, I would suggest purchasing a replacement yourself. The cost of cleaning it is likely to be much more than replacing it yourself--you may, in fact, be able to buy a computer which exceeds the current model's performance for just a few hundred dollars. Doing so may also help keep your premium from rising.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

Well I think it depends on how much data you use. Was your old 120 GB drive nearly full or was there loads of space on it. There's no need to get a massive drive if you're never going to use all the space.

Plus drives should be cheaper than when you last bought that one from your PC so you should be able to get the same from fairly cheap.

Mark
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patio



Joined: Feb 03, 2004
Posts: 5596



PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 2:31 am    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

Since he hasn't returned i think were safe to assume the fire is out...

patio. Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 1:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

It's obvious to me that most people have NO idea how a logic board is manufactured. I used to build them so I DO know.

Folks are squeemish about washing a controller card, vid card or ram stick.
What they don't seem to realize is that washing is the last step in the process of making a printed circuit board.

During the manufacturing process all sorts of little schmutz gets on those boards. Washing revoves all the schmutz and leaves the board squeeky clean and functioning properly.

I regularly wash ram sticks and vid cards (concentrating on the vid ram) to eliminate problems.

Today I pick up a cell phone that was dropped in a swimming pool.
It will be dissassembled and 'washed', rinsed in Denatured Alcohol and will most likely function properly once completely dried and reassembled.
The owner knows me well and knows too that I regularly wash electronics to revive them. I have no doubt that the process will be a success. Idea

Cheers Exclamation
Shadow Cool
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Werebo



Joined: Aug 09, 2003
Posts: 4078

Location: SE London, UK...

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

After watching a TV program several months ago (The Gadget Show), the folks there attempted the same experiment with various battery-operated electrical goods, from 70's transistor radios through to the latest mobile phones, cameras and iPods...

They dropped the items into a bucket of water, then left them for 5 minutes before removing. The presenter then removed the batteries and opened/removed the cases as far as possible.

24 hours under a 60W 'Angle-Poise' desk lamp dried them out wonderfully, although an 'airing' cupboard or anywhere that gets a warm dry air-flow through it will do, and when switched on again - after re-assembly, everything worked fine except the iPod which was completely dead...

But then, whenever I pick up an old 'vinyl' album from my local market, the first thing I do is to wash it with warm water and liquid soap...
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brat



Joined: Jun 05, 2003
Posts: 2325



PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 7:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

whenever I pick up an old 'vinyl' album

What is a old 'vinyl' album ????
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Werebo



Joined: Aug 09, 2003
Posts: 4078

Location: SE London, UK...

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 8:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

brat wrote:
whenever I pick up an old 'vinyl' album

What is a old 'vinyl' album ????

What music used to be sold on before CD's Laughing.... Flat 12" discs of vinyl that revolved at 33 1/3 RPM.... THEM things Wink....

I stil buy 'em when I see any bands I like Cool ...
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brat



Joined: Jun 05, 2003
Posts: 2325



PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 11:31 am    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

WereBo wrote:
brat wrote:
whenever I pick up an old 'vinyl' album

What is a old 'vinyl' album ????

What music used to be sold on before CD's Laughing.... Flat 12" discs of vinyl that revolved at 33 1/3 RPM.... THEM things Wink....

I stil buy 'em when I see any bands I like Cool ...


I still have some 33 1/3, 45s, i need a turn table with headphone plug in so i can put them on CDs.

At one time i had some 78s that were 1/4 inch thick, i think my EX kept them.

All my cassettes are on CDs. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

When making a tape or CD from "vinyl" its a good idea to wash the old 'record' with something like a dishwashing detergent and a soft brush and then rinse well and play it "Wet". This greatly reduces the hiss, pop and other noise that developes on 'records' over the years.

I still have many 'records' but currently NO player.

I hope to get one someday and copy all my vinyl to CD's.

Cheers!
Shadow Cool
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Werebo



Joined: Aug 09, 2003
Posts: 4078

Location: SE London, UK...

PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

TheShadow wrote:
When making a tape or CD from "vinyl" its a good idea to wash the old 'record' with something like a dishwashing detergent and a soft brush and then rinse well and play it "Wet". This greatly reduces the hiss, pop and other noise that developes on 'records' over the years.

Cheers!
Shadow Cool

And the stylus cleans any remaining muck out of the groove while playing, as well Wink....
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micker377



Joined: May 27, 2005
Posts: 1059



PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2006 6:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

I have a program called "Music CD Recorder" by Data Becker. The difference is that this one goes from the output (speakers) of the stereo player to your audio card. No pre-amp interface to worry about. Now, if I can just get my turntable to work right (new ones are getting expensive!), I can start copying.
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jacobso1@scarlet.be



Joined: Nov 23, 2005
Posts: 20



PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

hi,

i would not wash electronic boards with water. Water is not pure but contains mineral salts. when water goes away, those salts remain and can build bridges (read short circuits or resistive circuits). this can make your circuits useless. cleaning that can be difficult mostly with SMD technologies where circuits have little space between components 'legs'.

alcohol is your friend here with a q-tip and a toothbrush. NO, not a 23 years old single malt, but a denatured alcohol.
(feel free to snail-mail me the useless single malted)

regards
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Werebo



Joined: Aug 09, 2003
Posts: 4078

Location: SE London, UK...

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

jacobso1@scarlet.be wrote:
hi,

i would not wash electronic boards with water. Water is not pure but contains mineral salts. when water goes away, those salts remain and can build bridges (read short circuits or resistive circuits). this can make your circuits useless. cleaning that can be difficult mostly with SMD technologies where circuits have little space between components 'legs'.

alcohol is your friend here with a q-tip and a toothbrush. NO, not a 23 years old single malt, but a denatured alcohol.
(feel free to snail-mail me the useless single malted)

regards

Very true words there Wink ...
The point of the TV experiment though, was to demonstrate that 'worst-case scanarios' aren't always the worst case Laughing...

Water-soggy' equipment can be dried by giving a good shake (if possible) and then spraying or wiping with (denatured) alcohol, or if none is available, de-ionised (distilled) water (as used to top-up car batteries). De-ionised water is pure, no salts, minerals, artificial flavourings, sweeteners or colouring added Wink...
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Sam28



Joined: Mar 05, 2007
Posts: 1



PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:48 pm    Post subject: Smoked TV and DVD player [Login to view extended thread Info.]

Hi guys,
We had a fire in our residence. my laptop works fine. I was too worried I turned it on ASAP to see if it works. I have never tried the TV and the built in DVD player. is it safe to use it without cleaning? if I open the cover and clean it with a brush (alcohol) is it enough, or I need to follow certain procedures?
Thanks for the help.
Sam
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:13 am    Post subject: Re: Smoked TV and DVD player [Login to view extended thread Info.]

Closed units like DVD players probably won't be adversely affected by smoke. Open it up and check it out. If its not too bad, leave it alone.

I once saved all the data off of an IBM AT hard drive in a desktop case that had the monitor actually melted down over it. I cleaned up the HD and mounted it in another system and was able to recover all the data.

I washed that HD controller card in soap and water, then Alcohol, before drying it out and returning it to the hard drive.

It's amazing sometimes what you can do with a little "Soap and Water Salve".

Cheers!
Shadow Cool
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Werebo



Joined: Aug 09, 2003
Posts: 4078

Location: SE London, UK...

PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:32 am    Post subject: [Login to view extended thread Info.]

For the above posts about aquiring a record deck/turntable to transfer records to MP3's, we have these in the UK now. I'm sure they're available in the US too.

USB Turntable.
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goretsky



Joined: Dec 07, 2002
Posts: 9835

Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 6:42 am    Post subject: Re: Smoke damage [Login to view extended thread Info.]

Hello,

If you are comfortable doing so, you may wish to remove all user-serviceable components from the notebook computer's chassis such as drive modules, memory, batteries and any other devices, then disassemble the computer and clean the components with a compressed air and a soft brush that will not generate static. Also eject the optical disc drive's tray and clean the laser mechanism.

While the notebook computer may be fine now, it is possible that smoke particles entered into hard disk drive mechanism through the tiny air filtration holes on it. If that did occur, then the hard disk drive's useful life might be shortened. I would suggest you back up any valuable data from the hard disk drive immediately and continue to make periodic backups. Of course, it is a good idea t back up valuable data frequently, even when the hardware is not suspect.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky
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