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Old Nov 7, 2012, 06:50 PM   #1
MythicFrost
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First time cleaning Mac Pro with compressed air, any advice?

Hey,

I've got a can of compressed air and I want to clean out my Mac Pro. Is this safe to do? From what I've read so far I should only do it in short bursts, right? What exactly do I need to spray with it

Any advice?

Thanks!
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 07:10 PM   #2
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Not sure what you mean by what do I need to spray with it. You don't spray it with anything, just the compressed air into areas like the heat sinks over your CPU(s), the fans, even inside the GPU. I've done this a few times with a real air compressor on a relatively low intesity, probably higher than what would come out of an air can and haven't had any problems. Just DON'T turn the can upside down when you spray
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 07:16 PM   #3
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Turn OFF the computer before you do it. I blew mine out a few weeks ago and she was mighty dirty. The CPU tray comes out so it may be worthwhile to take the tray and clean out the heatsinks on the it instead of blowing the dust back into the case.
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 07:29 PM   #4
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A vacume cleaner works well, too. Gets rid of dust instead of simply redistributing it in your Mac or workspace. Compressed air and a vacume work nicely in tandem.
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 07:33 PM   #5
The-Pro
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Definitly take out the cpu tray and clean that extra.
I took mine out 3 weeks ago, the dust that came out the back of the heatsinks was incredible. If I wouldnt have taken the tray out that would all have landed in the case. Spray between the RAM sticks aswell and into the gap between bottom of heatsink and the cuircuit board (under the heatsink), dust settled there a lot on mine. be careful you dont get dust into the the power and data connections on the back. If you do the CPU tray first then re install it before doing the rest of the mac pro as you dont want dust pieces catching inbetween the power and data pins, for the cpus and ram, on the main logic board.
Also remove the optical drive sled, and blow air through the power supply.
Dont forget to the clean the fans, you dont want them to hurl a bunch of dust onto the freshly cleaned components do you

DPUser suggested vacuum cleaner, NO!! Dont use a vacuum cleaner, static electricity is given off that can destroy components.
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 07:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPUser View Post
A vacume cleaner works well, too. Gets rid of dust instead of simply redistributing it in your Mac or workspace. Compressed air and a vacume work nicely in tandem.
Not sure about yours, but my vacuum cleaner manual warns that it generates static electricity and not to use it near flammable vapors. My vacuum cleaner does not have a third prong in its plug, so I assume it's not grounded.

Not that there are flammable vapors in your MP, but it's the static electricity I'd worry about.
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 08:01 PM   #7
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I just use my vacuum to suck up the dust in the air that gets spit up from using the compressed air. Not using the vacuum directly inside the machine.
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 10:30 PM   #8
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Compressed air is safe to use on electronics, as long as you keep the canister moderately upright when you're blasting dust away. If you invert the can or tip it over too much, you'll actually land up spraying the liquid form of compressed air- which freezes on contact and can destroy electrical components.

Also, a lot of people are saying they use vacuum cleaners in combination with compressed air. This is a remarkably stupid thing to do. Compressed air is not really "compressed air" (that is, the stuff you breathe)- it's actually a commercial refrigerant, specifically R152A.

R152A is FLAMMABLE. It will happily ignite in the presence of oxygen and an open flame or spark at volumes as low as 3.9% in air and as high as 16.9%. If you suck this stuff up with your vacuum cleaner, you run the risk of creating an explosion- don't laugh- I've seen a vacuum cleaner burst into flames just by sucking in evaporated R152A. The brushes inside the vacuum cleaner motor are a constant source of electrical arcing and they will ignite flammable gasses sucked up by the hose.

If you don't believe me, here's the MSDS safety sheet for R152A:

http://www.refrigerants.com/msds/r152a.pdf

So, basically, to recap:

1) Never invert or tip the canister while spraying. If you do you'll land up blasting a jet of white liquid that freezes stuff on contact. If you mistakenly do this to a PCB, you can cause the components to shatter or crack off, destroying your equipment.

2) Never ever use compressed air in the vicinity of an open flame or electrical spark/arc. You should unplug anything you're cleaning out prior to using the compressed air on it. As I said above, using a vacuum cleaner might seem like a smart idea but it's not- you run the risk of igniting the compressed air and causing a fire. It is better to dust things out outside or in a garage if you can.

-SC
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 11:14 PM   #9
reRESERVEDMD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MythicFrost View Post
Hey,

I've got a can of compressed air and I want to clean out my Mac Pro. Is this safe to do? From what I've read so far I should only do it in short bursts, right? What exactly do I need to spray with it

Any advice?

Thanks!
TAKE IT OUTSIDE!!!

No seriously, the amount of crap that will come out of there will make suffocate you
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 11:23 PM   #10
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Thanks for all your replies, I'll be avoiding using a vacuum cleaner though as as ScottishCaptain pointed out it can explode if you suck up compressed air, also I don't want static electricity near my Mac either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zwhaler View Post
Not sure what you mean by what do I need to spray with it. You don't spray it with anything, just the compressed air into areas like the heat sinks over your CPU(s), the fans, even inside the GPU. I've done this a few times with a real air compressor on a relatively low intesity, probably higher than what would come out of an air can and haven't had any problems. Just DON'T turn the can upside down when you spray
I meant what components should I clean with the compressed air. Should I remove all the hard drive bays, RAM trays and my GPU too? And then use the can on them outside of the Mac or do it inside? I really have no idea what I'm doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ender78 View Post
Turn OFF the computer before you do it. I blew mine out a few weeks ago and she was mighty dirty. The CPU tray comes out so it may be worthwhile to take the tray and clean out the heatsinks on the it instead of blowing the dust back into the case.
Will do. CPU tray o.o how do I take that out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The-Pro View Post
Definitly take out the cpu tray and clean that extra.
I took mine out 3 weeks ago, the dust that came out the back of the heatsinks was incredible. If I wouldnt have taken the tray out that would all have landed in the case. Spray between the RAM sticks aswell and into the gap between bottom of heatsink and the cuircuit board (under the heatsink), dust settled there a lot on mine. be careful you dont get dust into the the power and data connections on the back. If you do the CPU tray first then re install it before doing the rest of the mac pro as you dont want dust pieces catching inbetween the power and data pins, for the cpus and ram, on the main logic board.
Also remove the optical drive sled, and blow air through the power supply.
Dont forget to the clean the fans, you dont want them to hurl a bunch of dust onto the freshly cleaned components do you

DPUser suggested vacuum cleaner, NO!! Dont use a vacuum cleaner, static electricity is given off that can destroy components.
How do I take the CPU tray out? I've never done that before.

Can I do the CPU tray last? Or is it better to do it first and then re-install it and then do the rest of the machine?

How do I stop the dust from getting into power and data connections?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottishCaptain View Post
Compressed air is safe to use on electronics, as long as you keep the canister moderately upright when you're blasting dust away. If you invert the can or tip it over too much, you'll actually land up spraying the liquid form of compressed air- which freezes on contact and can destroy electrical components.

Also, a lot of people are saying they use vacuum cleaners in combination with compressed air. This is a remarkably stupid thing to do. Compressed air is not really "compressed air" (that is, the stuff you breathe)- it's actually a commercial refrigerant, specifically R152A.

R152A is FLAMMABLE. It will happily ignite in the presence of oxygen and an open flame or spark at volumes as low as 3.9% in air and as high as 16.9%. If you suck this stuff up with your vacuum cleaner, you run the risk of creating an explosion- don't laugh- I've seen a vacuum cleaner burst into flames just by sucking in evaporated R152A. The brushes inside the vacuum cleaner motor are a constant source of electrical arcing and they will ignite flammable gasses sucked up by the hose.

If you don't believe me, here's the MSDS safety sheet for R152A:

http://www.refrigerants.com/msds/r152a.pdf

So, basically, to recap:

1) Never invert or tip the canister while spraying. If you do you'll land up blasting a jet of white liquid that freezes stuff on contact. If you mistakenly do this to a PCB, you can cause the components to shatter or crack off, destroying your equipment.

2) Never ever use compressed air in the vicinity of an open flame or electrical spark/arc. You should unplug anything you're cleaning out prior to using the compressed air on it. As I said above, using a vacuum cleaner might seem like a smart idea but it's not- you run the risk of igniting the compressed air and causing a fire. It is better to dust things out outside or in a garage if you can.

-SC
Thanks! I'm glad to know that.

By "unplug"? You mean I should disconnect the power cables for the GPU, etc., and then blast it? Or just do you mean pull out the power cable?

The can of compressed air that I have right now says it has a white film that comes out when you spray it so you can see it... but I think it might leave residue, should I find one without that or do they all come like that?

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by reRESERVEDMD View Post
TAKE IT OUTSIDE!!!

No seriously, the amount of crap that will come out of there will make suffocate you
Yeah? Eek... I was going to do it inside. Thanks.
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 11:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
By "unplug"? You mean I should disconnect the power cables for the GPU, etc., and then blast it? Or just do you mean pull out the power cable?

The can of compressed air that I have right now says it has a white film that comes out when you spray it so you can see it... but I think it might leave residue, should I find one without that or do they all come like that?
Yank the power cable from the back of the computer. No need to disconnect anything more then that.

Not sure what the white film is? Compressed air should leave absolutely no residue and should have no visible film or anything at all. R152A is completely transparent, totally tasteless and odourless by itself. The only thing coming out of the canister nozzle should be a cool clear gas.

I'm not sure what you bought, but it doesn't sound like the right stuff. The stuff you want can be bought at most office depots or electronics stores, specifically sold as "compressed air" for dusting out computers and stuff.

-SC
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Old Nov 7, 2012, 11:47 PM   #12
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Compressed air from an air compressor can have water.

I use a paint brush to directly dust off the components into a running vacuum cleaner. Used this method on many different computers over the years, and only ruined one, from static discharge by touching the CPU directly with finger.

To avoid the static build up, keep the computer plugged in to a properly grounded outlet, and touch the power supply periodically to keep the balance.

Also, avoid sitting down and standing up. I mean, do one or the other. Maybe it is just my chair, but after sitting down, I get a static charge.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPUser View Post
A vacume cleaner works well, too. Gets rid of dust instead of simply redistributing it in your Mac or workspace. Compressed air and a vacume work nicely in tandem.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 03:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MythicFrost View Post
How do I take the CPU tray out? I've never done that before.

Can I do the CPU tray last? Or is it better to do it first and then re-install it and then do the rest of the machine?

How do I stop the dust from getting into power and data connections?
Well I presuming you have a Mac Pro from 2009 or 2010 or later. If yes then look at the inside of the side panel of the mac pro. there are instructions there to on how to exchange RAM. it tells you how to get the tray out.
basically just push in the two riffled pieces of aluminium under the tray, then pull till they are at 90 degrees to the case then the tray will have popped out slightly so just pull it out from there.
If however you have a Mac Pro from before 2009 then you cant take out the CPU tray because it doesnt have one. In that case you can take out the RAM tray/s.

I did mine last, since the dust from the rest of the case crept down there again.
So clean it all and then do the CPU tray (given you have one, see above)

All you need to do it leave the CPU tray inside when doing cleaning. that way nothing can get into the connections becuase well they are connected
when cleaning the CPU tray clean it away from the rest of the mac pro. Very unlikely that dust will get into the connectors on the CPU tray. Just have a look at the pins on the motherboard before re inserting to make sure no big blobs of dust have gotten stuck to the pins.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 04:16 AM   #14
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Thanks for your replies everyone,

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottishCaptain View Post
Yank the power cable from the back of the computer. No need to disconnect anything more then that.

Not sure what the white film is? Compressed air should leave absolutely no residue and should have no visible film or anything at all. R152A is completely transparent, totally tasteless and odourless by itself. The only thing coming out of the canister nozzle should be a cool clear gas.

I'm not sure what you bought, but it doesn't sound like the right stuff. The stuff you want can be bought at most office depots or electronics stores, specifically sold as "compressed air" for dusting out computers and stuff.

-SC
I see. The film is so that the spray is visible, but yes I didn't think it was right so I went out and bought another a can of compressed air for use inside of a computer. Thanks.

--------

So I'm going to do this now... should I leave all the components in place (HDD bays, memory risers, GPU) or should I take them out and blast them separately and also in that area where they were?

EDIT: Should I also remove the RAM modules as well?
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 05:16 AM   #15
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You have a 2008 Mac Pro by the sounds of it, the CPU tray they refer to is on a later model. The RAM risers are the removable part you want to take out and pay special attention to as they have huge heat sinks which trap dust and reduce the cooling effect of the air flow to the hottest parts: ECC FB-DIMM memory.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 05:40 AM   #16
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Just leave your 2008 ram modules in their tray and blast between them from the ends. That way you do not risk getting static to the memory. The tray comes out easily.

The main places you will find dust is on the cooling fan blades and also in the vanes of the processor heat-sink itself. The graphics card fan can get a bit clogged too and it would be of benefit to remove the graphics card and give it a good blast.

You might find a little between the hard drive(s) and the underside of the power supply.

Just remember to keep the air can reasonably upright. It is not too fussy - just don't invert it.

Feel free to use a vacuum in the outside of the case, particularly the front and rear grilles.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 05:42 AM   #17
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How often do you all dust your MP's?
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 05:52 AM   #18
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That will depend on a lot of factors, the key ones being floor or desk, are there pets or smokers in the building etc.

In my no-smoking, no-pet room on the floor, I will notice the front grille getting fuzzy at about three months. Longer if it is on the desk.

Providing the front is vacuumed once a quarter in those circumstances, the insides would want doing about once a year. I gave the insides of my 2010 a light clean at about the one year mark when I had the opportunity since I was moving from HDD to SSD. At the two year mark I started hearing the fans increasing slightly at idle so I took the machine out from under the desk and gave it a complete and thorough cleaning - everything out, everything dusted. The fans were happy to settle to default idle speeds after that.

Worst locations for dust were the front fans, the CPU heat-sink, around the ram and on top of the GPU.

Of course, if there is a smoker or pets nearby, you will need to do this MUCH more often. Look at post #7 in this thread... http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=668215
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 05:52 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gpzjock View Post
You have a 2008 Mac Pro by the sounds of it, the CPU tray they refer to is on a later model. The RAM risers are the removable part you want to take out and pay special attention to as they have huge heat sinks which trap dust and reduce the cooling effect of the air flow to the hottest parts: ECC FB-DIMM memory.
That's right, it's the 2008 model. I see, I did pull the RAM risers out and used the compressed air inside of that chamber, and then on the risers themselves. I also took the modules out on Riser B and gave that a blast too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielCoffey View Post
Just leave your 2008 ram modules in their tray and blast between them from the ends. That way you do not risk getting static to the memory. The tray comes out easily.

The main places you will find dust is on the cooling fan blades and also in the vanes of the processor heat-sink itself. The graphics card fan can get a bit clogged too and it would be of benefit to remove the graphics card and give it a good blast.

You might find a little between the hard drive(s) and the underside of the power supply.

Just remember to keep the air can reasonably upright. It is not too fussy - just don't invert it.

Feel free to use a vacuum in the outside of the case, particularly the front and rear grilles.
I did that for Riser A, but Riser B I removed the modules and used the compressed air on them and the Riser, and then I popped it back in, after cleaning out the section where the Risers clip into.

I also blasted the fans, front and back, and the fan on my GPU which did have a lot of dust in it. Didn't remove it though.

Thanks a lot for the help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray M View Post
How often do you all dust your MP's?
I've only ever done mine once... after three and a half years

-----

Thank you all for your replies! The help is much appreciated. I'm all done now. And it still works!
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 05:54 AM   #20
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Now you have done it the once, it will not be a worry next time.

Make a diary note to do it again in a year's time. You might not need to be so thorough, but keep it dust-free and you will keep it happy.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 06:09 AM   #21
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You can use a vacuum cleaner to clean computers, BUT... you have to use the right kind of vacuum cleaner. For years I've been cleaning computers and toner from laser printers at work and we use a vacuum cleaner built by 3M specifically for that purpose. It is not a cheap machine, probably not what you would need for a one-off cleaning, but if you ever got into the business of cleaning computer/laser printing equipment, this is a must buy. Does a great job.

Here'a link to it on Amazon, read the reviews too.

http://www.amazon.com/3M-497AJM-Port.../dp/B00006HR5F
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 06:17 AM   #22
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If you have a Mac Pro 2008 I would recommend removing front fan comparment or even heatsinks too. There would be a lot of dust out there.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 12:36 PM   #23
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You can use a vacuum cleaner to clean computers, BUT... you have to use the right kind of vacuum cleaner. For years I've been cleaning computers and toner from laser printers at work and we use a vacuum cleaner built by 3M specifically for that purpose. It is not a cheap machine, probably not what you would need for a one-off cleaning, but if you ever got into the business of cleaning computer/laser printing equipment, this is a must buy. Does a great job.

Here'a link to it on Amazon, read the reviews too.

http://www.amazon.com/3M-497AJM-Port.../dp/B00006HR5F
Toner is classified as a carcinogen in most cases so that design of vacuum cleaner has to retain every particle of it. This makes the hoover very expensive and overkill for cleaning out a computer case. If you have to use compressed air in the same room as you use your Mac then hoover and dust the room afterwards to remove the majority of the dust you blew into the atmosphere. I take my MP to a friendly PC fixer shop and use their compressor run air gun to clean mine, they then clean up their repairs area at the end of the day. You should see the clouds of crap that come out the grilles with that pressure driving it.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 12:54 PM   #24
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I take stuff out of the tower before cleaning. I remove the logic board/RAM slots/CPU heat sink module, HDDs, GPU, and thats it.
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Old Nov 8, 2012, 03:16 PM   #25
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I take stuff out of the tower before cleaning. I remove the logic board/RAM slots/CPU heat sink module, HDDs, GPU, and thats it.
That's it? You remove everything of note and they say that's it?

I have a 2008 model like the OP, and i let it get increadibly dirty before first cleaning it a year ago. Took awhile but i manage to clean the entire thing out without having to remove the power supply or even take the heat sinks off (frankly on the 2008 model... removing the heat sinks and the front fan is a huge pain in the ass.)

with the 2008--> remove the optical bay, all the harddrives, the GPU and any other pci slots, and remove the two RAM risers. Use a flashlight to shine light into the tower from both inside and outside the tower. Use the straw that comes with the compressed air to get to all the little spots. Dont be afraid to use a cloth or paper towel to get some of the real gunk out of some areas (fans etc..) use the air flow design of the tower to your favor to get to areas you normally can reach by blowing air through the whole machine.

Frankly... im sure there is dirty behind the motherboard... and i doubt i got to all of the heat sink or every part of the fans (the bottom of the front fan is hard)... but that will get it mostly clean.
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