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Old Nov 17, 2012, 08:57 AM   #1
TrboMac
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Vacuuming iMac vent/fan question

My old PC nearly died one time due to the fan being clogged w/ dust. Since then my routine was to vacuum the fan once a week and it worked well.

Yesterday I did the same w/ my new iMac and I must've hit a button on the keyboard or something as it went dead and I had to power off/on. The keyboard's green light was flashing. Probably should've at least turned off the keyboard.

Wonder what I hit? Is it safe to vacuum while on?
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Old Nov 17, 2012, 09:13 AM   #2
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Your iMac is a sophisticated piece of technology, yet it is still susceptible to things like lowly static electric discharge which can result from running a vacuum cleaner over it while it is still live (connected electrically and turned on).

Power down and disconnect you iMac from any electrical socket if you do indeed to use a vacuum cleaner on it. I use a 3M mobile vacumm cleaner that is specially designed for cleaning computers by eliminating static discharge (It's expensive though... My work bought this for me as I am required to clean our equipment regularly).
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Old Nov 17, 2012, 09:16 AM   #3
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Your iMac is a sophisticated piece of technology, yet it is still susceptible to things like lowly static electric discharge which can result from running a vacuum cleaner over it while it is still live (connected electrically and turned on).
Good point, guess I never had this happen w/ the PC and never thought of that. I'll power down next time. Hopefully I didn't hurt anything, all seems well so far.
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Old Nov 17, 2012, 11:02 AM   #4
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I vacuum my MBP to get the dust out from under the keys, and I've never had a problem. However, two things: 1) the Mac is always turned off when I do it, 2) my vacuum is put on 'low power' - less suction - when I do it...
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Old Nov 17, 2012, 03:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CyAnMan View Post
Your iMac is a sophisticated piece of technology, yet it is still susceptible to things like lowly static electric discharge which can result from running a vacuum cleaner over it while it is still live (connected electrically and turned on).

Power down and disconnect you iMac from any electrical socket if you do indeed to use a vacuum cleaner on it. I use a 3M mobile vacumm cleaner that is specially designed for cleaning computers by eliminating static discharge (It's expensive though... My work bought this for me as I am required to clean our equipment regularly).
Isn't that low static vacuumed intended to be used on the inside of the computer where the components are at risk from static shock. Surely the outside of the computer is earth protected so it should be ok.
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Old Nov 17, 2012, 04:47 PM   #6
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Isn't that low static vacuumed intended to be used on the inside of the computer where the components are at risk from static shock. Surely the outside of the computer is earth protected so it should be ok.
I would like to know too. To be safe, unless I hear otherwise, I'll shut down before I vacuum.

I'm pretty sure I hit something on the keyboard when vacuuming but could be wrong.
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Old Nov 17, 2012, 05:27 PM   #7
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I'm pretty sure I hit something on the keyboard when vacuuming but could be wrong.
There are no keys on the Apple keyboard which will immediately turn off your product.
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Old Nov 17, 2012, 07:53 PM   #8
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Isn't that low static vacuumed intended to be used on the inside of the computer where the components are at risk from static shock. Surely the outside of the computer is earth protected so it should be ok.
Right you are. I do use it for the inside of computers, duplicators, etc.
I never considered using a household vacuum on the exterior of a computer, but yeah, I would power down the computer fer sure before doing it that way.
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Old Nov 17, 2012, 08:22 PM   #9
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There are no keys on the Apple keyboard which will immediately turn off your product.
Lesson learned. Hopefully I didn't hurt anything...
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 06:34 AM   #10
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Yeah whatever you do never use a household vacuum cleaner on ANY electronic device!

There are anti-static computer specific vacuums out there that are suitable for this. and i recommend a small air compressor to blow out the dust and dirt as the vacuum wont clear out much.
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 06:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CyAnMan View Post
Your iMac is a sophisticated piece of technology, yet it is still susceptible to things like lowly static electric discharge which can result from running a vacuum cleaner over it while it is still live (connected electrically and turned on).

Power down and disconnect you iMac from any electrical socket if you do indeed to use a vacuum cleaner on it. I use a 3M mobile vacumm cleaner that is specially designed for cleaning computers by eliminating static discharge (It's expensive though... My work bought this for me as I am required to clean our equipment regularly).
You should actually leave it plugged in. The ground creates a safe path for any static discharge.
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 10:40 AM   #12
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Yeah whatever you do never use a household vacuum cleaner on ANY electronic device!

There are anti-static computer specific vacuums out there that are suitable for this. and i recommend a small air compressor to blow out the dust and dirt as the vacuum wont clear out much.
I'll look at anti static vacuum cleaners. I would think the air would blow it around more and inside?

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You should actually leave it plugged in. The ground creates a safe path for any static discharge.
But powered off right?
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 10:56 AM   #13
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I'll look at anti static vacuum cleaners. I would think the air would blow it around more and inside?

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But powered off right?
Yes power it off..
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 11:11 AM   #14
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You should actually leave it plugged in. The ground creates a safe path for any static discharge.
actually, it could still create static build up. and unplug any machine connected to an outlet. that is why ESD Mats and ESD Wristbands should be used as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TrboMac View Post
I'll look at anti static vacuum cleaners. I would think the air would blow it around more and inside?
Blow what around inside? dirt? no not in the iMac.
a vacuum wont help much unless you plan on taking off the glass and lcd and vacuuming inside
an air compressor will be much more helpful.

Last edited by ThirteenXIII; Nov 18, 2012 at 11:18 AM.
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 11:48 AM   #15
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Was your PC on positioned on the floor?

I have found that with the iMac up away from the floor they end up with way less dust

B


Quote:
Originally Posted by TrboMac View Post
My old PC nearly died one time due to the fan being clogged w/ dust. Since then my routine was to vacuum the fan once a week and it worked well.

Yesterday I did the same w/ my new iMac and I must've hit a button on the keyboard or something as it went dead and I had to power off/on. The keyboard's green light was flashing. Probably should've at least turned off the keyboard.

Wonder what I hit? Is it safe to vacuum while on?
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 11:58 AM   #16
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Blow what around inside? dirt? no not in the iMac.
a vacuum wont help much unless you plan on taking off the glass and lcd and vacuuming inside
an air compressor will be much more helpful.
Compressed air can just drive dust further in to heatsinks and assembly in some cases. I would be careful in doing so. The best way to do it would be to blow the air thought the slot gap at the top of the machine trying to get it to flow through the heatsinks inside to clear the dust out. Then use the vacuum to clear dust away from the intake at the bottom. Finally using the compressed air to blow more dust down from the top and bottom vents in to the vacuum placed in and around the bottom intake vent.
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 12:11 PM   #17
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Compressed air can just drive dust further in to heatsinks and assembly in some cases. I would be careful in doing so. The best way to do it would be to blow the air thought the slot gap at the top of the machine trying to get it to flow through the heatsinks inside to clear the dust out. Then use the vacuum to clear dust away from the intake at the bottom. Finally using the compressed air to blow more dust down from the top and bottom vents in to the vacuum placed in and around the bottom intake vent.
im not sure if your familiar with the internal design of the iMac,well actually the OP never stated if it was a white iMac, aluminum, 21, 27, etc but assuming its a newer one the 21 & 27 have more of an opening at the top and where all the heatsink outtakes are and blowing from the bottom up and the small opening in the rear of the iMac above the power cord is ideal so the dust shoots straight up and out avoiding the components and logic board.

ideally want to lay it face down and apply the air through the bottom grill
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 12:28 PM   #18
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Was your PC on positioned on the floor?

I have found that with the iMac up away from the floor they end up with way less dust

B
Well it was on the desk, but it was a laptop and I can see how it would suck up more dust than my iMac.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThirteenXIII View Post
im not sure if your familiar with the internal design of the iMac,well actually the OP never stated if it was a white iMac, aluminum, 21, 27, etc but assuming its a newer one the 21 & 27 have more of an opening at the top and where all the heatsink outtakes are and blowing from the bottom up and the small opening in the rear of the iMac above the power cord is ideal so the dust shoots straight up and out avoiding the components and logic board.

ideally want to lay it face down and apply the air through the bottom grill
I have the iMac in my signature. So facedown, apply air through the bottom, and it comes out the vent above the power cord?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tri-stan View Post
Compressed air can just drive dust further in to heatsinks and assembly in some cases. I would be careful in doing so. The best way to do it would be to blow the air thought the slot gap at the top of the machine trying to get it to flow through the heatsinks inside to clear the dust out. Then use the vacuum to clear dust away from the intake at the bottom. Finally using the compressed air to blow more dust down from the top and bottom vents in to the vacuum placed in and around the bottom intake vent.
This was my thinking initially as well w/ compressed air...
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 12:37 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by ThirteenXIII View Post
im not sure if your familiar with the internal design of the iMac,well actually the OP never stated if it was a white iMac, aluminum, 21, 27, etc but assuming its a newer one the 21 & 27 have more of an opening at the top and where all the heatsink outtakes are and blowing from the bottom up and the small opening in the rear of the iMac above the power cord is ideal so the dust shoots straight up and out avoiding the components and logic board.

ideally want to lay it face down and apply the air through the bottom grill
The OP said new iMac so I figured the 2010 model. I would have thought that to blow air thought the bottom not only would it be hard to get the air to flow through the the fan units to the heatsinks but blowing it in that direction you could potentially blow more dust in to the heatsinks blocking them further. If you intend to clear any blocked dust and don't intend opening up you case you are far better blowing in the opposite direction to the air flow to clear the heatsinks. I did not want to make my original post to long hence why I did not explain my logic.
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Old Nov 18, 2012, 12:52 PM   #20
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I never directly vacuum my computers. I always hold the vacuum a few inches away and use canned air to clean the hardware. The vacuum then removes the dust so that it doesn't just settle back on the computer.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 12:09 PM   #21
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I've used a Kirby vacuum cleaner with horse hair brush attachment on my 2010 iMac, G4 iMac, and 2009 mac mini without incident for years. I gently brush against the circuit boards and get a bit more aggressive with fans. I do back everything up first though.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 01:56 PM   #22
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I've used a Kirby vacuum cleaner with horse hair brush attachment on my 2010 iMac, G4 iMac, and 2009 mac mini without incident for years. I gently brush against the circuit boards and get a bit more aggressive with fans. I do back everything up first though.
I'm assuming you power off? I must've got lucky w/ the PC as I never had any issue. It scared me w/ what happened on my new iMac. Rest assured, I'll not do that again!

Still not sure exactly what happened but it seems static electricity was involved.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 04:20 PM   #23
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Yeah, it was turned off and unplugged. I do touch metal before touching anything on the computer.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 07:34 PM   #24
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Spoke to Apple about this in the past ....

DO NOT USE COMPRESSED AIR !!!!!

Compresser air will blow the dirt deeper into places where it does not belong.

Vacuum ONLY from the bottom vents, that is where the air and dust enters the system.

If you vacuum from the top you just pull dirt farther into the computer.

If you are really concerned, or it is installed in a high dust area you could build a filtered air source and let it blow clean dustless air under the iMac.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 09:10 PM   #25
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Spoke to Apple about this in the past ....

DO NOT USE COMPRESSED AIR !!!!!

Compresser air will blow the dirt deeper into places where it does not belong.

Vacuum ONLY from the bottom vents, that is where the air and dust enters the system.

If you vacuum from the top you just pull dirt farther into the computer.

If you are really concerned, or it is installed in a high dust area you could build a filtered air source and let it blow clean dustless air under the iMac.
Well that confirms my original suspicion on using air, but people here and another computer tech guy say they do...

So you're saying they told you to vacuum only the vent on the bottom, or the 'RAM' plate?
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