Cleaning iMac fans

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
Hello.

I was wondering how I could go about clearing out dust from inside of iMac. Do Apple Stores do this? If so, how much would they charge? Has anyone actually taken iMac to Apple Store to clean iMac fans?

I was also recommended a method where I could vacuum the air intake... Is this effective...?

Thanks!
 

rigormortis

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2009
1,813
229
I've seen the genius at the apple store cleaning people's macs and blowing them with compressed air for free

i took a leaf blower to my windows pc once!

don't hold the compressed air upside down, or shake it, or spray too much or it will freeze it


don't expect them to physically open it for free
 

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
I've seen the genius at the apple store cleaning people's macs and blowing them with compressed air for free

i took a leaf blower to my windows pc once!

don't hold the compressed air upside down, or shake it, or spray too much or it will freeze it


don't expect them to physically open it for free
Thanks for the reply.

I read that I shouldn't use compressed air though. Will compress air blow out dust particles effectively instead of, well, sucking them out with vacuum cleaner?
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,777
5,588
Hong Kong
Vacuum is not working well on computer components.

1) vacuuming creates a large static build up that could (and most likely will) discharge into the sensitive electronics inside your computer case.

2) The effective distant is much much less than compressed air.

The theory about compressed air (the one that not for electronic device) is bad because the air may contain moisture. If you blow some moisture to the connector and boot the machine when it's still wet (almost immediately after the cleaning), then you may damage your machine. However, if you use the correct compressed air (e.g. the can air which is for computer, or some duster like this one). And wait few minutes after you blow the dust away. The chance of damaging your Mac due to moisture is almost zero.
 

iMi

macrumors 65816
Sep 13, 2014
1,203
2,242
I've been thinking about this as well. It's time for spring cleaning after all...
 

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
Vacuum is not working well on computer components.

1) vacuuming creates a large static build up that could (and most likely will) discharge into the sensitive electronics inside your computer case.

2) The effective distant is much much less than compressed air.

The theory about compressed air (the one that not for electronic device) is bad because the air may contain moisture. If you blow some moisture to the connector and boot the machine when it's still wet (almost immediately after the cleaning), then you may damage your machine. However, if you use the correct compressed air (e.g. the can air which is for computer, or some duster like this one). And wait few minutes after you blow the dust away. The chance of damaging your Mac due to moisture is almost zero.
Thanks for your input.

So how should I use compressed air to blow dust out of fans?

Do I just put it on air intake, and blow the air? And dust will come out on the other side?
[doublepost=1461458032][/doublepost]I guess there is another crucial advantage to fanless computers like rMB other than portability. I won't have to worry about dust being clogged up inside the computer!
 

Mr. Buzzcut

macrumors 65816
Jul 25, 2011
1,037
486
Ohio
I've had my iMac apart and I really don't recommend this without opening it. I think the dust will mostly land inside the case if you don't. You should definitely clean off the intake vents, though.

Here you can see the problem. Of course, your model may be different.

 

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
I've had my iMac apart and I really don't recommend this without opening it. I think the dust will mostly land inside the case if you don't. You should definitely clean off the intake vents, though.
Thanks.

EDIT: How should I clean the intake though? It's a very tight opening down there...
 
Last edited:

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,533
2,302
Delaware
The picture that Mr. Buzzcut offered is not even close to a 21.5-inch Late 2012 iMac.
You can look at the teardown at the iFixit site for your iMac model.
You'll see that there is only one fan. The intakes are along the bottom edge, and the outlet is the square vent underneath the hinge.
I don't think it is worth your time to disassemble (cutting the case open) just to clean the newer iMac models - if that is your only goal.
Now, if you are considering upgrading the RAM, or swapping out the hard drive, then a full cleanup is something that you can do while getting everything else done.
 

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
The picture that Mr. Buzzcut offered is not even close to a 21.5-inch Late 2012 iMac.
You can look at the teardown at the iFixit site for your iMac model.
You'll see that there is only one fan. The intakes are along the bottom edge, and the outlet is the square vent underneath the hinge.
I don't think it is worth your time to disassemble (cutting the case open) just to clean the newer iMac models - if that is your only goal.
Now, if you are considering upgrading the RAM, or swapping out the hard drive, then a full cleanup is something that you can do while getting everything else done.
Ah. Thanks.

I wanted to clean the fan because I thought my iMac has become louder... I know for sure that my iMac used to be quieter than my MBP, but now my iMac definitely makes more noise than my MBP.

I guess buying a new iMac would be easier and more economical...? lol
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,533
2,302
Delaware
If the choice is clean, or replace - I would do the cleaning.
But, do you KNOW that you have dust inside (do you live in an extreme-dust area?)
A 3-year old system isn't likely too gunked up inside, depending on local environment, I suppose.
 

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
If the choice is clean, or replace - I would do the cleaning.
But, do you KNOW that you have dust inside (do you live in an extreme-dust area?)
A 3-year old system isn't likely too gunked up inside, depending on local environment, I suppose.
My room isn't too dusty. The desk area doesn't attract too much dust either. My mid 2009 MBP, which has been operational in my room ~70% of its life, is now quieter than my iMac...
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,533
2,302
Delaware
I also would be even less likely to open a 2015 iMac.
Good thing that the OP has a 2012.
2012 iMac is not much fun to open, either, unless you have a real need to do that.
Then you review the teardown steps, and make sure you have the tools, then don't rush any steps.

(But I still wouldn't do it just to clean, which may or may not help the noise anyway.

@e93to - Can you use a utility to change the fan speed to see if that's really what causes the noise?
 
Last edited:

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
I also would be even less likely to open a 2015 iMac.
Good thing that the OP has a 2012.
2012 iMac is not much fun to open, either, unless you have a real need to do that.
Then you review the teardown steps, and make sure you have the tools, then don't rush any steps.

(But I still wouldn't do it just to clean, which may or may not help the noise anyway.

@e93to - Can you use a utility to change the fan speed to see if that's really what causes the noise?
Yes, it's definitely fan noise (hollow sound of air being sucked in/out). I've also done AHT before (fan would spin at max at some point), so I am familiar with the sound of fan
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,777
5,588
Hong Kong
Thanks for your input.

So how should I use compressed air to blow dust out of fans?

Do I just put it on air intake, and blow the air? And dust will come out on the other side?
[doublepost=1461458032][/doublepost]I guess there is another crucial advantage to fanless computers like rMB other than portability. I won't have to worry about dust being clogged up inside the computer!
It seems you have the 2012 21.5" model. I didn't own this Mac, but after check it's layout. I suggest you switch the iMac off, and blow from the exhaust.

DSC_3500.jpg


For turbine type cooler, this way works better. HOWEVER, this is mainly for recovering the fan's performance (if you assume the dust make the fan draw less air etc). And it cannot remove the dust from the iMac, because for the iMac design, it's almost impossible to remove the duty without open it. What you are doing is blow the dust away from the fan (or make them no longer attached on the fan), so, the fan can perform. And when you switch on the machine again, you can manually run the fan at full speed to try to draw out as much dust as possible (assuming the dust are free to move again).
 

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
It seems you have the 2012 21.5" model. I didn't own this Mac, but after check it's layout. I suggest you switch the iMac off, and blow from the exhaust.

View attachment 628467

For turbine type cooler, this way works better. HOWEVER, this is mainly for recovering the fan's performance (if you assume the dust make the fan draw less air etc). And it cannot remove the dust from the iMac, because for the iMac design, it's almost impossible to remove the duty without open it. What you are doing is blow the dust away from the fan (or make them no longer attached on the fan), so, the fan can perform. And when you switch on the machine again, you can manually run the fan at full speed to try to draw out as much dust as possible (assuming the dust are free to move again).
Thanks for your input!
 

Mr. Buzzcut

macrumors 65816
Jul 25, 2011
1,037
486
Ohio
The picture that Mr. Buzzcut offered is not even close to a 21.5-inch Late 2012 iMac.
You can look at the teardown at the iFixit site for your iMac model.
You'll see that there is only one fan. The intakes are along the bottom edge, and the outlet is the square vent underneath the hinge.
I don't think it is worth your time to disassemble (cutting the case open) just to clean the newer iMac models - if that is your only goal.
Now, if you are considering upgrading the RAM, or swapping out the hard drive, then a full cleanup is something that you can do while getting everything else done.
My mistake. I overlooked the signature. I stand by my comment, though. There isn't going to be a good way to make sure the dust exits versus disperses within the chassis.

Also, my environment is pretty clean and I don't smoke, yet the fan blades were pretty dirty after 4 years. I would not have taken it apart if I wasn't installing a SSD so blowing out the dust was just a secondary benefit.
 

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
I'm a bit hesitant to do an SSD upgrade because at this point 1TB SSD costs a bit much (Samsung 850 Pro costs like $CAD700). And labor charge for opening up the iMac will probably cost $500ish?

At that price I might as well get a new iMac!
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,777
5,588
Hong Kong
I'm a bit hesitant to do an SSD upgrade because at this point 1TB SSD costs a bit much (Samsung 850 Pro costs like $CAD700). And labor charge for opening up the iMac will probably cost $500ish?

At that price I might as well get a new iMac!
The 850 Evo is fine, for most user, no need to go for the 850 Pro.

Also, you don't need to open the case or pay anyone. Simply plug the SSD into one of the USB 3.0 port, you will be able to enjoy your SSD's speed. Leave the HDD inside as the backup boot solution / data storage.

However, since you won't open up your iMac, you can't clear the dust.
 

e93to

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 23, 2015
809
182
Toronto
I too am curious as to the best way to keep out iMacs clean inside...?
Make sure the iMac's surrounding is not too dusty. Excessive dust comes from air vents, blankets, curtains, etc. And make sure there is air ventilation/circulation around your iMac.

Also, careful where you aim when you're watching private videos during your happy time :eek: