Is this some kind of a weird joke? Smoke can damage a Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Mac Pro 2009, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. Mac Pro 2009 macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Someone told me today that smoke damages Mac Pros... This seems hard to believe, could smoke really cause permanent damage? I'm not a smoker myself but I have people (clients) who sometimes smoke in my studio (without even asking for permission)... Should I be worried? We also use a smoke machine on shoots and when the occasional smokers leave (it's not every day, maybe like a couple of times per month) I tend to burn Armenian paper or incense to get rid of the cigarette smell in the studio... When someone told me smoke can damage a mac I thought it was a joke, I googled it and found some articles that said it voids the warranty but can it actually cause damage? What about incense or armenian paper? This seems beyond believable...
  2. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    The first can I've had shipped to Lagos is going to have cigar smoke blown through the bottom to see where the air goes and for me to watch it on FaceTime lol.

    I would imagine 60 a day for a few years might nicotine it up but I would be more concerned with large dust particles along with hairs getting sucked up it from the desk than nicotine!
  3. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816


    Oct 18, 2010
    Brooklyn, New York.
    tobacco smoke is bad for most kind of PCBs.
    Essentially it is a corrosive agent to the PCB.
    Higher quality PCBs are less susceptible.

    Voids warranty though? That is pretty absurd.
    It takes a lot of smoke to damage a PCB. FWIW I don't think smoke machine smoke is the same.
  4. ZnU macrumors regular

    May 24, 2006
    If you've ever opened up an electronic device that has been in the home of a heavy smoker for some years it's kind of scary. I could easily see how that kind of buildup could be bad news for a device that needs to be able to radiate heat effectively. I can't see why it would be worse with the new Mac Pro than with other high-performance electronics, though, and I really doubt occasional exposure will have much effect.

    Also, 'smoke' machines aren't really really putting out smoke; it's mostly water vapor. Obviously you don't want to expose the machine to too much humidity, but there shouldn't really be any sort of cumulative build-up or damage there.
  5. Joshua M macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2010
    A smoke machine doesn't actually burn anything, so you have no issues there. Occasional smoke around the Mac Pro, or any computer, wouldn't have a negative impact.

    The issue is that the computer in a smoker's home collects tar in the smoke along with the dust in the air, blocking heatsinks and ventilation much quicker and with much denser "gunk". The warranty voiding is partly because of this risk, but would be difficult to prove. The main reason companies have been voiding warranties is that it's considered a health risk for someone to work on that computer.
  6. Mac Pro 2009, Jan 7, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014

    Mac Pro 2009 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2014
    So it's nicotine that causes damage then? Not smoke from a smoke machine (which we use quite often) or incense/armenian paper?

    It's not like my assistants are permitted to smoke when they edit or anything, I just have clients and people on the team that from time to time decide right here and there when the shoot is over or during a break that they want to have a "cigarette party", suddenly the makeup artists lights up a cigarette and is soon joined by the stylist and hair stylist...

    I tend to let them finish smoking as to not kill the mood but when asked I always refuse to give permission, most people won't ask though...

    I also have a chain smoking creative director whom I often work with (Every couple of months) who lights up half a (small) pack during a day's work...

    Should I be worried?

    PS: It's the 2009 Mac Pro.
  7. Radiating macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    You should be worried if someone sits in front of your Mac Pro in a small confined space and smokes several packs of cigarettes per day, every day of the week for years. Then you will see build up and that may damage it.

    It sounds like you would be exposing the computer to less than 1% of the smoke that a heavy daily smoker would so unless you plan to live to the age of 300, and keep the same computer, you won't see any problems.

    The Mac Pro is not more sensitive than any other computer to smoke. In fact the design probably resist the damage better as the PCB's do not have air flowing over them, but instead the thermal core is completely separate.
  8. Mac Pro 2009 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2014
    What about if I get another for my home (very small flat), my girlfriend regularly lights incense or armenian paper? Any risk there? The occasional friends here will also light cigarettes... It's a one room flat.
  9. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Air does flow over the PCBs in the new Mac Pro. 100% of air doesn't flow up through exact center of the device. No way the Power supply would cool if it did that. The main board at the bottom (PCB by the way) is right next to the air intakes and before the thermal core. The backsides of the GPUs are have airflow. The wifi/bluetooth PCD ? Right there in the fan you are sucking all this crud toward.

    A layer of tobacco crud isn't going to help the thermal core do its job better either.
  10. Ezlivin macrumors member


    Aug 11, 2010
    If you've ever opened up a heavy smoker it's kind of scary. Damn, smoke really wrecks lungs!
  11. Anim macrumors 6502a


    Dec 16, 2011
    Macclesfield, UK
    I doubt it.

    Smokers in pubs back in the day you would have to decorate every 2 to 5 years due to the nicotine build up on the ceiling right above the bar. So thats 3 to 4 smokers every night puffing away on cigarettes / cigars 7 days a week.

    Cleaning this 0.1 mm thick sticky residue off before painting was a horrible task, brown stinking water running down your arms was not pleasant I can tell you.

    But I doubt a smoker could really cause much harm unless the room was badly ventilated and they blew their smoke down at the air intake (smoke rises) constantly every day.
  12. Mac Pro 2009 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Well, it's a cold climate and I have only one window so it's not super ventilated I guess. I also cook in my one room flat...

    I'm thinking perhaps I should schedule a yearly cleaning on iCal anyway. To open up the mac pro and get in there with a rocket air blower to remove dust.
  13. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    Tobacco smoke is sticky and will build up in the electronics, eventually causing problems if the buildup becomes severe. Even if a heavy buildup does not directly cause issues, it makes for an unpleasant/unhealthy mess for any technician unfortunate enough to have to go into the machine for any reason.

    Best not to smoke heavily/frequently around sensitive, air-cooled equipment. That includes but is by no means limited to your Mac.
  14. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Pragmatically voids the warranty. If Apple makes the assessment that the smoke contributed to the problem being fixed, they don't have to fix it. Apple can cancel warranty payment for work if the user has gone inside the machine and mucked with it in a way that causes damage.

    User layering tar and and tobacco crud over the components can be a contributing issue. Also the technicians are exposed, which is another additional cost.

    So it ends up that the user pays for the fix. Not too much pragmatically different from "voiding" the warranty.
  15. ctucci macrumors regular

    Dec 16, 2008
    Yer Mom's basement.
    The cigarette smoke causes a kind of sticky moist layer that collects dust. It's difficult but not impossible to remove enough of it from the fans, openings, etc.

    I have servers with high speed fans in shops where there is smoke for the entire day, and they run for years if air flow isn't restricted. After a few years, it's time to replace them anyway, so out they come. I refurb them as backup servers. They run fine. I monitor fan speeds and temps, and they stay within normal.

    But if an Apple store tech ( at least where I am in the US ) opens an iMac and sees the standard issue smoker's accumulation, they won't service the machine.
  16. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    Dustiness isn't the issue with tobacco smoke. The tar coats surfaces with a sticky goo. Can't hurt to clean the machine as well as you can with a vacuum appropriate to the job (e.g., non-static construction only, please) but that won't do much for the goo that has accumulated.

    Have a non-smoking friend sniff the circuit boards outside in non-smoke-scented air after you've attempted a cleaning. If they still "smell like smoke" then they're coated.
  17. ouimetnick macrumors 68020


    Aug 28, 2008
    Beverly, Massachusetts
    I can say that nicotine buildup in electronic devices is pretty nasty. I've dealt with many computers with that gunk caked on it, and it is VERY difficult to remove, and just disgusting. Cleaning up liquid damaged computers is also very gross, esp when the person claims that they didn't or doesn't say what liquid it was.
  18. Radiating, Jan 7, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014

    Radiating macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    You have nothing to worry about if you aren't already breaking your other electronic devices.

    Incense doesn't contain nicotine though and cooking doesn't usually have sticky vapor so those shouldn't be an issue.

    Here's a simple test though, take down a painting on your wall that has been up for a year, if your walls look like this:


    Then you have a problem, if your walls aren't turning brown, then you are fine.
  19. wesk702 macrumors 68000


    Jul 7, 2007
    The hood
    Actually it's the carcinogens. Overtime your nMP will fatigue, grow ill, and it may need obamacare more than AppleCare.
  20. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    It's pretty foul smelling I will admit but not that difficult to remove. Isopropyl usually does the trick. The worst I do recall mac wise with nicotine and tar was a dual CPU powermac tower which was absolutely covered in it inside and out. Soaked the logic board in a bath of isopropyl, and even dunked the PSU in it. Blowing that out in the yard with an airline was certainly something I will never forget, they were usually foul but this truly was something else! We washed the case in an industrial washer meant for engineering tools and it came out like new. I've had PC's at auto workshops and engineering places that made that look clean by comparison though lol.

    It's nowhere near the worst though - that belongs to full sugar cola which wrecks pcb's in a very short time compared to cigarettes!
  21. xav8tor macrumors 6502a

    Mar 30, 2011
    Guys, if you're talking cig or cigar (or any other type of smoke you might fire up and inhale), the tar, nicotine. etc. WILL gum up anything it can adhere to as the smoke laden air gets sucked into the computer and circulated. This includes CD/DVD/BR/Floppy drives (yes floppy even the 5 1/4 kind...seen it happen), fans, heat sinks, vents, filters, etc. and it will gum up everything else. Dirt and dust will stick to it, mix with it, and form even worse gunk.

    It WILL cause problems, the type, severity, and frequency being dependent upon the amount of smoke, room ventilation, PC airflow, any filters you may have, and component quality/tolerances. Smoking anywhere in a room with a computer, especially in front of it, is just plain asking for trouble. Been there, done that, and got multiple t-shirts, all the way back to the RS Trash 80. Don't do it. Smoke is bad...Uhm Kay? Apple and other vendors are perfectly within their rights to reject warranty claims if they open up and see the problem was clearly caused by heavy smoke infiltration.

    Now, as for those gray smudged iMac screens where Apple claims it is environmental, dust/smoke/pollen, whatever their excuse of the day is, they are totally full of bull on that one. You could put a 27" iMac in a vacuum for a year and before that year is up, you'd have numerous streaks and smudges creeping out from the sides of the LCD.
  22. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Not a lot to worry about in your case.. but...

    Make sure there are no ashtrays where cigarettes idle near the computer at all, especially with the nMP.

    Add a 5% hidden tax on any smoking client's jobs, to cover both your heath and your equipment's health.
  23. quatermass macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2009
    That residue isn't nicotine, it's tar. Ask a smoker to exhale through a white tissue - that brown stuff is the tar, and that's what causes the sticky brown build up.
  24. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    I've had machines that have had minor cosmetic damage due to previous owners who smoked. Inside of the machine and outside were coated in smoke and nicotine.

    Really, if you're blowing anything through your machine besides clean air, it could possibly be a problem. Even dust could possibly cause issues.
  25. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    ;) I'm looking forward to the reports from cat-owning new Mini Pro owners.

    With two big (one 18lb, other 20lb) long-haired cats, the insides of the PCs and home servers get vacuumed about twice a year (or whenever we notice fans making more noise than usual). The "upwind" side of every finned heat sink has a mat of hair.

    Fortunately, a couple of cabinets have fine grates, so an external suck is all that's necessary.

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