Leaky Capacitors and Computer Instability



Some time back I did an article here about leaky capacitors and linked to some really great photos of a “healthy” mainboard capacitor and “bulging” capacitors. The long-story short version is this… Once upon a time there was some corporate espionage among capacitor manufacturers. Someone had a really good electrolyte formula (the goo inside a capacitor) and the other companies wanted it. Well, what they wound up getting was not the real formula, but a fake. So… any capacitors made with the false formula will be more likely to fail. In fact, it’s as though over time the electrolyte expands causing the capacitors to bulge and in some cases leak. Why is this computer related? Because if you crack the cover of a pc and look there are dozens of electrolytic capacitors on the mainboard.


I’ve seen some active failures (smoke) and I’ve seen some that are just “bulging”. So… when I see a system that is acting unusual. Strange and seemingly random freezes and the hard drive doesn’t seem to be the problem, the next thing I start suspecting is that the system board has problems. The most recent one that I saw had a row of capacitors next to the CPU and all had bulged and a tiny bit of crusted electrolyte had leaked out on each.

The symptoms the system gave were as follows: to start out with the power supply was dead – not sure if this could be caused by the capacitor issue on the mainboard – (fluctuating power demands?) but upon replacing the power supply the system failed to post – it gave a long beep followed by two short ones. This is when I inspected the board and found the crusty/leaky capacitors.

So, I made sure video/cpu and memory were firmly seated and tried to boot again. This time it started up and made it partway up to a scandisk. In fact it was at 52% when it just stopped, frozen. I waited a little while, but the system had really hung. So, I powered down again and doublechecked all on board connections. Tried a third time, again long post beep… again… start to boot and make it through the scandisk to the desktop and it freezes while accessing the old tape backup. Reboot… long post beep – long post beep… then finally successful boot to the desktop and a seemingly stable system.

At this point I put the cover back on and set it up right and tried to make sure that everything was working… it was. So, I held my breath, shut it down and started up again and all seemed well.

The moral of the story is…. after things warmed up the system seemed fine. However, it’s in the process of failing due to the leaky capacitors and I advised the owner to make plans to replace it. In this case it was fine after it warmed up but considering the nature of failing capacitors it’s impossible to say that’s always the behavior you’ll see…. it may be that they do fine cold and when it warms up it starts going “loopy”. So… if you’re having unexplained flakey behavior it could just be that your the victim of a 10-15 year old case of corporate espionage gone bad.

Related Posts

Blog Traffic Exchange Related Posts
  • Windows Vista Beta notes... What follows are some notes that I've taken on the Vista beta that I installed into a VM. I've got a lot of toying around yet to do with it (and at least one Internet Explorer bug I want to mention.) But... I'll go ahead and post this. [warning -......
  • Gateway gt4022 Won't Boot | Won't Post | Dead Motherboard The title says most all, the system would start to act as though it was powering up. The LED would come on for a second and the fans would start. The fans stayed on, but the LED went right back off and the system didn't seem to POST, or show......
  • BIOS Beep Codes One of the nice things about working on computers is that when it comes to the raw hardware of a system, the engineers have designed a way to communicate what's wrong (even if it's just a general idea) even when the hardware has a pretty serious problem. When a computer......
Blog Traffic Exchange Related Websites
  • Fast Start Formula REVIEW - Simple Techniques For Online Business Success Simple techniques for internet business success are actually simple to do implement once you get through the training curve of online or Internet marketing. Here's an overview of a few simple strategies and tactics for success with you business online. The first from the simple techniques for online business success......
  • FW: Lies, Exaggerations, and Photoshop Every day I get email forwarded to me that invariably turns out to be a hoax of some sort. Bill Gates is giving his billions to YOU, the latest computer virus will end the world, these are actual pictures of animal-fruit hybrids! Lies, exaggerations, and Photoshop. I got one this......
  • Do you smell that? Football is in the Air. Part of the weight loss process for me is analyzing all of the aspects of my life, whether good or bad. That includes my likes and dislikes. Letting you guys, the reader, observe and give me advice on how to improve is crucial in this process. One of my major......
www.pdf24.org    Send article as PDF   

Similar Posts


See what happened this day in history from either BBC Wikipedia
Search:
Keywords:
Amazon Logo

Comments are closed.


Switch to our mobile site