How to fix my hardware problem?

Question

The question is in the box of the previous page.

Continuously running fan. Computer will not turn on. Some time of hardware problem, I would assume. Any ideas???? Thank you.

Answer

This question was answered on December 1, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Computer power supplies are among the weaker links in clones The primary symptom of catastrophic failure is complete lack of power to the system (no little lights, no fan turning on power supply, no noisy floppy seeks)

Check the line voltage selection switch (110/220 V) to make sure it's on 110

Push the power cord firmly into the back of the supply and the outlet

Power supplies will occasionally display this behavior if one of the main system components has developed a short circuit This may be determined by alternately isolating components from the power supply

Unplug all of the leads to the drives, and try to boot the system

If no signs of life are present, reconnect the drives, remove the power connectors to the motherboard and try powering up again

If the power supply fan still doesn't move, it's time to double check that the cord to the power supply is plugged firmly into the supply and into a live outlet (an optimist may even try a different power cord)

Paddle type switches on power supplies are fairly bullet-proof, but the push in types will fail occasionally Failure is usually obvious, such as the switch not staying in or not popping out Power supplies of this type should be checked with an ohm-meter or by attaching another switch, before landing on the trash heap

When replacing a dead power supply:

Make sure the replacement is of an identical form, i.e physical size of supply, location of switch and connection of switch if it is the front panel push button type

One of the few universal truths in the world of clones is the color coding of the motherboard connectors, P8 and P9 Connect these to the motherboard such the black leads in either connector are adjacent to one another in the middle of the connection block

Many intermittent failures of power supplies are indicated by noises The audible noise from the power supply is normally caused by the fan A steady squeal or loud hum is caused by failing fan bearings These noises may come and go in accordance with room temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors When this problem has been identified, change out the supply immediately if it is in manufacturers warranty, because it's not going to fix itself

Power supplies can last a long time with noisy fans, but failure of the fan can damage more than just the power supply, which will overheat and malfunction when the fan stops The other key noise produced by the power supply fan is the pitch of the normal drone sound it may make

If the pitch drops greatly when the drives are being accessed, the power supply is not very healthy, and should be returned if in a new machine

Power supplies can also be afflicted by whistling capacitors, and should be rejected at burn-in or purchase if this high pitched noise is present

Power supplies can also be responsible for a variety of odd-ball failures If a machine reboots itself when the table is jarred, or when someone walks across the room, there is a good chance that the short is in the power supply and not in the system Systems which occasionally freeze up and don't want to power up for a few minutes after being shut off may have a power supply problem, the other likelyhood being an overheated CPU Systems that boot and run for a very short period of time before freezing may also be blamed on the power supply A power supply with a faulty ground can cause strange problems, particularly with drives that use the frame for ground

If a known good floppy or tape drive experiences consistent failures in a system, try running it insulated from the case The easiest and often only way to trouble shoot a possible power supply problem is to swap it out

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Author

Posted by Kareem of Katharine Gibbs School - New York on December 1, 2004