Tales From a Computer Guy: “Something Exploded in There”

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If you read my previous article, you know that I used to work for the now-defunct Totally Awesome Computers (a chain of local computer sales/repair shops in Northern Utah)

One day a lady came in with her two teenaged children complaining that “something had ‘exploded’ inside the case” and was now leaking out the front.

Those of you who know computers know that there isn’t much that can “explode” inside a computer: capacitors, maybe a fan that has popped off its spindle, a CD or DVD that has flown apart inside the optical drive… but “leaking”? No, unless it’s liquid-cooled, nothing inside a computer should “leak” out the front – yet that’s were a sticky yellow-brown “goop” was, seemingly oozing out of the lower-front fan grill.

We checked the computer in for service.

After getting it on the bench, it POSTed and booted fine. I started my routine suite of diagnostic tools, put on a pair of latex gloves (something we rarely ever did back then), and took the front cover off: the “goop” what on the outside of the case, but not much on the inside. Whatever it was, didn’t look like it came from anything inside the case.

At this point I’m thinking someone had some food or beverage next to the computer and spilled it. I took the front panel into the back and washed it with soap and water… doing so unlocked the film on the surface and the aroma of what the goop was began to mix with the fruity smell of the soap…

With the computer patched and updated, hard drive defragged, interior blown out, and exterior scrubbed down, I made the call to the customer. Whey they showed up I had a pretty good idea of what had happened, but wanted to see the lightbulb turn on over their head.

Do you keep the computer on the desk? “No, it’s on the floor.”

Do you have a little dog? “Yes, how did you know?”

You may want to keep the dog out of the computer room from here on out. “Why is that? (lightbulb) Oh. Oh! Eww!!!!”

Sure enough, the little purse-dog had been urinating on the computer tower. For future reference, I let them know that cleaning pet urine and damage due to liquid wasn’t covered under our warranty. Embarrassed, they gave a fairly sizable tip and thanked me for my help.

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