Summer in Arizona has great delights like lower greens fees for those hearty (or foolish) enough to venture onto the links in 110-plus-degree weather and, um, gee there has to be other benefits of spending time here between July and September but they seem to escape me right now. More on this later.
The summer dust storms and monsoons bring with them a lot of grit in the air that is almost imperceptible to anything but the bearings in your computer cooling fans.
Dust and grit brought airborne by these storms can get into your fan bearings and cause premature failure.
"How can I tell if my fan is failing?" Most fans that are failing will emit a loud, high-pitched squeal for a long time just before they quit working. Unlike noises in a car that seem to disappear when you turn up the radio, cooling fan noises, if left unattended, can have very dire results.
When a fan quits spinning, your computer's cooling system loses the ability to dissipate heat generated by the processor, hard drive, power supply and other vital components.
With no way to cool off, they will burn themselves up while the owner is wondering what the loud noise may be.
"OK, so I understand cooling fans are important and I should probably call someone if I hear a loud, shrill noise but are there things I can do to prevent fans from becoming defective?" Yes!
You should periodically blow out all your fans and if you have a desktop PC, blow out the case to get rid of the dust bunnies clogging your exhaust ports and the grit that builds up on the fans.
With a laptop, turn the computer all the way off and locate the vent slots on the sides and bottom of your laptop. Take a can of compressed air and blow out every slot you can find. Give them all a good shot of compressed air. You will be surprised at how much dust comes out.
If you have a PC, I recommend labeling all the wires and removing them from the tower, taking the tower outside and removing the side cover. Take a can of compressed air and blow out the case, all over the motherboard, the processor and any of the fans you see (Note: There will be one cooling fan on top of your processor, one or two on the back of your case and one built into the power supply).
Take special care to blow out the fans in both directions if possible. Do not use a vaccuum cleaner to suck out dust bunnies! This can generate static electricity, which can totally destroy your computer.
The power supply of your PC is generally located near the top of the case and is usually a long, slender rectangle with a fan on one end and holes or slots on the other end. Take special care to blow this out from both ends.
Laptops have power supply adaptors that require no maintenance since they are enclosed and have no moving parts.
Once you have cleaned the area where your computer lives, replace the side cover (if removed) and any wires and start the computer.
Performing this maintenance once a month on a laptop and once every three months on a PC will keep the fans humming smoothly and your computer running properly.
Oh, and there is another nice thing about summer in Arizona; the roads to the golf courses are less crowded because all the people with any sense are in some cooler place.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (480) 753-7667.