View Full Version : Bzzzt! Help, I think I just killed my computer.

2009-10-03, 11:20 AM
So yeah, I was in a rush, moving my office type setup to a different room. I realized wanted to check on just one thing. So I decided to plug my tower in 'just real quick' even though I'd already moved my surge protector.

Cue momentary blue glow, a bzzz kind of hmm I'd always assumed was a Hollywood invention, and the smell of... ozone and fusing computer parts? So I know I borked my computer, but I want to know how badly. And if my idiocy in ignoring the need for a surge protector is to blame here or if I can blame the universe in general on this one.

2009-10-03, 01:19 PM
Why not turn the thing on and see? If it don't work you have probably just blow a fuse somewhere.

2009-10-03, 02:43 PM
Why not turn the thing on and see? If it don't work you have probably just blow a fuse somewhere.


That would be the opposite of what is a good idea. Find somebody who knows how to take apart computers. If you know no such person, take the unit in to a repair place like the Geek Squad (I work for them). They shouldn't charge you anything just for cracking it open to inspect it for burned, melted, or otherwise borked components.

As far as who's to blame, I'd say it was just a freak accident. A normally functioning grounded wall plug should never do such a thing, surge protector or none. The surge protector is in case of bad things. It could be a loose wire, or it could be a short (there are no fuses on the interior of any modern desktop I've ever seen). Either way, any damage done will only be made worse by attempting to turn it back on.

The good news is that, no matter what happened, I doubt it damaged the hard drive, so you're data's there. Getting at it may end up costing money, though.

Berserk Monk
2009-10-03, 03:27 PM
Killed your computer? Find a cleric and prepare to spend a crap load of money on diamonds.

2009-10-03, 05:49 PM
Depends where the blue glow came from. If it came from your outlet, it may just have been arcing in the socket. If it came from your unit, it might not be a good idea to plug it in.

I once had a huge flareup when I plugged in my laptop into a wall socket. The flare came from the socket itself and scared the heck out of me and my students. I suspected that there was some arcing between the outlet contacts and the plug that ignited lint and grease that were trapped in the outlet from years of neglect. (I work in a very badly-maintained building.)

2009-10-04, 11:59 AM
Thanks guys. Yeah, the blow glow came from the computer end of the outlet, and my boombox is running fine off the socket.

It probably was the socket, my house is old, as in 'was a two room miners shack a hundred years ago' old, with more stuff, electricity included, tacked on later. The wiring's been finicky before too...

To bad it's not really the hard drive I'm worried about. That big tower was my 'gaming rig' such that it was.

Ah well, I'll check the warrenty and have it sent to someone.

2009-10-04, 12:31 PM
If you're lucky, only your power supply's shot, and replacing it will make everything fine (should run you in the realm of $100 for a decent one).

2009-10-05, 01:47 AM
Yeah, it's really just a matter of what got fried. If you want, you can unplug and open the computer and take a look inside, and see if you can find the burn mark(s). As long as you don't move anything, you won't make anything worse.

And yes, the most likely culprit sounds like bad house wiring. If so, there's a good chance you only fried the power supply. A short, on the other hand, could fry anything.

2009-10-05, 09:32 AM
I've made smoke come out of computers on at least 3 occasions. One computer was fine. The other lost its sound card. And the last only lost a fan. You might have fried something but a majority of the computer is probably still useable.

2009-10-05, 11:36 AM
As someone with much experience of moderately exploded computer parts, I think you should put it through the smell test.
Did your computer smell like:

Burning metal - this indicates a mechanical part. Worst case would be the HD, but usually a fan. Since it's an electrical problem I'd suspect your power supply.

Smokey - indicates a component or wire blowout. These are pretty rare though. Check visually

Can't quite place it kind of plastic-y - The big one, either your memory, motherboard, BIOS, and/or your cards. This is bad but there's usually some salvageable parts, especially the CPU.