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Isolating Electrical Failures For Computer Power Problems

The power systems in computers are well protected against common, accidental damage. When dangers such as electrical surges, accidental spills or sudden shut downs damage the physical, internal components, you'll need to take an electrical approach. A few inspection and troubleshooting points can help you find the electrical problem and work towards a fix or at least an accurate replacement.

Identifying Threats: Storm Surge Versus Spillage

Knowing why your computer no longer powers on is important not only for repairs, but for hopefully avoiding the problem again.

Before performing any removal or dismantling, inspect the area around the computer. Are there any spilled liquids or what looks like dried remnants of a spill? Take extra care to inspect the power plug and back of the computer, as a hidden spill can be hazardous to your health.

Remove the power cable from the computer and look for any burn marks on the back of the computer. Power can first enter the system through the power supply, but electricity may also enter from the Ethernet cable (used for Internet connectivity) or any other cords connected to a power source.

If there is no obvious outside damage, open the computer at the case panel. For smaller systems such as business laptops or blade servers, simply remove the largest panel and search for any burn marks.

Burnt circuitry has a specific, pungent smell that can be quickly identified. Smell for burnt electronics, then consult the computer's manual for parts information. You may need to use it to find any non-standard parts to inspect.

Power Supply Reset After Power Surges

As the power supply is one of the first victims of electrical damage in a computer, you'll need to search it more deeply for damage. Many modern power supplies have a fail-safe mechanism that shuts off when a dangerous surge of electricity is detected.

Unfortunately, most power supplies need to be manually reset; a dangerously high charge can leave enough latent energy stored in the power supply to give a continuous false positive or assumed threat.

In order to reset a power supply, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that the power supply is unplugged from any power source. A continued supply of power will stop the fail-safe from resetting.
  2. Press and hold the power button for at least 15 seconds. Pressing the button should discharge the power. There is no reason to hold the power button down for more than one minute.
  3. Release the power button.
  4. Connect the computer to a wall socket again and press the power button.

If the computer does not turn on, try using a different wall socket or power cable. The power supply may need to be replaced, but contact a residential electrical services professionals like those from Dunedin Electric for a deeper inspection to be sure.