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Computer Killers - Pet Hair, Dust and Cigarette Smoke

As a computer technician, I have seen some pretty interesting computer problems. The majority of problems I encounter in the home market are adware, spyware or connectivity problems and the occasional hardware problem.
The hardware problems are usually caused by simple manufacturer fault (as in, it was going to fail at one point anyway) or a power surge. However, occasionally I find a computer that was killed by pet hair, dust or cigarette smoke. These three eventually find their way into the computers fans or heatsinks causing the computer to overheat and die.
Over the years I have come across a few bad cases of this and I would love to share some of the photos with you.
Warning: Some of these photos are pretty gross. I purposely kept them at a high resolution so you can see them in all their glory. Click on any of the thumbnails to view the high resolution version.

Computer 1Power supply totally clogged up with dust
A client brought in a laptop that kept restarting during bootup. At first, I thought this would be your typical “Windows blue screen of death with the automatic restart option switched on” but the computer didn’t even get to the Windows stage, it would crash out in the CMOS. Suspecting a overheating problem, I entered the BIOS, looked at the temperatures and noticed that they extremely high and climbing. Seconds later, the computer shut itself off again. I knew this was definitely going to be a temperature problem. On the outside, the computer seemed in relatively good shape as seen in the photo below:
Dirty Computers: Pet Hair
I opened up the laptop and looked at the internal parts. The insides were relatively dust free with the exception of a little surface dust in the CPU fan, but nothing that would totally clog it up. So I continued on and took out the heatsink, heatpipe and fan section that is highlighted in red:
Dirty Computers: Pet Hair
I separated the heat sink and the fan and found the problem; a bad case of pet hair. The fan would pull in pet hair through the air vents shown in the first picture and try and push them out the exhaust air vents. However, due to the fine fins on the heatsink it was getting caught and was building up:
Dirty Computers - Pet Hair
I pulled out the hair using tweezers, gave the computer a blast with some compressed air, put it back together and it worked perfectly. Temperature was normal and it ran for a good 5 hours without problems before the client picked it up again. Here is the photo of the ‘hair monster’ I removed:
Dirty Computers - Pet Hair
Computer 2
This computer came in because it wouldn’t boot at all; as if there was no power. This could be caused by a dead power supply, dead CPU or dead motherboard. I opened it up to find out and was greeted with this:
Dust in the CPU and on the Motherboard
The video card GPU’s heatsink and fan are in there somewhere:
GPU Heat sink and fan totally covered in dust
The power supply is barely able to breathe:
Power supply totally clogged up with dust
.. and the back side of the power supply doesnt look to great either:
Dust covered power supply
To top it off, the side case fan is barely managing to spin:
Side case fan clogged up with dust and hair
Computer 3:
This computer came in because it wouldn’t boot at all. From the smell of it, I was pretty sure the death of this computer was caused by cigarette smoke. You see, when cigarette smoke and dust collide in a computer, it produces this weird dusty-tar combination that has a pasty texture. Its brown, it smells bad and is hard to remove. It turns out that the CPU had overheated and died on this computer because airflow generated by the fan was unable to get air into the heatsink fins; here’s why:
Computer heatsink blocked by cigarette tar and dust
I removed it as a whole by getting my tweezers in between the heatsink fins and pushing the the layer of dust/tar up:
Computer heatsink blocked by cigarette tar and dust
Computer heatsink blocked by cigarette tar and dust