Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

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Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 11:23

***WARNING***: potentially DANGEROUS PROCEDURE ahead, including electrocution hazard and the general potential of screwing up the computer even more. The following guide is mainly intended for educational and illustration purposes. I won't take any liability for any damages that either you or any other persons related to you might sustain. Do the procedure shown here at your own risk only.



DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME
unless you really know what you're doing!

Hello,


Did it ever happen to you that you hear a concerning noise from the inside of your desktop computer ? And you managed to trace the noise back to your power supply-unit (PSU) ? Time and time again it can be due to a lack of oil inside a small space at the "base" of the fan. The example screenshot shows the location of where the oil needs to be inserted.







A typical PSU-fan. The red arrow points to a sticker, which typically denotes the brand of the manufacturer. Peeling off that sticker will often reveal a little "pit" where you can put in some oil. This pit also holds a type of needle (not 100% if that is the right technical term) that moves while the fan is operating. If there is no oil, this needle will cause friction, and - in very simple terms - the noise that you are hearing from your PSU. In some case, like with me, there is an additional rubber guard covering the pit.

Even those of you who might not be familiar with the inner workings of desktop computers will now ask yourself whether this particular part of the PSU is always easily accessible. That is a good point. In some cases you may need to disassemble the inner parts of the desktop computer completely in order to tinker with the fan. In my case, I decided to go a simpler, but also more adventurous route.


Haters gonna hate


Looking at the back of my desktop computer there is a type of protective grid in front of said PSU-fan. The grid is mainly intended to prevent the (average) user from touching any part of the power-supply unit. I had the choice of completely disassembling everything, including the motherboard, in order to access the fan, or...take this wire cutter here, and cut a nice little hole through the grid Very Happy  (note: this is an old computer, so I don't mind doing a little damage). Also note that by the time I did the procedure, I disconnected the desktop from the power, pressed the power-button several times after that, made sure I had no static electricity anywhere on me (by touching the metallic radiator in the room) and cleaned most of the dust inside with an air compressor. However, there is always a chance of additional risk, even if some (?) modern power-supplies have safety measures that are designed to discharge most of their energy automatically if disconnected from the power. Such as my current PSU.














Now the trickier part. First of all, I avoided touching anything else in there besides the fan. Since I still could not "directly" access that part of the PSU-fan, I had to improvise, with a type of retractable screwdriver long enough to manipulate the PSU-fan. 








Then I peeled of the sticker covering the top part of the fan. After which came the trickiest part, fiddling around with the rubber guard covering the oil pit. In my case, wedging the screwdriver into the very narrow space between the rubber guard and the plastic outer surface of the fan eventually did the trick. Applying gentle and patient pressure was another thing. If you come into the situation where you need to do this, I'd suggest choosing a screwdriver with a narrow "bit". That way you are able to apply more pressure in a small area, compared to a big and bulky screwing "bit", that will mainly be used for big screws.

The red arrow shows the rubber guard removed/detached. Accordingly in the middle of the circle there is now the exposed "pit".






Now you can either buy some higher-quality/mechanical oil to fill into the pit. If you have nothing else at hand, you could also use vegetable oil, like I did in my example. The disadvantage of vegetable oil is that due to its limited viscosity (i.e. the "oil thickness" and its ability to withstand mechanical pressures, such as the motion of the PSU-fan in this case), you will probably need to re-do the procedure more frequently, compared to using higher-quality oil. Nonetheless, vegetable oil is a decent-enough substitute for the time being. Now, if you are working with machines or even have a gun, you could use maintenance oil from that too. Another possibility would be using motor oil, which I also have left standing in my garage. I chose not to use motor oil though because of possible corrosion concerns, as well as the simple fact that motor oil is thicker (has a higher viscosity), and hence may not be the best choice for use in a PSU-fan.

Either way, you don't need much oil. I filled in maybe a quarter of a teaspoonful. I then dipped another little screwdriver into the oil, and then held the screwdriver over the "pit", letting the oil drip in. All the while making sure to not touch any actual power supply-components.













OK, the second picture turned out to be not so good, but that is me with the little screwdriver dripping the vegetable oil in. Very Happy  After that, I closed the pit with the rubber guard again.

Then re-connected the computer with all cables, fired up the machine, and voilá ! The PSU-fan was running properly again, despite the fact that vegetable oil is less suited for mechanical purposes like this.

One more note for now, if you bring your computer to a repair shop for that, they will not only rip you off in 9 out of 10 cases, but they will also most likely just put in a completely new power-supply, so that they can charge even more money. I am not implying that you should absolutely and always do the procedure I described here. Again, it can be highly dangerous. Nonetheless you should bear in mind that utilizing the services of a repair shop is on the other hand going to be quite expensive.

Also, it is conceivable that even after doing this procedure, you will continue hearing noises from your PSU. In which case there might be more serious damage to the power-supply. And that in turn should prompt you to purchase (or save up for) a brand-new power-supply. 


That said, hope you liked the little excursion here. And good luck, for those of you brave enough to try the procedure. Smile




Admin edit: Added extra warning.

- ADMIN


Last edited by The_gh0stm4n on Thu 09 Jun 2016, 10:36; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typo fixes, etc.)

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by Adwomin on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 14:43

Admin does NOT approve of this. Razz

I was explicitly told not to use oil near an electrical motor.
Friction? I is confused

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 14:57

Admin wrote:Admin does NOT approve of this. Razz

I was explicitly told not to use oil near an electrical motor.
Friction? I is confused


Maybe there are special fans that are really non-serviceable, i.e. don't need any special maintenance. But for the type of fan like the one in my old machine, the "trick" with the oil seems to be working fine. And the reason it made the noise was indeed because of friction caused by the factory-oil being dried out, inside that "pit". I personally don't believe the oil that is filled into the pit comes into direct contact with electrical components.

It's a little-known trick, since almost all people will either buy a new PSU themselves, or bring it to a repair-shop - which typically will also just replace the entire PSU.

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by Adwomin on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 15:10

Do you happen to oil your washing machine motor too, to make it run smoother?

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 15:41

Admin wrote:Do you happen to oil your washing machine motor too, to make it run smoother?

Should I ? Very Happy


I think the shafts/needles in other electric motors might be somewhat "hanging" in mid-air, hence there is no friction on that end. But the ends of those PSU-fan needles are covered by a rubber guard, hence the possibility of friction there.

I may slightly re-write the opening post, since the part about "dripping oil in" could be slightly misleading. In fact, you really don't need that much oil, so a "quarter of a teaspoon" could be a bit too much. Razz


Last edited by The_gh0stm4n on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 20:52; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by Adwomin on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 15:52

The_gh0stm4n wrote:
Admin wrote:Do you happen to oil your washing machine motor too, to make it run smoother?

Should I ? Very Happy


I think the shafts/needles in other electric motors might be somewhat "hanging" in mid-air, hence there is no friction on that end. But the ends of those PSU needles are covered by a rubber guard (I assume in order to avoid dust coming in ?), hence the possibility of friction there.

I may slightly re-write the opening post, since the part about "dripping oil in" could be slightly misleading. In fact, you really don't need that much oil, so a "quarter of a teaspoon" could be a bit too much. Razz
You should, according to my "Please definitely do not ever never no do not try this at home" manual.
No, you should not.

I don't believe electric motors are frictionless at all. (Why would they get warm then?) I thin the carbon brushes alone put quite some friction on the motor.
Correct me if I'm wrong though, I'm not an expert on the field, just very interested in electric motors. (I think they are truly fascinating)
Unless, of course, you have one of those modern Direct Drive (DD) motors, which do not have a carbon brush at all. (And are pretty much noiseless = ideal!)
Here's a link with more information and nice pictures, if you're interested: http://electronicdesign.com/electromechanical/what-s-difference-between-brush-dc-and-brushless-dc-motors

P.S. If your electric motor ever stopped working and looks like "defect", always check the brushes first. This can save many $$ on new washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Razz

//EDIT

I forgot to mention why I think oil is a bad idea. Of course, first of all, because of the fire hazard. The insides of your PC usually get pretty hot, especially when gaming. Imagine that oil heating up while you're away... I might be exaggerating here, but it's a scenario you want to prevent if you can.
Second of all, the fan moves fast. That means that there is a high chance of oil dripping and splashing on other electrical components. I assume this can cause shorts on the motherboard or the PSU. Generally try to avoid electric shorting. Razz

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by ☠ ~ Aɳɳ ~ ☠ on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 16:00

You think??? lol


I got scared just reading this. When you got to that first part, I was already like 

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 16:06

Yes, the heat aspect was also one of the reasons I decided not to use actual motor oil for that. Very Happy  If you don't use too much oil and properly close the rubber guard, there shouldn't be any splashing at all.

But I'd (at least) consider the above "fix", rather than do it like 99.9% of people and buy a brand-new power supply. Even if it - arguably - looks strange. I myself wasn't sure what to expect there, but I was surprised at the end.

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by Adwomin on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 16:14

The_gh0stm4n wrote:But I'd (at least) consider the above "fix", rather than do it like 99.9% of people and buy a brand-new power supply.
They probably (wisely) take the safety issues into account too, when choosing to buy a new one...
Not only their own safety, but also the safety of their precious system. PSUs can mess up the whole system (read: literally fry components).

Alternatively, you could also just buy a new fan, instead of a whole new PSU. Razz

Other than that, thanks for posting. Knowledge is power!
I actually like these DIY stuff and messing with things myself, hence I enjoyed reading your findings.

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 16:25

Admin wrote:They probably (wisely) take the safety issues into account too, when choosing to buy a new one...
Not only their own safety, but also the safety of their precious system. PSUs can mess up the whole system (read: literally fry components).

Alternatively, you could also just buy a new fan, instead of a whole new PSU. Razz

Other than that, thanks for posting. Knowledge is power!
I actually like these DIY stuff and messing with things myself, hence I enjoyed reading your findings.


Yes, the fan itself should not be too expensive. Also, for extra safety (if you're really concerned about the splashing) you could also put the manufacturer's sticker back on top of that thing, in addition to sealing the "pit" with the rubber guard. Very Happy

And if this fan-fix doesn't work indeed, the noise will come from the defective PSU components, and at that point, you should really replace the PSU. 

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by Adwomin on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 16:44

The_gh0stm4n wrote:(...) and at that point, you should really replace the PSU. 
You disappoint me, Carlos. I had hoped you'd write a guide on how to solder new SMD components and capacitors on that darn PSU.

//EDIT

... which is actually also a very fun thing to do yourself!

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 16:50

Admin wrote:You disappoint me, Carlos. I had hoped you'd write a guide on how to solder new SMD components and capacitors on that darn PSU.

//EDIT

... which is actually also a very fun thing to do yourself!


I won't go into that (yet). Razz  I only once tried soldering the cable "ends" on a defective headphone, but it didn't turn out well (the wires were far too thin, and it turned out my soldering iron wasn't suited for these thin wires). WhatDidUJustCallMe?

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by Guest on Wed 08 Jun 2016, 04:24

@The_gh0stm4n, you mentioned that a strange noise coming from the PSU could be a sign of this, what about smells? Could a scent almost like burnt wax/ a burning candle/burnt plastic be an indicator that the PSU fan may needs oil?

Also, what did you do about the gaping hole at the back of your PC?

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Wed 08 Jun 2016, 15:59

knorella wrote:@The_gh0stm4n, you mentioned that a strange noise coming from the PSU could be a sign of this, what about smells? Could a scent almost like burnt wax/ a burning candle/burnt plastic be an indicator that the PSU fan may needs oil?

Also, what did you do about the gaping hole at the back of your PC?


Hello @knorella,


Smell ? Theroretically maybe, if the problem I mentioned above is not treated properly and in time. You have to imagine that the fan's shaft or "needle" essentially glides on that layer of oil/lubricant during the fan motion. If the oil dries out, the shaft will rotate on the rubber, and maybe the friction can cause a smell too. But you would most definitely also hear a concerning noise.

I would have thought that if you indeed have this issue yourself, that you open the side panel of your desktop and while running the computer, try tracing the smell to a specific part. On the other hand, the damage may be done already, and if you turn the computer on again, you may damage your other parts too. So it's a bit tricky in that case. I eventually found out about this fan problem because I actually saw that the fan of the PSU seemed to be "stuttering", hence I tried the oil fix.

As for the hole, that is also a good point. If you have (very) young siblings or other kids living in your household, then a computer with such a hole can be problematic. I also imagine the same with certain pets (like cats). You could try messing around with some duct tape and least have some sort of cover around that hole, though the grid is also there for ventilation of the inner PSU-parts. You could then try putting the cut-out-grid over the hole again, and then messing with the duct tape. In my case I didn't bother since there are no kids living in my household and I am planning to replace that computer in the (hopefully near) future. Very Happy

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by Adwomin on Wed 08 Jun 2016, 16:26

The_gh0stm4n wrote:(...) though the grid is also there for ventilation of the inner PSU-parts.
Ehhhh... What he said.
At least make some holes in the duct tape.
But no, really, try something more ehhh... solid... Heck, even a small wooden plank with holes in it would be a better solution then duct tape. Razz (Plastic + warmth = not good)

Also, if you feel adventurous, you could try to weld the old metal grid back on.

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by Guest on Wed 08 Jun 2016, 17:54

Coincidentally my PSU started misbehaving two days ago. I did in fact remove the side panel and trace the smell to the PSU. It was covered in dust so I cleaned it out but that didn't fix it, if anything the burning smell because much stronger. When I read the initial post, I wondered if the oil might have been the issue, but there was definitely no new strange sound, so it might have been something else.

At least with the gaping hole, there's better ventilation Razz If you do decide to weld the grate back on, please post pictures.

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Thu 09 Jun 2016, 10:35

Yes, I'm going to leave it open for the time being at least. To see how long the vegetable oil "holds". Next time though, I'll fill in a different type of oil. 

Should I ever decide to close the grid, I'll consider using superglue to re-attach the piece that was cut out. But most likely the hole will remain open... Haters gonna hate Very Happy

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by Adwomin on Thu 09 Jun 2016, 12:32

The_gh0stm4n wrote:But most likely the hole will remain open... Haters gonna hate Very Happy
That's what she sa...- be careful that things don't get stuck in it. Never play with electricity, kids.

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Tue 19 Jul 2016, 14:16

Small update on this: to my very surprise, the temporary fix with the vegetable oil is still holding. Shocked

As for the hole, I left it open. However, I recently saw again the little piece of grid that has been cut out and thought again about it. Why should I mess with soldering the grid or using super-glue, when I have to re-apply this fix again sometime in the future ? And when there is actually an easier solution, at least in my eyes.




I fixed some wire around that grid, and with this 'mechanism' you can re-attach the grid to the back of the PSU-casing, or remove it again, with relative ease. It is a metal wire coated in hard-plastic (and no, that thing is not going to "melt" that easily). I used a similar wire back then to temporarily fix and hold a broken car exhaust pipe in its place, years ago. Car exhaust pipes tend to get much, much hotter than the back of the PSU-casing, yet the wire did not even remotely show any signs of wear or 'melting' back then, despite the wire being in direct contact with the exhaust pipe over a driving distance of about 200 kilometres.

It requires some fiddling for sure, but if done properly, it should also prevent little children or smaller animals from getting in contact with the interior of the PSU. The main reason(s) you will want to re-attach such a grid-piece, I guess.

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by ☠ ~ Aɳɳ ~ ☠ on Wed 20 Jul 2016, 15:40

This story is getting more and more worthy of McGyver Razz
Well, yes, you will need that grid there if you have young children, they will put their finger in there to see if they can indeed hurt yourself.


But even if you don't have children or pets, you may want to keep that grid in there. I know I found a (fried) mouse the socket-end of an extension cord once, when I opened it up to see why it would no longer work. It went in through a rather small hole, maybe 1cmx1cm, maybe a little bigger.
I daresay you don't want to find a dead mouse inside your computer case Razz

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Re: Refilling oil into a PSU-fan.

Post by The_gh0stm4n on Sun 24 Jul 2016, 03:37

Edin ElDi wrote:This story is getting more and more worthy of McGyver Razz
Well, yes, you will need that grid there if you have young children, they will put their finger in there to see if they can indeed hurt yourself.


But even if you don't have children or pets, you may want to keep that grid in there. I know I found a (fried) mouse the socket-end of an extension cord once, when I opened it up to see why it would no longer work. It went in through a rather small hole, maybe 1cmx1cm, maybe a little bigger.
I daresay you don't want to find a dead mouse inside your computer case Razz


Angus MacGyver is/was the man ! I watched the show when I was a little kiddo, and despite not having any meaningful life experience back then (ca. 1992 or 1993 ?), I already knew that guy was incredibly resourceful. Very Happy  

Beyond that, I don't have any mice. And if I had, I'd let my cat loose on them !  Carlos is tha man

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