In this photo is an older laptop which a customer had brought in because another tech had told them that they needed a new hard drive because there was a clicking sound coming from the laptop. This is just a cheap Dell Inspiron 5100 and since the cost for the job would require a new HDD, data backup, OS installation and labor costs, it was getting pretty pricey. So they brought it to us to check out for a second opinion on the diagnosis and find out why their laptop was making that noise.
The funny thing is that there was indeed a clicking sound coming from the laptop, but it was definitely not the hard drive. It was a very small twig which had gotten lodged into the heat-sink area and the fan was hitting it making a faint clicking sound. So for a much lower price we were able to quickly access the part and remove the offending twig which was making the sound as well as give it a thorough cleaning.
So here is a tip if you are looking to buy a used laptop and want to help to prolong its lifespan.
Over the years we have found various things like a blade of grass or other outdoor type of object in them and since they are portable it is not unusual to find things like this when you work on a lot of laptops. However, it is as easy as using a source of compressed air in order to blow out any dust or debris which can get caught in the fan area of the laptop.
We have offered various other tips and suggestions for easy ways that you can help keep your laptop clean before and this is one good example of why this particular tip is worth doing every once in a while. On many used laptop models this area will consist of a heatsink fan combo unit.
If you look at the picture of this you can see how the little brass area which sort of looks like a grill has the ability to accumulate a lot of dust and debris within its fins. It is really important to keep this area clean so that the laptop can stay cooler when it is powered on.
It is not necessary to dismantle the laptop in order to properly blow out any debris in most instances. However some used laptops and cheap netbooks will have accumulated a fair amount of this and will need to be manually cleaned, but this is only on the rare occasion. The more common situation is that simply by using a can of compressed air you should be able to completely clean that area of the used laptop (fan as well as heatsink) which could impede proper air flow. Finding a bargain on one of the cheap laptops under 100 which we showcase is definitely exciting, but even when the laptop is in immaculate condition it never hurts to clean out the fan area. It only takes a few minutes and the compressed air is fairly cheap too.