Introduction: Cleaning Your Laptop Cooling System

Picture of Cleaning Your Laptop Cooling System

My main computer is an hp zv5000 - it uses two heat pipes with heat sinks and two fans to cool the processor. Through use, those heat sinks (copper?) and pipes collect quite a bit of dust reducing the machine's cooling capacity.

If you don't have this specific machine, not to worry. Just use some common sense as the basic idea is the same.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies and First Step

Picture of Tools and Supplies and First Step

You'll need two things:
Q tips and a screw driver

First Remove your battery (possibly a duh! step, but just being thorough).

Unscrew the Ram cover - to make removing the rest of the case easier.
You'll need to remove the plastic cover just behind the battery 'cave' - remove any required screws and keep track of where they came from (some of mine were longer than average).

Step 2: Removing Fan Ducts/covers

Picture of Removing Fan Ducts/covers

Remove the plastic cover carefully. It should not stick - if it does, go back and look for a missed screw.

Now we have the lovely task of removing some tiny screws that hold down those two fan ducts/covers. I used a #1 screw driver with a magnetic tip. This saved my butt as I would have easily dropped/lost one of those screws.

Step 3: Clean

Picture of Clean

Use your Q tip and wipe away any dust etc. off the fan blades and from the heat sinks. I guess you could use some compressed air, but I did not have any on hand and was able to get everything out.

When you're done, reassemble.


toome (author)2010-02-08

i have done this 2 times and worked very well.. but this time i removed heat sink and cleaned a bit better.. but after reinstlled .. my computer turns on but will not boot any more ?? any comments ?? what went wrong

biire2u (author)toome2010-02-22

Since this only happened when you removed the heat sink, you probably disturbed the processor and need to take apart again and reseat processor and heat sink make SURE you use new heat sink grease to attach. I did the same thing as you and what happened was the heat sensor in the motherboard claimed the processor was running 50C hotter than actual temp so it shut processor down. New heat sink grease fixed it

snowluck2345 (author)biire2u2013-03-22

it didn't claim that. your processor was running much hotter than the surrounding air and heatsink because you had a poor thermal interface. where did you get "50c"?

NeilR9 (author)snowluck23452015-10-09

I don't know if biire2u installed the free applications software called CPUID HWMonitor?

I have installed CPUID HWMonitor and it displays the CPU and GPU temperature.

ventcoolsystems (author)2014-01-09

Thanx for this Idea it's really work

MomLes (author)2011-04-23

You need to take the fan out and clean underneath it. My fan had wads of dust underneath that wouldn't come out any other way.

Spannerz (author)2010-12-03

I just got a laptop from an old teacher, 2005 ACER one, 1gb of ram, windows xp. I installed ubuntu and it's been lighter on the processor (celeron mobile, 1.4ghz) and ram.

Anyway, followed your tut (I'm a computer geek-o-rama but I was thinking twice about opening my first laptop) and I opened it all up, even took the cooling assembly apart. No wonder she was gonna throw it out (it kept turning off and overheating) this thing had no way for air to escape (dust-wise) So thanks :D

usbdevice (author)2010-07-18

i repaired identical hp laptop before, the pentium 4 M version. after years of heavy usage the thermal compound has 'frozen' makes it stick with the p4 chip (use penknife). reapplied thermal gel and it's as cool as new.

bwpatton1 (author)2010-01-01

LOL, I have a Pavillion ZE5200 and it is the NOISYist laptop I have ever heard, of course it has about five fans (literally), but at least it stays cool!
I just might have to use this instructable when I go to clean it out......

Cthulhu (author)2007-02-17

Trebuchet: I just did this based on another instructable. When I did, noticed that I only have one fan, though I have the same back case as yours. I have a 5320 (I think). Wonder if there's any way to add a second fan... At any rate, I cleaned out my heat sink, and haven't had the fan stuck on for an hour like I did before. Great Post.

trebuchet03 (author)Cthulhu2007-02-17

Can you post a picture?

Does the back casing have two fan grilles like/similar to mine?

To be honest, I don't know how I would go about adding a fan.... laptop modification (other than "snap in" parts) is rather difficult and depends on hardware specific limitations :/

But I'm glad to hear cleaning it out helped :)

overheated (author)trebuchet032010-01-01

We had the same experience with the same model.  There is an open space where the second fan appears to be missing. There is a foam piece inserted where the heat sink would go and an open circular space where the fan blades would go.  I am hoping that this helps to solve our problem of shutting down. I think we caused the problem by leaving it sit on soft surfaces :(  Thank you for the step by step instructions. Very easy to follow and I learned something!

Cthulhu (author)trebuchet032007-02-19

The casing I have is identical to yours. I have the grating on the bottom and the side. Just no fan. Very strange. btw: sorry for posting twice; I thought that the comments were one common thread, so I re-posted my question on the first page.

toll_me (author)2009-06-03

Hi, I have HP DV6000 laptop, does the same instructions work for them ?

ac-dc (author)toll_me2009-08-13

There are several models of DV6000, look at the sticker on the bottom for the exact model. However, I had one in the DV6000 family and it does not have a fan housing cover, you have to take the ENTIRE laptop apart including taking the mainboard out to access the fan for dust cleaning. This was a very aggravating and poor design by HP for sure, from then on I always insisted that any laptop I buy have a removable fan cover panel.

vinavil (author)toll_me2009-06-10

You should really get the service manual for your laptop before unscrewing things at random. Just google "HP DV6000 service manual". I've got an HP NX6110, and the fan is accessed from the top, behind the keyboard. Very easy though, just three screws.

fungus amungus (author)2006-07-11

I've heard that using compressed air on a lappie is bad news. Someone else might want to confirm that. Either way, some sort of vacuum would help.

I used compressed air on my computer CPU and it lived, the dust on it was a couple of centimetres on it!!!!

the affects of moisture and static shock can effect a computer, even if its not immediate. if it has a horrible crash a few months from now it could be due to this. but i could be completely wrong too, and it could be perfectly fine.

Audiyoda (author)fungus amungus2009-06-03

Using compressed air isn't necessarily a bad thing - but you want to take two things into consideration. 1) - don't randomly blow the compressed air unless you can completely remove the bottom of the case AND get access to behind the touchpad and keyboard. 2) - make sure to hold down any fan blades when using compressed air. The bearings in the fan(s) are generally not designed to spin at super high speeds and compressed air will certainly make them spin faster that intended.

le-Sid (author)fungus amungus2009-06-03

in fact, the can of compresses gas you should use to help cleaning isn't compresses air. It's another gas, varying from the can manufacturer. Usually I got thethrafluorethane. I was said that compressed air (more than a regular compressor) would create condensation on the surface used, thus the bad idea...

Luizclet (author)2009-06-07

Hello I am from Brazil. I liked this website very much. The information are very good. About this article "Cleaning your laptop cooling system" it is veru nice. I did like the information and it was very nice. The cooler of my computer was good again. Thanks a lot!

247 (author)2009-06-05

i cleaned my laptop off with an air compressor :)

modern man (author)2009-06-03

I have been using a small paint brushes & lung power to clean computer guts for a long time. Does a good job on crusty fans, and gets into small places.

security1 (author)2007-04-02

question on a zv5000 hp, i gave this to my son and the video screen comes on sometimes and sometimes it doesnt.. tried all software issues, however video and laptop works fine on external monitorwith rear vga. does anyone know the common problem, harddrive perhaps, ram perhaps... before i junk it any advise would be appreciated...

mac_daddy (author)security12009-06-03

Could be a loose video cable to the display or possibly fluorescent backlight problem.

juicebarjoseph (author)security12009-06-03

quick question, have you tried hitting the switch display button? It's usually Fn and one of the funtion keys (it's Fn and F4 for my hp pavillion zv 6000)

willh3 (author)security12007-05-05

The display will die altogether soon but very likely the screen itself is fine. Most likely, the problem is the inverter board that is contained within the display bezel. I just went through this with my zv5220. On line, you should be able to but a new inverter for about $40.00 and install it yourself. Its definitely worth the cost of the part, if your computer it otherwise ok.

trebuchet03 (author)security12007-04-02

Is it the back light not coming on? Or the screen? If you're not sure, the next time it happens - shine a flashlight on the screen and see if there's anything on it ;) If it is the back light - I'd say the inverter is starting to go bad OR the switch is going bad. If it's not the back light ... It could be anything from a loose wire to a bad screen to a bad video card :/ I just can't diagnose from here :(

security1 (author)trebuchet032007-04-03

thank you for your help. just black screen with nothing behind it. it happens when shut off and power back on, i try it several times and then screen will come on. i bought a new hard drive i will try that, there is no loose wire or screen disconnection. is the vga card and the video card one and the same, if it is the video card is fine.

trebuchet03 (author)security12007-04-03

is the vga card and the video card one and the same, if it is the video card is fine.

I'm fairly sure it's the same... But that doesn't mean both ports are working 100% :(

Does it do the same thing if you leave the machine running (screen working) for a few hours and then restart? Or is it only on "cold" starts? I don't know where I'm going with that question - but it's something I would test if I were having that problem :P

screenNamed (author)2009-03-15

HP ZV6000 difference: the Computer does NOT have the ease of dissasembly that the zv5000 has, what worked for me was removing the cd drive bay first (single superficial screw), and then removing everything else. the whole bottom of the laptop comes off. I found out the hard way. but doing it again was a breeze. hope that helps.

I had the same issue! Spent a half hour trying to find the last screw before I realised the CD drive came out.

lemonie (author)2007-02-26

I have a non-functional vacuum cleaner, which I'm thinking of adapting it for this type of precision cleaning (and fire-blowing). But for now I too use 'Q-tips'.
However, the muckiest machine I ever saw needed the gunk *scraping* off: years of smokes & cat-hair...

mirathi (author)lemonie2009-06-02

please do not use a standard vacuum to clean your computer. a standard vacuum will not protect the user from the potential danger of contact with electrical power and component damage caused by electrical discharge. a more safe way to clean your computer is to use a can of air or a box of q-tips...unless you can afford a 3m toner/electronic vacuum ($310.00) yikes!

lemonie (author)mirathi2009-06-02

How will it not protect the user any more than a can of "air" or Q-tips? (Notice that I didn't mention using a standard vacuum cleaner) L

fwjs28 (author)2009-06-02

congrats, you have been featured on lifehacker...

Pyrotechnic-Robot (author)2009-06-02

wow that is so cool! have that same laptop! I just opened it up and cleaned it out. I am trying to remove the power on password do A know anything about this?

kevincai96 (author)2007-06-13

Do you have to pay for the new hard drive? I mean, there's probably a way to trigger the SMART alarm without having a broken drive.

MonkaySquad (author)kevincai962009-05-05

If you warranty covers it; then no. Like with my Dell, I paid for a the accident protection plan, which covers ANYTHING, so when my little sister split soda on my laptop and the hard drive became damaged because of it, they sent me a new one, free of charge. Plus I had to send my laptop new to have the heat sink replaced, among other things, and it was free of charge. And if they cant fix the laptop, they replace it with a brand new one. Best thing I ever invested in. I need to extend my warranty because I believe the heat sink needs cleaning/fixing.

trebuchet03 (author)kevincai962007-06-14

I'm not familiar with the internals of the SMART system. But even when the alarm goes off, it doesn't kill the drive. I had such a alarm, once. But I knew what caused it.... a 3' drop off a coffee table when a rather stupid dog ran full speed and yanked the cable. Bugger. The thing ran for another 3 months before the problem showed up :)

kevincai96 (author)2007-06-13
Do you have to pay for the hard drive? I mean, there's probably a way to forge the SMART alarm.
kevincai96 (author)2007-06-13

I agree, trebutchet03. Toshiba could use a little imporvement on its cooling system. And, those problems were partially because of heat (2, and 3). But the memory stick was its own problem. Probably a quick short circuit would've killed it.

rivergraphix (author)2007-04-06

thanks for the 'how to clean the cooling system'. i've had the computer shuting down for months. found you site looking for a repair service. i could not believe how much dust had built up inside.really!!!! i recomend doing this often.

superjames (author)2007-03-26

Tip for remembering screw position
Take a blank piece of paper and draw the shape of your laptop and put an arrow pointing towards the back. Then physically punch the screws into the paper so that they are embedded. Place them in the exact spot that they were at when you removed them. You will have a map of where your screws were.

This way, you don't lose your screws because they are poked into the paper, and you also have a physical map of which screw went where. :)

trebuchet03 (author)superjames2007-03-26

Ahh, good idea :) I actually used that trick on my car's valve cover when changing my timing belt :P

Marky079 (author)2007-02-24

Thanks for this guide. I've been getting frustrated with my laptop resets that I didn't notice that it might've been the cooling system. I'll try to dismantle it and clean them with QTips.

Cthulhu (author)2007-02-19

Trebuchet: Exactly what model pavilion do you have? I have one, and following the examples of you and bluescrubby, I cleaned out my heat sink, which has vastly improved performance and stopped the wretched heat and fan noise. Strangely, I noticed that I only have one fan for my laptop, while you have two. I have the air inlet in the case, but only the more inboard of the two fans. I wonder if I ended up with a lower end model?.... Great post, though, thanks.

trebuchet03 (author)Cthulhu2007-02-19

It's a zv5000...

What Graphics card do you have and what processor? I have an ATI mobile Radeon 9000 IGP (128 shared memory version) and a P4 3.2.

My CPU fan is on all the time (speeds up under heavy load or hot ambient air temps). The secondary fan is not on all the time (just heavy load etc.). I also notice the second fan on more often if a game is running (especially 3D environments).

I'm thinking it could be related to the graphics card/processor combination (there' several options within the model). However, the heat pipes from the processor go to both heat sinks :/

Next time I open her up (probably within the next few weeks), I'll take more detailed pictures of the fan assembly and how it interfaces with the machine for you ;)

About This Instructable




Bio: Engineer making renewable energy products for African entrepreneurs.
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