Introduction: How to Fix Burnt Traces on a PC Motherboard

Picture of How to Fix Burnt Traces on a PC Motherboard

In this instructable, I am going to show you how I fixed a trace on my motherboard that had burnt off as a result of a faulty fan.

First a story...
So I had gotten a new fan for this motherboard, and intended to use it in teh new PC I was building. I plugged the fan in, and when i pressed the power switch, my test setup released a fair amount of the magic blue smoke from the underside of the board, the fan connector looked fine.

Upon further investigation the +12v line was burnt between the fan and the ATX connector, but the computer still worked fine. This needed repairs if I wanted to add a second fan.

I had also noticed after attempting to brush of the problem and just using the board that the PCI slots and possibly even the AGP slot had been rendered useless. My video carrd was PCI and it didn't work until the board was fixed.

DISCLAIMER:
I am in no way responsible for any further damage inflicted on your motherboard or any damage or injury inflicted upon people around you, yourself, or your tools whilst following the procedure depicted in this instructable. FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Step 1: Tools, Materials and Precautions

Picture of Tools, Materials and Precautions

For the process in this instructable, the tools you will need are:
-A soldering iron, make sure it has a good tip because you will be doing some small soldering.
-an exacto (box cutter) knife or a flat screwdriver, you are going to need to scratch some of the enamel coating away so you can solder.

The materials you will need are:
-Wire, I used some thin wire from a Hard drive cable
-Solder for your sodering iron
-Tape to hold your wires down

Other things you will need are:
-A PC motherboard with a burnt trace
-A fan (if the fan isn't spinning as a result of the burnt trace)

Precautions:
-Make sure that you unplug the power supply from the wall and press the power button. the computer will drain most of the remaining power and it will be safer to work with
-Be careful. Try your best not to damage any of the components on the board.
-Protect the parts. Remove any removable parts on the board, like the RAM, CPU, andany accessory cards you may have plugged in.
-Unplug all of the cords. You dont want to accidentally burn yourself with your soldering iron while you are fighting with cords to move them out of the way.

Step 2: Prepare for Soldering

Picture of Prepare for Soldering

Plug in your soldering iron, and get that board ready for soldering!

First you will need to scratch the enamel coating off of the motherboards traces that you want to solder to. If you are just soldering from solder pad to solder pad, then just skip this step. If you are not, keep on reading, I recommend you continue reading even if you aren't soldering to the traces.

Start at one end of the trace.
Follow the trace and find the end of it as well. It was easy for me because it was fairly wide, this may not always be the case.
After you found the start and the end of the trace, find the spots on the trace where the trace was burned through.
Before and after the burn spot, scratch away some of the enamel coating by taking your exacto (box cutter) knife or screwdriver and scratching at the trace until you see silver or a gold/ bronze color, DONT scratch any more, you have now made a spot you can solder to. repeat this for every spot you need to. take into account any spots where the trace passes through to the other side of the board, make sure that these stay connected too.

On to the next step.

Step 3: Solder It Up

Picture of Solder It Up

Now that your soldering iron is hot, and the board is ready, lets get to soldering the wires on.
It helps to tin the wires and the spots that you are going to solder to before you solder them together.
There are plenty of instructables on soldering, so instead of redescribing that, I'll just get to the point.

Solder the two ends of each wire to their respective spots, when you are done, you should have the burnt spot bridged by a wire, recreating the connection that was burned away.
Now all that is left to do is tape the wires down so they dont get in your way in the future.

Step 4: Test Your Handiwork

Picture of Test Your Handiwork

Now there is the moment of truth.
Plug everything back in, including a fan (not the one that burnt the trace) and turn it on. If it all got soldered all right then it should turn on.
If it released the magic blue smoke again then either you might have soldered to the wrong spots or maybe the fan burnt the wires instead of the traces this time.

If smoke was released again, make sure you are using a known-good fan, discard the bad fan, you certainly dont want it to trouble you anymore. Then recheck your solder spots, you may have soldered to the wrong spots on the board.

If a known-good fan didn't work, then recheck your solder spots, some may have not been rigid enough and broken off, resolder them.
If it still didn't work then there may be a problem deeper inside theboard that you will need more than eyes to see.

I hope that this instructable proves useful to someone and helps plenty.

Comments

Mocha0110 (author)2015-04-08

I agree with "codyg102". If possible drill or remove piece of the old trace on board because if there is still tiny little voltage leakage at burned path, it might make your board unstable even if you added cables.

silentbogo (author)2014-12-26

Did a similar fix on a GA-EX58-UD4P motherboard. It was one of the most expensive boards on the market, when it came out and I got lucky to acquire a broken one almost for free.

One of the traces was ripped through when the previous owner probably tried to move it to another case, in addition to having a damaged LGA1366 socket pins(~20% of them were bent!).

I've fixed traces myself and secured soldered area with a drop of hot glue, re-aligned most of the pins by hand. One of the local service centers fixed remaining pins(either bent beyond recovery or broken in half) for an equivalent of $20.

Result: a fully working hi-end mobo which I'm using while writing these lines!

codyg102 (author)2012-01-12

Very useful 'ible. I made a similar repair to the ECU (on-board computer) of an '87 Ford Ranger 4X4 I used to own when I discovered that a new one was way over $300 and a scrapyard wanted almost $200 for a used one.

One thing I did a little different was to drill VERY SMALL holes through the trace on either side of the damage (after carefully removing a small area of the coating to create a "pad"). That way I could put the wire through from the top side of the board and make the repair "cleaner". If you elect to go this route, I suggest doing this from the trace side of the board and exercising EXTREME caution so you don't do more damage;make sure you don't drill into any components on the top!

I had the truck for half-a-dozen years after I made the repair and it was still going strong when I finally sold it for parts (the body was shot and not worth repairing at that point). Must have gotten something right... :-)

jimmytvf (author)2011-10-24

why not jump the fan with the power supply?

zack247 (author)jimmytvf2011-10-24

this way i dont need to worry about extra wires dangling around inside the case, plus the PCI slots werent totally operational without the 12v line that burnt out.

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Bio: I like to modify things, make things, and modify the things i make. im no math whiz or someone with perfect grammar, but i am ... More »
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