Extend Your Laptop's Life! Clean the Dust Out of Its Heat Sink.

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A very basic overview of how I cleaned the dust out of my Toshiba laptop's heat sink. There was so much in there! I can't believe this practice isn't recommended and encouraged by the manufacturers.

If dust is blocking the air inlet and outlet and/or the heat sink, your computer may overheat. Symptoms of overheating include very hot air coming out of the outlets, an unusually hot base, or the computer suddenly shutting off for no apparent reason. If your computer doesn't have a low enough setting for automatic shutoff due to overheating, the components inside may be damaged.

I broke no stickers or seals while doing this, but there is a possibility of leaving some marks on screws or covers. This almost certainly voids your warranty, so keep that in mind before you start!

This was a very easy process but can present many opportunities for dropping tiny screws. If you have a tendency to drop things or aren't good with screwdrivers, please hire a professional to do this for you.

Step 1: Remove Fan Cover

The first picture is obviously the computer base. The fan cover should be easy to identify. I recommend placing a cloth or something down before overturning your computer. I didn't ... oh well.

The three screws circled in red are hex screws. I didn't have a hex driver so I used a small flathead that fit well. Not a great idea, but it worked well enough.

Step 2: Remove Inner Cover

When the first cover comes off, here's what you see. Up top is the copper heat sink that sends off heat through many vanes as air passes through it.

I don't know why these two fans are different. Maybe someone can leave a note and educate us?

The five circled screws are small phillips head. I made extra sure not to drop these while removing them.

Step 3: Vacuum!

Here's what the inside looks like after I vacuumed it. I wish I had taken a before and after shot! The area on the copper sink where the arrow is pointing was covered in about 1 mm of dust in the middle, up to 3 mm toward the sides. The exit area off to the right was covered in about 1 mm of dust the whole way across. In other words, they were both completely blanketed. There was also a lot around the fan blades.

I used a small attachment on my regular vacuum cleaner to get most of it, and then a brush attachment to get some of the stickier pieces off. I didn't try to completely clean the fan blades or the bases under the fans.

This amount of dust collected after about 2.5 years of everyday use. Based on what I saw, I'd recommend doing this cleaning at least once a year to enhance cooling of your laptop.  Keep it clean!

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    37 Discussions

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    zack247

    8 years ago on Introduction

    "there is a possibility of leaving some marks on screws or covers"

    this is exactly why they dont tell you to do this. and on top of that, people who dont clean their heatsinks will kill their laptop faster, meaning they will either take it in or replace it. more money for the producers, so they dont advise cleaning their product, as it will prolong its life and bring in less profit from dead laptops

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    pterrazack247

    Reply 2 years ago

    Use a rubber band, a medium sized thin one for manually unscrewing the tiny computer screw. It's a hack I picked up for stripped screws, being I can't see very well, using that, and plenty of light, coupled w/patience works for me w/o leaving marks, or scratches. I pack rubberbands in any tool kit where I have drills or screwdrivers. XP

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    IgnatyS

    2 years ago

    its not that simple it takes me about 1-3 hours getting to the fans i need to unscrew every little bolt on the back of my laptop and even take off the motherboard

    i have a toshiba Quosimo 7xx and it takes ages to clean it i would like someone to suggest a faster and easier way?

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    lmb

    11 years ago

    Want a bad consequence? All that excess heat is doing more than draining your battery, its damaging the mobo. If your laptop doesn't start up on the first solid push of the button, this could be why. I'm sure the DIY community is tired of hearing me say this, but check out dcse.dell.com if you need to clean out your Dell. If you have pets, grab a set of tweezers first and reach into the blades. I've yanked hair-balls out of fan intakes that probably would have choked the cat who generated them.

    2 replies
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    ItsJustJlmb

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    dcse.dell.com

    I tried to access this and I got a page with a message denying access.

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    rfexciterlmb

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Great Idea !! -- I would like to Thank all for their respective input, that is some good reading there, and some good advice as well. I wish I knew of a way to obtain a service manual, or perhaps someone in here knows how I could get into a "Toshiba Satellite 2715XDVD", that belongs to a friend of mine. It will come on and boot up for maybe a minute or so after "POST", then konk out. It gets real hot after awhile on the bottom of the unit near where the A/C adapter plugs in, and at the plug itself. I'm certain that it's overheating, and I need a way into the unit to clean it out. -- Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. -- Thanks in advance.

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    pjotahh

    5 years ago on Step 2

    One is an air inlet and the other an air outlet. Both are optimized to perform their specific task, giving a slight difference in design

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    katerbater19

    7 years ago on Step 2

    I don't think that they are different I believe one blows air in and the other blows air out so one is upside down and the other isn't. Thanks for making this btw!!!

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    darthbindy

    7 years ago on Introduction

    i have a toshiba portege netbook, it doesnt turn off when it gets hot but i burnt my hand on it once any suggestions? (its realy hard to open, only a ram cover, everything else hidden.

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    imohammed

    7 years ago on Introduction

    i have toshiba satellite pro U200.... any solution for fan noise and overheat of laptop? please...

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    TOCO

    8 years ago on Step 3

    good instructable. I always heard that vacuming electronics could give them electrostatic shock.

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    twocvbloke

    8 years ago on Introduction

    I used to have a Toshiba Satellite A30 with a heatsink like that, it loved to collect dust and dirt, clog up and overheat, though to clean it out I used to take the whole lot out (heatsink, fans, grilles, everything) and give it all a good vacuuming and brushing (with a small paintbrush), removing the lot reduces the static issues, and allows you to replace the ageing thermal paste on the CPU... :)

    My current laptop though has a heatsink that is pretty much well-built into the base, you have to strip the whole thing down to access the heatsink and clean it, thank goodness it's not a performance laptop otherwise it'd be a real pain!!! :S

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    trf

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Ok you definitly dont wanna use a vaccum for that. The vaccum has an ability to make static (not enouygh for u to feel) that may damage and fry components. They make special pc vacs for it but they are costly..the best bet is to used compres air meant for cleanin pcs and then vaccum up the mess around the computer instead of inside it.

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    ejsilver26trf

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I use compressed air to clean out our laptops, but I do it outside, thus no mess. I recommend doing this once and a while. Our laptops were getting quite warm at times, so I cleaned them out and they were a lot cooler. Great Instructable for opening the case, BTW...

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    Bari0

    8 years ago on Introduction

    My laptop wont even open because of some stupid hinge --' And I can't get to the heat sink and clean it

    it is good to see all these ibles on proper PC cleaning and fixing because every computer-disabled (people who dont know sqat when it comes to pc's) people think a geeksquad person can fix it nooo thats what an IT thats been to college can do. nuff said, gooday sir and ,good ible

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    memyselfand1

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Right... Now try this with my Toshiba Portege M300. The Terror of Notebook Repairers across the whole of Ballarat, Victoria.