Electrical Failure Points In Desktop Computers

Viruses are popular computer problems and upgrades are always a concern, but electrical failure is an issue that not every computer technician is equipped to handle. It takes broad expertise to not only identify the electrical flow of a computer, but to carefully pinpoint any necessary replacements and the potential cause. After all, a replacement is useless if the problem will happen again. Take a look at a few electrical failure points in desktop computers to understand what could go wrong.

Power Supply Unit Failure

The first and most obvious point of electrical failure is the power supply unit. As the point of entry for electricity, the power supply utilizes a single power cord for input, then multiple cables to output power for the motherboard and different device drives such as the hard drive and the DVD drive.

It's possible for the power cable to fail, which can be a bit confusing since it's such a simple part of the setup. During electrical storms or any situation causing an electrical surge to enter the building, power cables for computers can burn internally. Due to the thick shielding, the damage often goes unseen. Before performing further electrical troubleshooting, try a different, known working power cable.

The power supply connectors can come off during severe electrical charges or temperature change. Chip creep can be used to explain more than just circuits, as the connectors can be pulled as well over the lifespan of a computer. The metal contacts inside of the power supply connectors can also pop out of the plastic caps, such as in Molex connectors used for drive devices. 

The power supply itself can burn out, but avoid opening the unit casing. Power supplies can store voltages high enough to cause serious injury or death within the capacitors, and without proper training, you may not know how to avoid all exposed contacts.

Front Panel Connections

On the computer motherboard, a row of front panel pins are responsible for some of the most important functions necessary to maintain the system. The power button, reset buttons and activity indicators for the main disk drive are connected with a two-pin connector each. A single wire is used for each pin, and the pins are arranged by positive or negative pin position.

Different motherboards may have varying pin positions, but the risks are the same. Any burns on the connector pins will disable that specific button, which means you'll likely have to replace the motherboard.

There are ways to replace the specific wire, which may be a more likely source of damage. If the computer case has been kicked, nudged, moved around roughly or otherwise abused, the wires could have been pulled out of place or ripped. Although it's simple to replace the wires, you'll need to make sure that you follow a color coordinated setup and preserve the plastic pin connectors to label each pin's purpose.

Pin management can be difficult, and many aspects of computer electronics repair techniques can lead to further damage if you don't have a steady hand. Contact a computer electronics repair professional to discuss troubleshooting and replacement options.