PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM/Laptop emitting liquid

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QUESTION: My acer D525 has emitted some kind of fluid on two occassions now. First it was very little and I barely noticed, yesterday it happened again. The liquid has a chemical smell and is definitely not from an external source. I know a little about laptop hardware(very little) so I opened the LCD and confirmed it is not the mercury in it that's leaking out cause I am aware this will be very toxic, what I do not know is if such toxic substances are used in internal or motherboard components and if it could be equally harmful. A few sources have said it is either a blown capacitor, thermal fluid or something in that line which will mean I can use the computer without suffering toxic harm, however I need your expert opinion.

1. What could be causing such a leak?
2. If it is a capacitor, why is my computer still fully functional?
3. Are there components in the motherboard that contain toxic substances that can spill?
4. Can I continue using the computer? I really need it for my final year project.

Might I also add that the fluid seems to rise from within the laptop to the surface, it has never leaked from the bottom. It is also in very small quantities, merely enough to cause a liquid smear on the left edge on one occasion and around the power button on the second.

My product is no longer under warranty so acer is no help.
         Thanks in advance.

ANSWER: Wow, I've never heard of a laptop having this kind of problem, only a desktop. Laptops have very few capacitors compared to desktops, and usually never blow due to the laptops lower power usage requirements. I have come across one laptop of mine that has a full sized desktop capacitor, however it has thankfully never popped.


Another thing I would check for is your battery. Disconnect your battery and look for any of the liquid source coming from the battery. If you can confirm it is not the battery, that is more or less good and bad at the same time. The battery acid is probably much more toxic than the capacitor fluid given it has to be able to hold a charge without an external source of power, unlike a capacitor that doesn't hold charge very well

Some say capacitors don't hold anything at all when power is cut, but I do believe they hold a micro-amount with no power because with some laptops, I've repaired them by holding down the power button for about 60 seconds without a battery or power cord plugged in and if possible, no CMOS battery as holding down the button connects the circuit for power to flow which will drain the capacitors to a dead nothing.


If it indeed is not the battery, and you've confirmed the mercury from the lamp is not leaking, the only thing I could figure is capacitors as you've already been told.

Now you've asked why your computer would still be running with blown caps. A capacitor's job to to hold a charge and regulate it before it transfers the charge to a component on the motherboard. The capacitor may not be doing much work because sometimes, the power going to the component/capacitor is already stable. Higher quality components often experience this. I've experienced many IBM computers that ran perfectly with a whole 30 capacitors heavily blown.

If you have the expertise to take apart your screen, I would take apart the rest of the laptop immediately. Leaking fluid from a capacitor let sit on components can corrode/deteriorate the other components on the board and/or short them out, causing a required motherboard replacement, if the board doesn't need replacing already.

If you want, follow up your Acer model number because the one laptop that I have is an Acer and has a full size desktop capacitor which may have blown on your model. If the model matches mine, you are lucky as the repair is EXTREMELY easy.

If you take apart the computer, take the opportunity to thoroughly clean the heatsink and fan
(You may have to take apart the fan from the heatsink by unscrewing a few tiny screws) and clean all the dust build up. This will ensure the computer runs very cool, last longer, and perform better. Use Arctic Silver thermal compound and re-thermal the processor chips and other components that touch the heatsink, such as the power regulators and VRAM chips for the on-board video card, if any.

Hope this helps, let me know that model number so I can successfully help you on this serious issue.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Acer emachines D525. For now i cannot say the motherboard needs to be replaced, it might get bad over time but for now, there's no glitch. If you can guide me on the maintainance process I'd be glad. Hope the liquid in capacitors is not toxic like mercury is. From what you say, if I do not clean up the liquid on internal components they will corode and eventually die right. If that's gonna save my pc I'm ready to risk it all. Thanks, you are too kind

ANSWER: Well bad news on the fact that it is not even close to my model. I do not see any external desktop capacitor that I was hoping for. Upon inspection of the motherboard for your model, I see three solid capacitors which I've never seen go bad...ever. I don't really know from this stand point what exactly is causing the liquid.

I recommend taking apart the laptop down the the motherboard and pull the motherboard out of the case and physically inspect the board for damage, or fluid protruding from it. If so, clean it up with cotton swabs and paper towels, after you have some gloves on to protect your hands from the fluid of coarse. You can easily find dis-assembly guides on YouTube or other sources for properly taking apart your laptop without damaging anything. If you don't find an exact model tear-down, you may still be able to get away with a similar model from the same company as the methods for dis-assembly are often the same.

Again, take this opportunity to clean the heatsink and fan assembly thoroughly to keep temperatures down making performance better and making the laptop last as long as possible.

Hope this helps, have a great day!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks a million for the aid so far. I have already downloaded two youtube videos to that effect. So apart from the capacitor are there no other sources of liquid within the computer?
Thanks again, I have already rated you 10 all round and I feel it's not enough

Answer
I greatly appreciate your ratings. If I got paid for this website, yes, that would be quite awesome as I do need it. I joined Allexperts to help people, and that is all. I believe something good will come out of it one way or another.

On your next reply, could you possibly tell me where the leaking on the laptop came from. Determining from point of leakage may help me figure out which cap may have gone out, and tell me the color of the fluid if possible.

As for confirming that the fluid coming from the laptop is a capacitor, I am mostly certain of that. Capacitors are the only components that hold liquid material in them. The only other thing I could ever imagine giving reason for liquid coming out of a laptop would be something spilled on it in the past and it seeping down around the parts (which is really bad for short circuiting the board just as well). Given capacitors are actually easy to replace, if they are blown and leaking, a DIY repair could cost less than 5 bucks given capacitors are often cheap. Solid capacitors, which are often more confined (saving space for use in laptops), so if you were to replace the caps, you'd have to get the exact specifications in terms of physical size. When replacing capacitors of any kind, keep the uF rating the same, but if possible within the room of the laptop itself, try to go one step higher in voltage. A higher voltage capacitor will still provide the components it supplies with the power it needs, but the capacitor at a higher voltage rating gives it that buffer of space of not blowing out again under heavy load, random spike of voltage, or extreme heat.

I would do the repair for you since I am experienced in replacing capacitors on boards, but unless you are in my county, it probably wont be worth it. There are many people who do these types of repairs, but it is a matter of finding one who does it and whether or not the price is right. Because it is a more precise repair, some people might charge a load, or not, not too sure.

For now the step you must take is confirming if the caps are blown. I'm giving you a link below to see what blown caps look like. The fully silver looking caps on the page I'm linking you are the one's on your laptop. The info text is blue and when they burst, they may have a bulge or a crack or both. Here's what they look like, some fine, some not https://www.google.com/search?q=solid+capacitor+blown+how+to+tell&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=0H4RUd6sHYmg9QSn1oDYAg&ved=0CD0QsAQ&biw=1366&bih=653

Have a great day!

PC hardware--CPU & Motherboard & RAM

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I can answer most No POST problems, compatibility between parts, upgrade options, troubleshooting, etc. Before you ask me a question, please do some research. I do not give PC speed reviews for video games.

Experience

Many, many years of experience working with the hardware components of many types of computers including desktops, laptops, kiosk computers, and even running Windows 3.1, 95, and 98 on the PSP (Sony PlayStation Portable). I've replaced capacitors on desktop motherboards making them working like new again with a high success rate. This is my hobby/job every day.

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Associates of Science in Computer Information Technology

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