How To Keep Dust Bunnies Out Of A CPU

Gnomie Herb (Cuz) writes:

Hey Chris, I just stumbled upon some of your YouTube videos and wanted to share with you the problem of keeping dust bunnies, smoke, mold spores, etc. out of your computer CPU.

My old CPU had a buildup of smoke and dust in the heatsinks, which actually makes a substance much like a tar resin. So I ordered a new HP system and wanted to keep it as clean as possible.

It took about two weeks to build a cabinet, which has kept the CPU looking like new. The CPU is housed inside a box I built, which uses a piano-type hinge for the door, military type 1/4 turn latches, weather stripping for the box/door seal, a 1/8″ Lexan front door cover (so you can actually see the front of the CPU), a Radio Shack 65 CFM fan in a plenum chamber, and an air filter box, which is connected using PVC pipe. I use a 20″ x 20″ 3M Filtrete Filter, which removes dust, smoke, mold spores, and the other little nasties which can’t been seen in unfiltered air.

The system has now been in operation for about two months and the filter is a brown color, as compared to the snow-white color of a new filter. The 65 CFM fan pulls fresh filtered air from the filter box (which I built over the CPU box and is a permanent fixture, which I’ve incorporated into the shelves) into a plenum box, through the fan, and floods the complete CPU with fresh filtered air. So the filtered air may enter into the CPU from top, bottom, front, and sides, is drawn into the CPU, and exits normally through the rear of the CPU.

When I built the box, I used fiberglass resin painted inside and out, so the wood fibers and dust would actually be sealed and wouldn’t enter into the CPU after an extended period of use. Now, while looking through the Lexan front cover (Lexan, by the way, is a bulletproof type of plexiglas), the CPU is as clean as when I originally took it out of the plastic wrap, from the shipping box, with absolutely no dust visible, and there is no dust visible from the rear of the unit. This signifies there aren’t any dust bunnies inside the unit. Wish I had four grand to invest for patent and marketing for this, as I could probably retire! I believe if they were mass produced, they could actually sell for about 100 to 200 bucks each, and people would purchase them to keep the inside of their CPUs clean. What do you think?

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.

  • Cris DeRaud

    Chris had suggested the DataVac electronic PC cleaning machine that blows an enormous amount of air. I bought one and couldn’t be happier.

    I just open up the side case and fire up the DataVac until the dust is all gone. Lots easier to clean it out than keeping it out with filters that clog and need replacement. DataVac can blow the dust out of your filters too!

    Never buy canned air again:

  • Jack Teagarden

    I agree it works as you wanted. But it only protects the CPU unit and not the rest of your equipment.

    I used to work in a lab and am intimately aquainted with laminar flow hoods; a work space that furnishes “clean air” to a workbench and exhausts away all the “used” air. Filtered in and filtered out. I applied that process to my home.

    Having a house full of dogs, I (used to) have a lot of dust and lint buildup myself. I got a large electrostatic air filter (no filter media to buy but the removable precipitator that has to be washed in the bathtub once a month) and installed in a hall wall so it took in hallway air and exhausted it into the living room where my desk/workspace is located.

    This effectively furnishes particulate free air to my desk area that then circulates through the living room on it’s way back to the hall.

    Not only is my computer (and monitor, scanner, printer and fax machine-they all cool with circulated air, you know) dust free; so is the entire living room. Housekeeping has changed from a daily job to a couple times a month. The rest of the house, I have a small house, is noticeably less dusty also.

  • Vernon McGilbra

    I agree with with you, being in the HVAC technical field till I had to retire. I have always believed by having filtered air entered into the case to keep postive air pressure on the inside of the case will keep most contimants out of the case.
    That is the same theries all paint booths use to keep them comtimate free while painting different finishes. Clean rooms use the same system also. So computer mfg should to.