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Important Computer Repair Safety Tips

How To Stay Safe While Working On Your Computer

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Man pulling electrical plug out of wall, close-up
Steven Errico/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

In addition to being an afternoon of great fun, PC repair can save you loads of time and money. No amount of fun, money or time is enough, though, to compromise your safety.

Keep these important tips in mind as you work inside your computer:

Remember to Flip the Switch

Always, always, always remember to turn the power off before servicing anything. This should always be your first step. Do not even open the computer case unless the power is turned off. Many computers have a number of lights inside that serve certain functions so check to see that no lights are on. If any are still on then the power is probably not completely off.

Many power supply units have a switch on the back, killing power to the device and ultimately the rest of your PC. If your PSU has one, be sure to turn it to the off position.

If you're working on a laptop, netbook, or tablet, be sure to remove the battery, as well as disconnect the AC power, before removing or disassembling anything.

Unplug for Extra Safety

As a second precaution, it is wise to unplug the computer from the wall or power strip. If there was any doubt as to whether the computer was off before, it's settled now.

Avoid Smoke and Smells

See smoke coming from the power supply or inside the case or smell a burning or solder scent? If so:

  1. Stop what you're doing immediately.
  2. Unplug the computer from the wall.
  3. Allow the PC to cool or discharge unplugged for at least 5 minutes.

Finally, if you know which device was generating the smoke or smell, remove and replace it as soon as you can. Don't try to repair a device that's been damaged to this extent, especially if it's a power supply.

Remove Hand Jewelry

An easy way to get electrocuted is to work around a high voltage device like a power supply with metal rings, watches, or bracelets on. Remove anything conductive from your hands before working inside your computer, especially if you're doing something like testing your power supply.

Avoid Capacitors

Capacitors are miniature electronic components contained in many of the parts inside a PC. Capacitors can store electric charge for a short while after the power is turned off so it's a wise decision to wait a few minutes after pulling the plug before working on your PC.

Never Service the Non-Serviceable

When you come across labels that say "No serviceable components inside" don't take it as a challenge or even a suggestion. This is a serious statement.

Some parts of a computer are just not meant to be repaired, even by most professional computer repair persons. You will usually see this warning on power supply units but you may also see them on monitors, hard drives, optical drives and other dangerous or highly sensitive components.

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