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#1 Atom

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 08:03 PM

A transformer down the street blew up and surged the power on my street. Other people reported their TVs fried. My TV, cable modem, router, and desk top PC were all plugged into the same surge protector. During the surge my PC fried but everything else was perfectly fine. I could smell burnt components. I don't know if it's fixable. The PC will not power on at all. Yes I tried a different electrical outlet but same result. Should I replace one component at a time (power supply, motherboard, etc.) or should I just junk the whole thing? I do have all my data backed up but I would like to fix this PC if possible because a friend of mine built it for me and it was pretty expensive. But he is now in a different country and connot help. Thanks for any advice.

#2 cnm

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 08:19 PM

Hello Atom,

The damage most likely went from the outside in so you surely need to replace your power supply.

Take a look at the motherboard and if there are blackened resistors or damaged capacitators then you need a new motherboard.

If necessary get in touch with your friend and find out what the part numbers are.

Let us know how you are doing with part replacement. I would guess that the CPU and hard drive may be all right.

Is this the same PC you posted about here? The hard drive has a trojan infection.
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#3 Drabdr

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 09:32 PM

Hello Atom!

Interesting situation. Was the computer turned on when this occurred? Does your dwelling have breakers/fuses on the main panel? I would think they would go off first.

Generally, the surge protectors are rated for a particular load. A transformer power would go as high as the primary side of the transformer (not sure, but guessing like 600VAC or something) I would think that surge protector would be rated well above that. Lighting storms and such are a different matter; voltages can be very high on those.

Depending on your nominal voltage in your area, you have 120VAC (or 240VAC) coming into the back of the computer. Wires then go to the power supply, which powers the computer. That is the source power for all the components on the computer.

I would contact the person who built your system and see if the primary (incoming 120/240VAC) and/or the secondary (voltage out of the power supply) on the computer is fused. Since you said this was an expensive system, then it's possible a fuse was blown.Possibly there is a breaker/ reset switch that may need to be reset.

NOTE: I am not sure what your technical expertise is. But there are capacitors on the board that hold a pretty potent voltage. Be careful what you are touching; you can get shocked even if the computer is not plugged in.

If it is still unclear past the fuses and reset, it will take an individual with some basic electronic troubleshooting knowledge and a meter to determine how extensive the damage. But just like CNM suggested, a quick look at the motherboard will demonstrate if there are scorch marks and such.

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#4 Atom

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:07 PM

Thanks guys. No this is not the same computer I posted about previously with the google search trojan. By the way I'm still working on that one and will post an update soon.

Yes the computer was plugged in at the time of the surge. I live in an older house with a fuse box and not a breaker box. I just don't understand how neither the house fuses nor the surge protector triped (as they are designed to do) to protect my PC. The PC was built in Japan with parts manufactured in Japan sold by a Japanese retailer. Neither of us are now in Japan due to military reassignment so it would be hard to find the exact same power supply. Perhaps I should just remove the power supply and bring it to a parts retailer and let them find a compatible replacement. Aside from shopping online, could you recommend a walk-in retailer where I could find such a power supply?

#5 Budfred

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:51 PM

Power supplies are mostly pretty interchangeable unless the configuration of your computer is unusual... Assuming it is a full size desktop, it is usually going to be standard... However, before pulling it and replacing it, I suggest you check for any other indication of burn/char to make sure the mainboard is not toast... If it is, replacing the power supply won't get you too far...

As for stores, it would depend on where you are... If you have a MicroCenter in the area, that is probably a better option than something like a Best Buy... The people working there tend to be more knowledgeable and less likely to insist that you turn it over to their equivalent of the Geed Squad to repair it at inflated prices...

If you find evidence of burn/char on other components, post back here where it is... If it is the CPU, you are probably going to need to start over...

Fuses are a lot less sensitive to power surges than computer components are - that is why surge protectors became so popular...
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#6 Drabdr

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:28 PM

I live in an older house with a fuse box and not a breaker box. I just don't understand how neither the house fuses nor the surge protector tripped (as they are designed to do) to protect my PC.


Well... it all depends. It depends on what your house fuses are rated, and what the in-rush voltage was of the surge. I would have thought once the amperage exceeded the fuse rating (guessing 15 amps or 20 amps)it would have at least blown the fuse. It may have still surged the system, but the fuse (or breaker) would have tripped. It may be possible that the fuses are older fuses (that may not be as sensitive) or are of a larger size. Consider that the main fuse is 20 amps; your computer is approximately 1/10 that. :) Too, a surge is powerful, but very quick. If there is a slow-response fuse installed, it may never have time to exceed enough ampacity to blow out.

Regardless, it looks like the challenge is trying to ascertain the damage to your system.


Perhaps I should just remove the power supply and bring it to a parts retailer and let them find a compatible replacement. Aside from shopping online, could you recommend a walk-in retailer where I could find such a power supply?


You mentioned the military. Are you near a base? All branches of the military have some pretty well-trained technicians. Maybe you could get one of them to verify the voltage coming out of the power supply with a meter. Do you live near an electronics store; a smaller one? Maybe you can walk in with the power supply and ask if they can check it for you. They may be willing, in the hopes of capturing any future business from you.

However, as Budfred and CNM have stressed, the first test is to simply remove the cover from the computer and visually inspect the components. If you see black scorch/burn marks on the main motherboard, there is a possibility for some extensive damage. It would probably be best at this point to purchase a new system.

Life is too short to remove the USB safely.

 


#7 Atom

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:28 AM

I removed the power supply. Manufacturer: Scythe. Model: SCY-500T-TG12. Dual-Wired Switching Power Supply ATX12V Version 2.01 500W
AC input 115/230V~ Peak power 550W max
manufactured OCT 2010

I thoroughly inspected every centimeter of the motherboard/CPU/video card and found no sign of visual damage. I did not diassemble the power supply but did look inside it with a high beam flashlight and found no visual damage. Perhaps I should have diassembled the PC immediately after the surge to sniff around and find the definitive source.

Anyway, all web search results for this model appear to be japanese. I cannot find a site to order a new one.

I'm not located near any military bases as I'm no longer in the military. There's a small repair shop in my small town. Maybe I will try there tomorrow.

#8 cnm

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 10:50 AM

Good - it sounds as though the damage may be minimal.

Take the power supply to the repair shop and ask them to check the voltages.
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#9 Atom

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 07:25 PM

Today I did exactly that. I was fortunate to find a repair shop just a block away. Very strange since nothing else is anywhere near here. Anyway, it was tested and the power supply is bad. I have ordered a new one online. I tried to get the closest match of the previous one. Should be 3-5 business days to arrive. Any advice before I install it?

#10 Budfred

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:53 PM

Today I did exactly that. I was fortunate to find a repair shop just a block away. Very strange since nothing else is anywhere near here. Anyway, it was tested and the power supply is bad. I have ordered a new one online. I tried to get the closest match of the previous one. Should be 3-5 business days to arrive. Any advice before I install it?

I probably would have ordered one with somewhat higher power specs, but definitely not less... It is important to make sure that your power connections are correct for your motherboard, but other than that, it is pretty easy to install a power supply... Once you get it installed, you may still find out that other components are fried as well...
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