Laptop Repair: Overheating Issues

Does your laptop shut down on its own?  Does it get so hot you can’t keep it on your lap?  Does the fan scream or make grinding noises so loud it scares you?  If so, you could be having overheating issues.

What’s happening here?  First of all, if the processor (CPU) gets too hot, the laptop will shut itself down to protect it from burning out.  There are other reasons for unexpected shutdowns, but this is a major one.  This can also happen if the video (graphics) chip overheats.

This could happen for several reasons, but the major causes are as follows.

The fan is clogged or is going bad: 

It could be gunked up with dust or pet hair, preventing the air flow of the fan.  Sometimes the bearings on the fan go bad, resulting in grinding noises.  Dust and hair can either damage the bearings directly, or block the fan from rotating freely, which in turn can damage the bearings.

The Thermal Compound on the CPU has dried up and/or cracked:

In this case, the laptop will shut down on its own, or the fan will run really fast.  Why?  There is a thin film of heat conducting “grease” that sits between the CPU itself and the surface of a metal plate called the “Heat Sink”.  It’s like a radiator and has thin metal (usually copper) fins to help dissipate the heat from the CPU.

The thermal compound forms a seal that ensures full contact between the CPU and the heatsink, so that it efficiently pulls off the heat.  Over time, it can dry up and crack, breaking that seal.  Old, dried up compound also loses it’s ability to transfer (pull off) heat from the CPU.

Repair & Maintenance Options:

1. Get a can of air and blow it into the cooling vents of the laptop.  You’ll be surprised at what comes out.  If you wait too long however, there may be so much caked up in there, this won’t help.  The laptop may have to be opened up, so a technician can get in there and clean it up.

2. Broken fans have to be replaced.  This is not usually a big job, and the fans are cheap.  On some models however, the fan and heat sink are an integrated assembly and you have to replace the whole cooling system.  This is a bit more expensive, but still not too bad.

3. Remove the old thermal compound and put on a fresh layer.  This costs a little more, as you have to remove both the heat sink and fan, so you can get to the CPU.  When we do this, we use a higher quality compound than what the laptop came with.  We use a silver-impregnated compound that makes the laptop run up to 10 degrees cooler than standard ceramic compounds.

We can help you with these, or any other Computer and Laptop Repair issues.  If you’re reading this post from outside our website, click this link to our Tucson Laptop Repair website to learn more.

Thanks for reading, and check back for more helpful tips and information.