View Full Version : Grumbling noise from computer
12-02-2003, 09:55 AM
Just recently noticed an unusual "grumbling" sound from the 'puter'
What moving parts are in there besides the fan? Can feel air coming out so know fan is working at least somewhat.
If it is a bearing noise from the fan, should I hurry up and replace it before it goes bad? Or can they grumble a bit for a long time before failing?
Is it a do it yourself job to replace that fan? Is the fan expensive? And where would I get a replacement fan?
Is a 3 year old HP puter with ME. Not real expensive--about $800 back then.
Has been a good computer with no real problems for 3 years. What happens if the fan quits? Does the computer fry or just shut down on some kind of safety device?
12-02-2003, 10:03 AM
A grumbling noise is pretty typical leading up to failure of the fan in the power supply. In most cases I've had, the fan will fail and you won't notice until the power supply overheats and shuts the computer down. I've had this happen several times and it has never damaged the computer, and in each case I could pop the case off the computer, point an external fan at the power supply, and the machine would run fine indefinitely until I had a chance to replace the power supply. Replacing the power supply is cheap and easy - a couple of screws and a couple of wire connections, just make sure the replacement is the proper size in both physically dimension and electrical load.
It's always possible that a power supply failure could be more catastrophic, so a preventative replacement wouldn't hurt. You might try to localize the sound you're hearing to make sure it's a power supply fan and not a chip cooling fan, hard drive, etc. since there's a lot of other things which might make that noise.
12-02-2003, 10:08 AM
There's this moving part called a "Hard-disc Drive" somewhere inside your computer... after a few years, these things start to grumble... it's natural. You'd grumble, too, if you had to work as much as your HDD works. If you just shut down your computer now, it will stop grumbling.
Seriously, if by "grumbling" you mean "crunching" or "grinding", your HDD might be on its last legs... is your PC a laptap or desktop? How long is your service agreement for?
12-02-2003, 10:11 AM
Originally posted by gluteus maximus
is your PC a laptap or desktop?
Or is it a laptop?
12-02-2003, 10:22 AM
It is a desktop. Had the cover off one time to change out the Net Card and ilt seems like I only noticed one fan in there. I guess I could pull the cover off and run it that way to better localize the noise.
Not real noisy yet and I can feel air coming out the back. Sound is more like a light stuttering than a real grumble. Just never noticed it before.
Good to know that if it is the fan and it does quit, it will most likely just shut down the computer and probably not hurt anything.
It's most likely the fan. Just open up the case and see which component is making the noise, it should be pretty obvious. If you want to be sure, you can jam something into the fan to stop it momentarily and see if teh noise stops too.
If it's the hard drive making the noise, back up the data immediately and then replace it as soonas possible. If it's a case fan (a fan bolted to the back wall of the case) you can just remove it, take it to a computer shop and get one that's about the same size. If it's the power supply, it's probably best to replace the whole power supply. You could replace just the fan inside a power supply too (I've done it) but it's not the safest thing to do. If it's the CPU fan, you can get a replacement at any computer shop, but be sure to specify the type of CPU. Actually I think some CPUs may have the fan and heat sink bonded together - I'm not too sure what to do in that case, besides get a new CPU.
12-02-2003, 10:29 AM
If you have an electronics friend, they can get replacement power supply fans for under $5-you'll pay more for shipping than the fan cost.
If you wait until Mr. Fan checks out of the hotel, he'll take Mr. Power Supply along, and whatever data you hadn't saved, perhaps more.
My PS fan was starting to make noise, and with replacement handy, I just hadn't gotten to it, until the modem card began behaving oddly. Case interior seemed warm-replaced fan-all is good.
12-02-2003, 10:32 AM
It could be a worn bearing on the processor fan; this is one component that you really should replace before it fails completely.
You'll be able to tell which fan it is as soon as you run the machine with the case open.
Processor fans are easy to replace - if your processor is a 'socket' type (plugged directly into a socket on the motherboard), it should be possible to just unscrew or unclip the fan, unplug the wires powering it (make a careful not of where they connect to) and take it to your local computer shop so that you can get an exact replacement.
If your processor is a 'slot' type (soldered onto a board that plugs into a slot in the motherboard), then you may need to unclip the processor assembly and carefully unplug it from the slot before you can get at the screws securing the fan.
Before you start unplugging things, shut down the computer, unplug the power cable and, wherever possible, touch part of the metal computer casing as you touch any electronic components such as the processor so that you are at the same potential as the machine and you won't zap it with static electricity (it isn't always easy to earth yourself if you need both hands to carry out an operation, but you could get an earthing strap for your wrist and clip it onto the case, or do what I do - roll up your sleeves and keep part of your forearm in contact with the metal case while using both hands to work on the computer.
Definitely unplug the mains supply before you start (I haven't always subscribed to this advice, but I was wrong), because:
-Some parts of the motherboard can remain powered even when the computer is turned off - drop a screw onto these and you could damage it.
-If there is a fault in the PSU, there is a remote chance that you could be exposed to mains current.
12-02-2003, 10:37 AM
Thanks for all the tips.
12-02-2003, 10:40 AM
I've been experiencing the same phenomenon, only I'm pretty convinced that the mine is related to the hard drive. The sound will increase in pitch and sound like the drive is going to spin so fast that its coming through the top of the case. I haven't noticed any unusual amounts of heat, just quite a bit of vibration. My wife tells me that the computer sounds like it needs a new transmission.
12-02-2003, 10:51 AM
That sounds like the processor fan too plnnr - I've heard this a number of times recently on computers at work - the fan can sometimes run silently for a while, then (perhaps due to some thermal effect) the bearing starts to chatter and the thing starts making 'revving' noises, only to settle down and be quiet again a little later.
12-02-2003, 10:53 AM
Oops, I meant to add that the hard drive will usually be spinning at a much higher RPM than any of the fans, so bearing noise there, unless it is related to sudden and catastrophic bearing failure, is more likely to manifest itself as a whining or whistling sound, to begin with.
12-02-2003, 11:27 AM
I appreciate the info. I was going to feel kind of silly telling the computer doc that I needed a new transmission.
12-02-2003, 06:19 PM
Here's another not quite so good tip (but I use it all the time) - to eliminate the PSU fan as the source of noise, you can momentarily stop the fan by pushing something shatterproof and NON-CONDUCTIVE through the grille and against the blades - I use a nylon cable tie (not a twist tie, as these have wire in the middle) - if the noise stops, you need a new PSU, if it doesn't then you can open up the case and try momentarily stopping the processor fan blades - if the noise persists, then it is probably the hard drive (or maybe another fan, if you have a high-spec graphics card or a modded case).
Now as I said, it really isn't terribly good advice to go shoving things into the moving blades of a fan, but if you're very careful and you don't stop it for more than a second, the chances of damaging anything are quite small.
12-03-2003, 02:32 PM
Originally posted by micco
... Replacing the power supply is cheap and easy - a couple of screws and a couple of wire connections
One thing I would recommend, however is that you get out your digital camera and take a few pictures of the inside of your computer before you start removing wires.
Nine times out of ten, you won't need the pictures to be able to reconnect the new wires properly. But, that tenth time, it's very useful to have a picture.
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