Consoles, dust, and living in an old rental with no AC

Last year, my first xbox 360 stopped playing games and movies. I had purchased it at Costco and remember hearing something tiny rattling around inside when I first took it out of the box. But when I plugged it in and put in disks, it worked just fine so I kept it. About 8 months later was when it stopped playing games or movies.

We live in the country up in the Santa Cruz mountains with no air conditioner, therefore, our windows have pretty much stayed open all summer for the 2 summer’s we’ve lived in this house. There is a short section of our long driveway that is dirt, about 50 yards from our front door. Our landlords have 4 horses that are kept about 20 yards from our front door. We don’t have clouds of dust billowing through our windows, but there pretty much a constant low level amount coming in, I have no doubt.

I took on a little DIY project of trying to de-dust my first xbox. This led me to crack the seal and attempt to disassemble it and blow off as much as I could reach. This did not go well, and though I was successful at following tips and tricks to take it apart without breaking anything (and found the small plastic bit that had been rattling around since I’d bought it) but it never went back together quite right, and I ended up giving it to a friend for spare parts. (He couldn’t fix it either).

So we bought another one and just slapped the old hard drive on it. So far so good on the new one, but we eventually went on to get a PS3 as well. Now the PS3 is pulling the same crap. No playing or recognizing dvds or blueray disks or games. It had a pretty decent schmear of dust on it when I unplugged everything and gave it a superficial look-over.

I am getting very tired of my expensive entertainment toys going tits-up on me. Do I need to admit that our current living conditions just aren’t conducive to consoles? Am I correct in my assumption that this behavior is caused by dust clogging or otherwise interfering with the hardware?

We’ve discussed getting a window unit, but this house is 100 years old and there is some debate as to whether or not the electrical environment will even be able to handle a window unit in the bedroom. I really don’t want to buy, install, and attempt to turn on an AC unit just to end up blowing my fuse box out of the wall and accidentally burning the place down. Then there’s the whole issue of how much it will increase our electric bill in order to be comfortable and yet keep the windows closed. Then there’s the doubt that a single window unit AC will functionally cool anything but the room it is in, no matter how creative we get with fans and trying to circulate the cool air around the rest of the house.

Is there anything else I can do to prevent dust from gumming up the guts of my consoles?

Build a fan ventilated case for the consoles. Put filters on the intake fans. Use filters that can be cleaned and reused. Make sure you have enough air flow to keep the units from overheating.

Have you tried a lens cleaning disc?

I have to run one on my PC’s slot-fed drive every few months or it stops mounting discs.

I will try this, but it seems like the built-in cooling fans are part (or perhaps the ultimate source) of the problem. They gradually seem to go from blowing loud all the time all summer to not really blowing much at all.

If the lens cleaning doesn’t do it, I’ll send it away for cleaning/repair and try and build a container of some kind.

Have you tried blowing out the fans regularly with canned air?

Even cd readers in non dusty environments need a lens cleaning disk sometimes. I think you have a good chance of success using one.