We had a scare one Saturday afternoon…
The power director (switch box) for my wife’s computer, monitor, printer, etc. had a problem — the rocker part of one of the rocker switches fell out. Without thinking, my wife plugged it back in — FLASH! Sparks!
Three computers shut down instantly, despite their UPS systems.
Needless to say, she unplugged her power director from its UPS.
I got home a couple hours later (I was leading the Web Design Special Interest Group at the Cajun Clickers Computer Club), so the panic was over. The only question would be "What’s ruined or damaged?"
First, I tried to turn on my Windows XP desktop and my Linux box (CentOS v4.4, which acts mainly as a file storage / backup machine, which we can access via Windows File & Printer Sharing just as if it was another Windows computer).
But, my desktop and my Linux computer didn’t want to turn on.
At this point, I’m not sure what the problem was with either. When I tried the desktop, it powered on just fine. The Linux box didn’t — not a hint of power.
Then, it was time to look at the one I was really worried about — hers! For testing, I used a heavy gauge extension cord, from a separate electrical circuit across the room, and a surge protector. I plugged in her computer and peripherals and flipped the On switch. Yea! It all appeared to work just fine — at least the computer booted into Windows and her LCD monitor worked.
I disconnected the Linux computer, moved it to my workbench, opened it and used canned air to blow out the dust. The power supply and the CPU’s heat sink both were quite dusty. Then, I plugged it in on my workbench, connected it to a monitor, keyboard, mouse and Ethernet cable, and it powered on almost perfectly.
One cooling fan made a lot of noise, which it hadn’t before. Of course, this computer had run without rebooting for several months, so the fan bearings had probably worn out during that time (this wouldn’t be a power-related problem).
So, fortunately, I get to replace a cheap power switch box and a cheap fan — and don’t have major computer repairs facing me.