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PSU shot fire out the back, now w/ new psu case is electric


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#1 LadyMorella

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 03:23 AM

So last week I was on my desktop computer when I heard a fluttering like noise then saw orange flame come out of the back of my power supply. The computer then died.

I bought an Antec 25 earthwatts 650w to replace it. I put the psu in the case and plugged everything in. I started the computer and got nothing. The fans came on and the light on the MB was on. I remembered I had plugged in a hard drive that was set to boot that shouldn't (caused conflict with another HDD that is actually suppose to be the bootable HDD) so I removed the power to it. As I was doing that I noticed that when I touched parts of the case I felt small shocks. It's continuous and very small current. It took me a moment to decide whether I was being shocked or whether I had stabbed myself with a sharp corner. I looked for anything unusual and didn't notice anything. So I shut off the button on the back of the power supply and unplugged it.

1) Seems like my motherboard might be dead since bios didn't even come up. I need to flash the bios to be sure. Figured I'd unplug the video card since it has onboard video and start very basic. If anything comes up I'll work my way up. If my motherboard is dead and my socket is still available what is the chance that the processor is good?

2) Probably more importantly how to I troubleshoot the shocking issue. That can't be good. I have no idea where to even start. I have the PSU plugged into a UPS which is plugged into the wall. All are three pin plugs. I suppose I can have my dad test whether the outlet in the wall is actually grounded. Any tips on troubleshooting the computer shocking? How do I minimize possible damage to components (assuming they aren't all dead) while troubleshooting?

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#2 rotor123

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 04:07 PM

1. You won't be able flash the bios if the computer won't boot.

2. Try unplugging everything from the computer, Then use a voltmeter to measure from it to a known good ground. Wear insulating Gloves until you find the source of the stray voltage. Places like Lowes and Home Depot have outlet testers to determine open ground, reversed hot and neutral etc. Something like this.
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=202867890&storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=202867890&cm_mmc=shopping-_-googlebase-_-D27X-_-202867890

I'm afraid that when the old power supply Blew it damaged parts in the computer and may have damaged things plugged into that are the source of the shock you are feeling.

The major thing that has to happen is find the source of the shock. first step outlet tester. Then for safety if you can get one use a GFI.

Something like this
http://www.amazon.com/TRC-90033-Shockshield-Portable-Protection/dp/B000XVG72G
or this
http://www.homedepot.com/buy/electrical/outlets-plugs/fire-shield/portable-ground-fault-circuit-interrupter-plug-with-surge-protector-63907.html

Your health is more important.

Edited by rotor123, 17 May 2012 - 04:15 PM.

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#3 James Litten

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 04:35 PM

Hi

Please have an electrician look at your home's wiring.

Now for some questions as to whether or not it is the computer.
Are you using a new power cable to plug it into the wall or are you using the same one that you used with your flaming power supply?

I would say to check and make sure something was not shorting the motherboard or drives to the chassis but the system would probably have shutdown long before the PSU burst into flames if that were the case.

Just in case you missed it...
Please have an electrician look at your homes wiring.

At least have someone look at that outlet in particular to test it. It should not cost much to have that much done and maybe you know a friend or family member qualified to do at least that much.

I would not plug ANYTHING into that outlet before having it looked at and would be very wary of any other outlets.

James

EDIT: Just want to make sure that I mention this...
Please have an electrician look at your home's wiring!

Edited by NeverSayDie, 17 May 2012 - 04:45 PM.


#4 rotor123

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 05:27 PM

Hi

Please have an electrician look at your home's wiring.

Now for some questions as to whether or not it is the computer.
Are you using a new power cable to plug it into the wall or are you using the same one that you used with your flaming power supply?

I would say to check and make sure something was not shorting the motherboard or drives to the chassis but the system would probably have shutdown long before the PSU burst into flames if that were the case.

Just in case you missed it...
Please have an electrician look at your homes wiring.

At least have someone look at that outlet in particular to test it. It should not cost much to have that much done and maybe you know a friend or family member qualified to do at least that much.

I would not plug ANYTHING into that outlet before having it looked at and would be very wary of any other outlets.

James

EDIT: Just want to make sure that I mention this...
Please have an electrician look at your home's wiring!

I'm thinking that there may be line voltage there if the poster can feel it just be touching the case.

I'm not sure how I missed suggesting an electrician beyond that I'm a DIY type.

I also suggest the GFCI for anything plugged into a outlet in a basement or Bathroom or Kitchen. Anywhere there is a outlet and water.

Also as James said

James

EDIT: Just want to make sure that I mention this...
Please have an electrician look at your home's wiring!

In the meantime don't use the outlet is really important advice. However I would want to get all the plugs checked since it would be a really rare home that has one outlet per circuit (Circuit breaker)

Edited by rotor123, 17 May 2012 - 05:28 PM.

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#5 LadyMorella

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 11:29 PM

I bought my house less than a year ago. The inspector checked all the outlets. The outlet wasn't grounded. Something I had forgotten about when I plugged my computer into the outlet. I had the computer not plugged in for at least two months after I got my house cause my dad was going to ground it. It didn't get done and forgot that the plug needed grounding.

Just to clarify we are not talking a lot of voltage at all. It took me a moment to realize I was being shocked cause it was that little. However that fact I was being shocked was concerning enough that I unplugged the computer right away instead of trying to troubleshoot my computer which I'd prefer to be doing. The old power supply was a cheap one. I needed one quick and didn't really understand the difference between power supplies other than watts. I thought it was for people who overclocked or something. This time I looked it up since the previous PSU didn't last all that long. Between that and a friend recommendation I bought the Antec. So it's not like I had a name brand psu blown fire out the back. It was only a flicker of flame also. Imagine lighting a match in the wind.

However I have no interest in messing with the computer until my dad can look at the electrical situation. I posted hoping there might be something stupid I hadn't thought of and so I didn't need to wait til sunday for my Dad to come by. :-(

I did use the cable from the PSU that was bad. I didn't see any reason it would be bad. When I unplugged it after the psu died it wasn't hot at all. It didn't smell hot either. The PSU smelled hot of course, but not the cord. There is currently nothing plugged into the outlet. The outlet isn't grounded, but otherwise it is fine I believe. I will have my dad double check.

The voltage on the case is a new symptom. Only after trying to turn on my computer with the new psu did I notice it. Specifically after unplugging one of the hard drives. I suspect something in the computer or somehow a unused cable is maybe making contact with metal in the case? Though I didn't see any cable end from the psu touching metal.

I guess there isn't anything I can do now til Sunday. :-(

#6 James Litten

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 10:57 AM

Thanks for letting us know what's going on.

I witnessed an incident long ago where this happened with an oscilloscope and the instructor was showing off by holding his hand on it while wondering why he was getting shocked. He did not realize that the current was exiting through his leg into the metal leg of the lab bench which was touching a heating pipe against the wall making him a direct path to earth ground. His leg was permanently and very seriously damaged.

Also, the fact that many people have flammable materials near their computer's PSU makes even a spark a frightening occurrence in some situations that I have seen :)

The reason I asked about the AC cable is that if it wasn't the outlet then the ground wire in the AC cable may have been broken and it could have a similar effect and in that case replacing the AC cable would be the solution.

Very happy to hear that you are okay.
James

#7 LadyMorella

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 11:23 AM

Oh wow. That is crazy about the instructor. I don't know much about electronics so I still have a very healthy fear of voltage. :-) I knew better than to keep messing with it at without help.

The AC cable has continuity with all three pins and none leaking. (IE no continuity from the ground to the big slot, big to little etc) Does that mean the cable is good? I'm thinking if it melted somehow (which I'd be surprised if it did) there would be wires connected that shouldn't be. Is this a good test or not?

#8 James Litten

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 11:58 AM

I was thinking it was either the outlet or the cable. Since it looks like the outlet, the cable is probably okay.

Once you've got it fixed, let us know if you are still having any problems with the computer and we'll try to help you troubleshoot it :)

James




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