Capacitors are electronic components that store the electric charge and release it as and when required. These capacitors are available in various sizes and types, and they are used for the conditioning, smoothing, and isolating the signals. To sum it up, capacitors act like tiny batteries. These capacitors have many applications. One of the main applications is that they are used in a computer’s power supply. There are tiny capacitors that are of ceramic and tantalum that are built on the outside of the chip package, or they surround the chip on the motherboard.
When your desktop computer is running slower than usual, there is a chance that the capacitor in the motherboard may have failed. Not only the slow running but one can also detect a fault in the capacitor if the desktop computer randomly or constantly freezes up or restarts. Or it may also happen that it doesn’t boot to the operating system or in some extreme cases, does not boot at all. These are the signals that your desktop computer may have a failed capacitor. And that is the standard procedure to check what might be wrong with the computers. Most of the times, when you take your computer to a repair shop, the first thing they do is check for failed capacitors. With a quick gaze at the motherboard, they can easily spot for a failed capacitor. But here is how you can check your own computer for failed capacitors.
The capacitors are generally all-electrolyte, so the reason for the failure of the capacitor is that the non-solid electrolyte ages over a period of time, and there is evaporation of the electrolyte.
Now, checking the computer for a failed capacitor is easy. You do not have to tear the system apart and take a look at the motherboard to check for a failed capacitor. You will first check the symptoms, and if the symptoms fall in place, then you can open up the system and check the capacitors. So here are the symptoms for a failed capacitor. Check if your computer has the following problems:
- It is running slow
- The computer randomly freezes up
- You are working, and the computer randomly or constantly restarts
- The computer won’t boot to the operating system
- The computer won’t start at all
If you are facing any of these problems on your computer, you might have to take a look inside the computer for a failed capacitor.
Now before you know how to check the computer for bad capacitors, you must first know the types of capacitors that are used in the computers.
There are mainly two kinds of capacitors used in computers. They are
- water-based electrolyte
- polymer-based electrolyte capacitors,
Out of which most of the times the water-based electrolyte capacitors fail. Now that you know the basic two types, you can open the computer to check for the failed capacitors. But before you open the computer, make sure you know which wire is connected where, or simply just click pictures of it so that you can assemble the computer later with ease.
Follow the following steps to check your computer for failed capacitors
- Power down your computer, remove the power cord from the back of the power supply or simply just disconnect all the cables.
- Open the case
- Make sure to remove any obstructions like the fan shrouds so that you can view the entire motherboard easily and other add-in cards.
- Now, using a flashlight visually inspect the motherboard for any signs of failed capacitors. Inspect the circuits on the motherboard carefully; you may also have to remove some of the cards to inspect them.
- The visual symptoms of a failed capacitor may include bulging or cracking of vent on the top, the casing might be crooked as the base may have been pushed out, there are chances that the electrolyte may have leaked on the motherboard, the case is detached or is missing
These were some of the symptoms that the capacitor in the motherboard of your computer may have failed. And this failure is causing all the problems you are facing like the slow running of the computer or freezing up. So the obvious next step is what to do if you find a bad capacitor?
So if you do find a failed capacitor in the computer, the first thing you must do is back-up all the data from your computer while the computer is still working; if you don’t so that, there is a chance that you might lose all the data. The second option is to repair the motherboard. You can repair the motherboard by yourself or seek professional help. If the damage is not repairable, you might have to replace the motherboard. While doing so, make sure the new capacitors are in good working condition because it many times happens so that the companies fix faulty capacitors on the motherboard. And the last option is to replace the computers. If you were going to buy a new computer and were looking for a reason to buy a new one, you just found one.
So these were the ways in which you could check if your computer has a failed capacitor and do you need to replace it with a new capacitor or a new computer. Following these simple steps to check your computer of any failed capacitors, you can also save yourself some money it would have cost had you taken it to a computer repair shop. So the next time your computer slows down, or randomly restarts or does not start at all, you know exactly why. And the next time you see any of these symptoms in your computer, the first thing you must do is secure all your data while the computer still works, because if the computer stops working abruptly, you will at least have your data secured.