Causing short circuit on a motherboard produces undesirable results

Posted on 2004-10-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-05

Two days ago I did something very stupid and to this day I wonder why I did it! I was replacing the chipset fan with the computer still ON(!!) and the two metal connectors (I had removed the plastic plug) touched each other, there was a spark and the computer turned off.

I tried to turn it on again, but it would turn off automatically 3 seconds later.

I was despaired so I left it off and left the room. Later I tried it again and to my surprise it booted properly and Windows started loading.

I logged in but then the PC froze. Resetting the computer and trying again, finally got me inside Windows. Everything seemed to work fine, but a few seconds later it froze again. A new reset and login and I was back.

Ever since my ingenious replacement, when I went to Windows GigaStudio would ask me if I wanted to disable all GigaStudio related drivers and I clicked on YES, thinking that since I'm recovering from such a problem last thing I need is GigaStudio. I don't know if it's related, but every time I'd disable the drivers the PC would freeze later on.

If I never clicked anything on that dialog box or even NO, the computer would work properly (by that I mean that it wouldn't freeze, I didn't try it for any real use).

I tried playing a song with Winamp, and it froze again. This is where I gave up.

That made me wonder if my sound card was at fault somehow, although it didn't seem very likely. I think that I have utterly destroyed the motherboard, although I can't prove it.

Any ideas/recommendations/solutions?

Thank you in advance!
Question by:-saturn-

Expert Comment

ID: 12280074
it sounds more like a windows error rather than a hardware falt. try a clean install of windows it should eather alow your computer to run perfectly with the sound card or run without the sound card without giving you a cold shiver on ur system.

Author Comment

ID: 12280435
Thank you for your answer l33t_midgit.

The problem is that I already tried installing Windows XP from a boot CD and the computer froze at the point where the installation said "Starting Windows", which is why I'm afraid it's not software related.
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 12283745
It’s possible for a short on the motherboard to short out a card. So you could have a problem with the sound card. What I would do is remove it and see if your problems goes away.

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Expert Comment

ID: 12285665
It sounds likely that the motherboard is where the problem lies.  What I would then do if is to remove all un-neccesary hardware from the PC and just leave the graphics card, memory, CPU and hard disk attached to the motherboard and see if the PC works without crashing.  If it does then you know it's one of the removed items e.g. sound card/network card etc, to determine which one add each bit of hardware back in one at a time and test the PC to see when crashing occurs.  If the PC does still crash then you have a problem with either the motherboard, CPU, Hard disk or the memory, but from what you have said about sparks etc I would suggest it's the motherboard which will need replacing.

Accepted Solution

pcmomof6 earned 750 total points
ID: 12293364
Hi -saturn-,
Do you have another cpu that you can try because since thats the area it sparked at it might be processor that is going bad.  


Author Comment

ID: 12295567
Hi everyone.

I took the soundcard off and now I'm running a burn-in test from SiSoft Sandra 2003 and I'll let you know. From pcmomof6's comment though I guess that everything could be at stake here!

Author Comment

ID: 12297580
I ran the test 20 times in a row and everything went fine. Does that exclude the CPU being destroyed?

I tried running Sonar (a music sequencer program) and the computer restarted without any warning. I don't think that just because the sound card wasn't found it should have acted like that though!

Is there a way to make sure it's the motherboard that's at fault?

Expert Comment

ID: 12356600
The only way to be sure is to put all the other parts onto a different motherboard and see if the problem stops. Or by testing the cpu,ram,video, and power supply by changing them out with another one, one by one until your problem is solved. While you are doing the testing don't have anything else hooked up thats not necessary like the hdd or floppy , etc. Also make sure you try a new power cord because you never can tell sometimes faulty cords can do the same thing.

Expert Comment

ID: 12356615
Oh I almost forgot. Make sure that sound card, modem, or anything else thats not needed. Especially try swapping sound card with another sound card and rerunning the Sonar to see if problem continues.If you don't have the extra parts to swap with then you might have to break down and buy them and then taking back the parts that you didn't need.

Author Comment

ID: 12357055
Well, having the system run under normal circumstances for the past week, I think I came to the following conclusions:

1. Nothing was really burned or destroyed during the short circuit (or seems that way)
2. The computer would freeze or restart out of the blue, something which usually is the processor's fault.
3. Following pcmomof6's advice to test another CPU on the motherboard, I took off the old one and I was about to put it in another computer to test it, when I noticed that when I had recently replaced the fan/cooler, I had installed it backwards, so that half of the processor's surface was OFF the cooler and into space (stupid AMD coolers...). I put the CPU back in and measured a temperature of 89C which makes me glad the processor didn't get toasted before.

So, what I did in the end, was to apply a new layer of Arctic Silver on the processor and install the cooler, properly this time.

Ever since then, the computer has been running smoothly.

Since, pcmomof6 was the only one to suggest a look of the CPU, I'm going to accept his answer.

Nevertheless, I'd like to help everyone who helped for their time!

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