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Old 08-07-2011, 03:30 PM   #1
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Default How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

At 6:00 am today I was woken up to what I thought was a cannon being blasted off right in front of my window. I went into the other room and my TV was smoking o.O Luckily it was a very old one and wasn't plugged into a surge suppressor, so that's what happens. I'm assuming my house was struck by lightning. Though, what I was really worried about was my computer. The monitor was not responding, even after I hit the space bar and other buttons (it appeared to be in sleep mode, but the power button was staying on and wasn't blinking like it usually does in sleep mode). Also, the mouse and keyboard were on, which worried me so I held the power button down for 3 seconds and it turned off but the keyboard and mouse were still on! So I ended up having to flip the switch off in the back of my PSU off, and that did the trick. Now, I have it plugged into a Belkin 3550 joule surge suppressor that has a $200,000 connected equipment warranty, but I think I have to determine whether or not my system has been damaged or not. Is there a way to professionally tell whether or not it has been damaged, because I'm not going to be able to use that computer knowing it has been damaged, without getting any compensation. Thanks if you read all this and I appreciate the help, thanks.
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

I just tried to start it up for the first time and this is the first thing displayed: Start Up Message picture by ukballer1012 - Photobucket

I just turned off my computer because I didn't know what to do.
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:25 PM   #3
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Default Re: How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

Well, the good news is that your BIOS still works. Basically it is saying that the hardware it detects does not match what it has stored in its own memory. This could be due to a bad keep-alive battery (and the BIOS has therefore gone to default settings) or there is damage to the machine.

I'm inclined to go with the first scenario, as the second is unlikely, though possible.

Turn the machine on, hit F1 to continue, and see if your computer boots up. If there is any indication of damage, then I would recommend pushing for full-replacement of the machine.

If your home wiring was struck by lightning, you can count on the surge-suppressor being bad, so you will have to invest in a new one. Small price to pay if it sacrificed itself to save your computer and data, though. Belkin may be interested in examining the old suppressor... you might want to contact them even if your computer is fine.
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Old 08-07-2011, 10:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

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Originally Posted by ukballer1012 View Post
Is there a way to professionally tell whether or not it has been damaged, because I'm not going to be able to use that computer knowing it has been damaged, without getting any compensation.
Professionals (long before an IBM PC even existed) start with critical power system voltages. In your case, important voltages, measured by a multimeter (in 20 VDC scale), would be from any one purple, red, orange, and yellow wires. Report those numbers (to three digits) to exonerate or identify many components of the power system (more than just a PSU).

Next, use default settings as the BIOS requests. Then try to boot either from the manufacturer's comprehensive hardware diagnostics on the hard drive, or from those diagnostics provided on a CD-Rom, or from the manufacturer web site. If your machine is not from a better manufacturer, then they did not share their hardware diagnostic, for free, with you. Meaning the diagnostic procedure is longer - involves more labor.

Meanwhile, read Belkin's specs. It does not claim surge protection. Experience from free markets teaches that products with the biggest warranties are often the most inferior. If that Belkin does protection preached by hearsay, then you can post Belkin numbers that define protection from each type of surge. Many well proven solutions provided by more responsible companies are available for less money; so that even direct lightning strikes do not damage a protector. But those are another topic.

The process of finding what is and is not harmed starts with what professionals have done for generations. Anything can act defective or strange if those voltage numbers are not first confirmed. Comprehensive hardware diagnostic is a best way to quickly identify any defective or marginal hardware. Other solutions can be recommended once these first facts are known.
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

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Professionals (long before an IBM PC even existed) start with critical power system voltages. In your case, important voltages, measured by a multimeter (in 20 VDC scale), would be from any one purple, red, orange, and yellow wires. Report those numbers (to three digits) to exonerate or identify many components of the power system (more than just a PSU).
Could anyone show me how to do this? I have a multimeter and all the equipment but I need more detailed instructions before I do something like this. You could tell me here or just link me a site that shows how to test if each component is getting the right amount of voltage and if they aren't already damaged. If I'm correct, I believe the system voltage should be at 3.3 volts. Anyways, thanks for the help!
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

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Could anyone show me how to do this? I have a multimeter and all the equipment but I need more detailed instructions before I do something like this.
Set a multimeter to the 20 VDC scale. Attach its black lead to the chassis. Locate a purple wire from the PSU to where it attaches to the motherboard. Push the red probe into the nylon connector to touch the electrical conductor. Read something like 5 volts on the meter. Record that number to 3 digits.

Purple wire will provide a voltage when AC power cord is connected to a wall receptacle and computer is powered off.

Next measure the green and gray wire both before and when the power switch is pressed. For example, the green wire will be something less than 5. And drop to something above 0. But the three digit numbers are relevant.

And finally measure any one red, orange, and yellow wire as the power switch is pressed. What those voltages do and what it settles at will provide a definitive reply.
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Old 08-10-2011, 12:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

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Set a multimeter to the 20 VDC scale. Attach its black lead to the chassis. Locate a purple wire from the PSU to where it attaches to the motherboard. Push the red probe into the nylon connector to touch the electrical conductor. Read something like 5 volts on the meter. Record that number to 3 digits.

Purple wire will provide a voltage when AC power cord is connected to a wall receptacle and computer is powered off.

Next measure the green and gray wire both before and when the power switch is pressed. For example, the green wire will be something less than 5. And drop to something above 0. But the three digit numbers are relevant.

And finally measure any one red, orange, and yellow wire as the power switch is pressed. What those voltages do and what it settles at will provide a definitive reply.
I shouldn't be doing this with an electro-static wrist band on, should I? Because wouldn't the charge be carried to my wrist?
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Old 08-10-2011, 12:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

Yes, you should not use a static wrist-band when working on live equipment.

Red should be 5vdc, Yellow is 12vdc and Orange 3.3vdc. +/- 10% generally.
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Old 08-10-2011, 01:11 PM   #9
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Default Re: How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

I just want to thank you everyone for helping me out with this. And also, when you say when the power switch is pressed, do you mean just while the computers on or measure the voltage right when I turn it on?

Anyways, I had to set my multimeter to 10DC V (it didn't have a 20 setting but im sure it doesnt matter, as long as it's set over the voltage range you're looking for) and the purple wire leading to the motherboard read to 5.00V mark exactly (I'm not using a multimeter with digital display, so it might be off by .01 or so) when the both turned off and on.
The green wire read 4.40V (with the computer turned off) and it read ~.050V (with the computer on).
The gray wire read 0.00 volts (with the computer turned off) and it read 4.70V (with the computer turned on.)
And, while the computer was on, one red (which looked sort of pink) read 5.00V, one yellow read 11.5 V, and one orange read 3.20V.
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Old 08-10-2011, 03:24 PM   #10
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Default Re: How to tell if your computer has had electrical damage?

Are these recorded voltages right and everything recorded is working as it should be? Also, all I'd have to check would be the wires going into the motherboard since everything is connected through it, right? Also, I have a Radeon HD 5770 GPU, I heard that sudden power offs can be fatal for these kind of cards. Is this true? If so explain in detail.

The only one thing that wasn't working (at least the only thing I noticed) was the wired networking. I had a cat6 ethernet cable plugged into my computer and it isn't even recognizing it. I can't seem to tell whether or not it's the wireless router/RJ45 hub or my computer. The router is working for every other device so I don't know.
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