5 Replies Latest reply: Jul 27, 2006 12:06 AM by mhunter
indomac Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
My brother has a year old iMac G5 rev B, and while dropping by on him a few days ago, I saw him cleaning up his unit. I noticed that when he opened up the machine (apparently this is doable on that particular model) the insides were quite dusty and grimy---specifically the fans and the vents that conduct airflow, were dotted with dustballs, preventing a clear path for cooling. He says he does this every three months or so to maintain the machine...

My question is: How do we do this on my intel iMac? Obviously, I cannot just open it like the G5, but I'm worried that dust could accumulate and restrict airflow and cooling in the long run. If my brother's can gather this much dust and dirt in three months, then I'm worried that my intel iMac might be just as worse by now...

I mean, do I have to take it in to a service center for something so simple?

Mac OS X (10.4.7), iMac Intel Core Duo
  • mhunter Level 6 Level 6 (9,185 points)

    The Intel iMacs and the iMac G5 with iSight are not designed to allow the consumer to open them.

    They can be opened, but it requires prying them open from the seam on their sides. Most likely you would do some damage without the right tools.

    And, it is very, very likely that Apple would know you were in there, and may void your warranty.

    This little fact has been argued over and over again here in the forums. But, quite simply, the only way to insure that your warranty remains in-tact on the newer models is to stay out of them.

    This does present a natural problem in regards to regular cleaning and maintenance. And, that is one major strike against them in my opinion.

    The previous iMac G5 revisions were designed to permit the end-user to open them and service them. But, the newer ones did away with that policy.

    So, if you want to clean it out (which you should do periodically), the only option that keeps your warranty in-tact is to take it into a service center for cleaning.

    I'm sorry I couldn't give you better news. But, that's the way it is.

    I hope this helps.

    P.S., if you'd like, go ahead and click the "Helpful" or "Solved" buttons on any of the posts / replies above if you feel they were helpful or adequately answered your question.
  • indomac Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Yes, I know all about the fact that you cannot open the models with the built in iSight without voiding the warranty.

    To make my previous question more specific: Other than going to a service center, will simply vacuuming the vents on the exterior of the machine on a regular basis help keep my machine dust free inside? In other words, will vacuuming directly on the outside vents clear out the dustballs from inside the machine (meaning the inner vents and the fans)?

    On another note, does anybody know how much a service center would charge for internal cleaning of the machine on a regular basis---or, even better, will Apple Care cover this type of service?

  • mhunter Level 6 Level 6 (9,185 points)

    Short of opening the computer, vacuuming it is about the only option.

    But, you should remember that vacuums tend to create a static field. And static is the number-one enemy of computers.

    So, while the case may seem to be isolated from the computer, consider that the vacuums are made of plastic, and that their plastic holds static. So, it is not too far of a stretch to imagine the possibility of static transferring to your computer's case and discharging on some of the components.

    Generally speaking, it has always been advised not to use a vacuum to clean a computer.

    There are some specialized computer vacuums. But, they are generally very low-powered. And, will not work on anything but direct contact with the dust.

    Further, even if you did use a vacuum cleaner to suck on the vents, it would not be likely to clean out the dirt and dust inside the computer and on the fan blades. It may get the dust that is immediately on the vent grill though. But, you could do that much with a damp towel.

    I've spent a lot of time cleaning computers, and yes I have done some with various sorts of vacuums. And from my experience a vacuum is not very effective and is a high-risk cleaner.

    The only thing that really works well is either compressed-air; or if you can get directly on the surface, electronic detailing wands / scrub pads (these are basically sticks with scrubbing pads on them that are designed for scrubbing the surface of logic-boards, between chips, and tops of chips).

    I think you really are limited to either voiding your warranty or paying Apple to open the computer and clean it.

    Neither the standard warranty or the AppleCare warranty cover maintenance or cleaning. They are specifically repair warranties.

    Some companies like Sears will sell a maintenance plan that includes opening the computer and cleaning it annually. And, their warranty will also cover repairs for equipment failure. But, Sears stopped selling Apple products a few years back.

    So, you are pretty limited in options here.

    About all you can do is pay to have it done, or do it yourself and take a chance on the warranty.

    You can use compressed-air from the outside to try and remove dust. But, in most cases, you'll only succeed in pushing it further inside the case.

    I wish I could tell you something better. But, there just isn't a good option here.

    I remember considering this fact when I purchased my last iMac G5 revision B. I purchased it after the iMac G5 iSight was available, and the ability to open and clean the computer was a factor that steered me towards the revision B as opposed to the iSight version.

    I hope this helps.
  • indomac Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Bummer... All that added cost and the trouble of bringing it in just for a simple task.

    But thanks a lot, mhunter, for the patience and the responses.

    By the way, have you ever brought your unit in for a cleaning service? Any idea how long I have to leave the machine there, and how much it costs? I'm seriously thinking about it as I'm a bit concerned beacuse my brother's G5 looked quite dirty and clogged after three months...
  • mhunter Level 6 Level 6 (9,185 points)

    You're welcome.

    I purchased the revision B model, so I just cleaned it myself when needed.

    The newer models have much more complex parts arrangements. So, I don't know what it might take. But, I imagine an experienced person who knows that model could probably do it in an hour or less. If it's not very dirty, then probably less.

    You might ask to watch so you can see about how dirty it is. That might give you an idea of how regular you might need to have it done.

    I hope this helps.