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BN Editor
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Registered: ‎10-20-2006
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Your PC: Safety Tips and the Tools You'll Need

[ Edited ]
Safety First

Good troubleshooting is safe troubleshooting. Whenever you work on your PC you should never put yourself or those around you in any danger.

Always shut down and unplug a PC before starting work on it -- never risk working on a PC that has power flowing through it. Disconnect the power cord from the power supply unit at the rear of the unit.

The golden rule of PC repair is "If in any doubt, don't!" Don't take any risks, shortcuts or do anything that you are uncertain about. If at any time you are uncertain about what you're doing, stop and seek help from a professional.

Never dismantle a monitor. These can hold lethal charges even after being unplugged for months. Leave all monitors to the professionals.

Never dismantle a computer power supply unit (PSU). If you suspect that you have a PC with a defective PSU, replace the unit.

Work in a clear area, away from children and pets.

Keep liquids away from the work area.

Don't wear loose clothing as it can catch on components or cables and cause a lot of damage.

If you have long hair, tie it back and keep it out of the way.

If possible, take off all your jewelry (rings, earrings, necklaces). If you can't (or don't want to) take off rings, cover them with a little insulating tape.

Be careful with small, metallic items like paperclips and screws. One of these left in a system can cause a lot of damage in a very short space of time.

Be organized! Make sure that you have all the tools you need within easy reach.

Keep all components in their antistatic bag (the foil bag that most components are supplied in) until they are needed. This protects them from damage by static discharges. TIP: A good way to keep track of small items is to stick them into a blob of Elmer's Putty modeling clay or plasticine.

Workshop Safety

Working on your PC has an element of risk associated with it. It would be wrong of me not to give you a head's up to the risks involved, along with a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself:

Eyes. Medical science is a wonderful thing, but repairing broken eyes is neither easy nor guaranteed and quite definitely not pain free. Even though you are not grinding or cutting things, there is still a significant risk of eye damage from flying springs or accidentally hitting your eye against a sharp corner or burred edge. PCs also have a lot of dust in them that is easily made airborne; so rather than risk a foreign object in the eye, it's better to protect your eyes with a decent pair of safety spectacles.

Skin. Great stuff -- soft, supple, and semi-permeable. It is also strong until it reaches a breaking point, whereupon it leaks. Sharp edges and corners of a PC case can easily cut. Small bits of wire can puncture the skin and be very painful. Care is what is needed here, as well as checking the case for sharp edges in advance. There are no parts of the human body that are resistant to heat. Don't work on a PC that's just been on. Better to give the system 10 minutes to cool down before beginning work. The dust that a PC picks up is also an irritant and can affect some people more than others. If you are affected by this, consider thin rubber gloves or barrier cream. Loose clothing and long hair can and will snag. Usually it snags on the most expensive component or fastest moving fan possible. Keep loose hair and clothes well out of the way.

Lungs. Again, hard to repair if you damage them. Computers can be very dusty, and this will affect some people more than others. If you have allergies such as asthma, rhinitis, or hay fever, you might want to consider wearing a dust mask -- the kind designed to protect while sanding, for sale in most hardware stores. The PC Repair Toolkit

You don't need a lot of tools to carry out your own PC repairs. In fact, you can usually get away with two things: A #2 Phillips crosspoint screwdriver (non-magnetic is best), and an anti-static wrist strap (this is a wrist strap that you wear to prevent damage to components from the discharge of static).

Don't underestimate the need for an ESD (electrostatic discharge) wrist strap. As you move, your body is generating huge amounts of electrostatic energy (equivalent to thousands of volts). While this is completely harmless to us, a small zap of ESD is enough to kill a RAM module, CPU, motherboard or other PC electronics. An ESD strap is inexpensive yet offers good protection from these dangers.

There are a few other cheap items you can pick up to help make PC repair easier:

  • Flashlight (preferably a plastic one. A metal one is too heavy and can cause a lot of damage if dropped into the PC)
  • Needle nosed pliers
  • Small container (to hold screws and such)
  • Tweezers (very handy for retrieving small items that have fallen out of reach!)
  • Multimeter (if you know how to use one, a multimeter which can measure Volts (AC and DC) and Ohms can be very useful indeed)
  • Plastic ties (for securing cables. Never use wire ties because they can cut into the cable, and don't use tape because this makes a sticky mess!)

You've probably already got most if not all these tools. Go ahead and assemble together your PC repair toolkit today!


  1. Where are you planning to have your "PC operating room"?
  2. Do you have the tools for a PC toolkit or are you going to buy some?

Message Edited by BookClubEditor on 12-26-2006 01:58 PM

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 88
Registered: ‎10-21-2006
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Re: Safety Tips and the Tools You'll Need

The one tool that any PC Doctor needs is a #2 Phillips screwdriver. This is the "universal" PC repair tool. With this you can open the case, add and remove drives, remove the motherboard and PSU and put the system back together again.

If you don't buy anything else, make sure that you get yourself a good quality Phillips screwdriver.

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