+ Post New Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 22
Hardware Thread, PC won't boot when it's cold in Technical; I've just come back from visiting the outlaws and my father-in-law tells me he has been having problems with his ...
  1. #1

    elsiegee40's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Kent
    Posts
    10,038
    Thank Post
    1,894
    Thanked 2,365 Times in 1,742 Posts
    Rep Power
    831

    Question PC won't boot when it's cold

    I've just come back from visiting the outlaws and my father-in-law tells me he has been having problems with his Dell (XP home SP2) PC. On cold mornings, his PC won't boot. He says says he gets a message "something about thermal" (It's great isn't it? Vague messages even from the family!)

    The outlaws live in a fairly standard centrally-heated bungalow, the heating is off at night, but even so it doesn't get that cold. The power to the PC is switched off at the wall overnight.

    Anyone got any ideas please?

    I'm not going to get overly stressed about this. He says the problem isn't happeing so often now the weather's got warmer. The bit that concerns me is my father-in-law using a hairdryer to warm it up until it will boot.

  2. #2


    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Northamptonshire
    Posts
    4,701
    Thank Post
    352
    Thanked 805 Times in 720 Posts
    Rep Power
    348
    I'll be honest, I've never seen one which will actually give a message when it's too cold to boot! - I've seen machines that won't boot up whilst cold (random errors, etc) but this is a new one on me.

  3. #3

    Michael's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Birmingham
    Posts
    9,297
    Thank Post
    242
    Thanked 1,586 Times in 1,263 Posts
    Rep Power
    344
    Cold boot problems are generally caused by motherboard failure, or the early signs of motherboard failure.

  4. Thanks to Michael from:

    elsiegee40 (15th March 2009)

  5. #4
    torledo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    2,928
    Thank Post
    168
    Thanked 155 Times in 126 Posts
    Rep Power
    48
    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    I've just come back from visiting the outlaws and my father-in-law tells me he has been having problems with his Dell (XP home SP2) PC. On cold mornings, his PC won't boot. He says says he gets a message "something about thermal" (It's great isn't it? Vague messages even from the family!)

    The outlaws live in a fairly standard centrally-heated bungalow, the heating is off at night, but even so it doesn't get that cold. The power to the PC is switched off at the wall overnight.

    Anyone got any ideas please?

    I'm not going to get overly stressed about this. He says the problem isn't happeing so often now the weather's got warmer. The bit that concerns me is my father-in-law using a hairdryer to warm it up until it will boot.
    that's not as daft as it sounds....i've had dodgy laptop power bricks that needed to be heated up before they would work. A five minute blast under the heat of an air conditioning unit would do it in no time, sans a/c it would require one of those dimplex jobbies being turned up to maximum or for the power supply to be held on top of an oil rad for about 10 minutes. normally centrally heated room would no do, it had to be fairly direct heat.

    i've had that happen to two power bricks now. very strange.

  6. #5

    synaesthesia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Northamptonshire
    Posts
    6,347
    Thank Post
    611
    Thanked 1,129 Times in 863 Posts
    Blog Entries
    15
    Rep Power
    496
    What sort of Dell is it?

    I'd hazard a guess at it being an Optiplex GX260/270 type:

    http://www.zdnet.de/graphics/reviews...iplex260_1.jpg

    or

    http://wwwnew.towson.edu/classroomte...x%20GX260_.jpg

    If so, pop open the cover and take a look at the mainboard, specifically the capacitors around the processor (cylindrical tower objects just in case you're not technical, I dont know so please don't take offence if you are!). They should be entirely flat on top, it's quite likely they are bulging or have brown stuff on top/around them, meaning they're blown and not doing their job, causing system instability and very commonly the message your inlaws are receiving.

    If so, you've a few options.

    1. Replace the capacitors, lets hope you're good with a soldering iron
    2. Replace the PC and hope the inlaws have a wallet to suit.
    3. Soldier on and put up with it. As drastic as it seems, I've seen Dell machine soldier own with this symptom and blown capacitors for years without any further sideeffects. It WILL be causing "distress" to other parts of the PC but if it is one of these, it's fairly end of lifespan anyway and won't be the end of the world if it "only" lasts another year. It could pop entirely next week, but it's a matter of luck.

  7. Thanks to synaesthesia from:

    elsiegee40 (15th March 2009)

  8. #6

    elsiegee40's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Kent
    Posts
    10,038
    Thank Post
    1,894
    Thanked 2,365 Times in 1,742 Posts
    Rep Power
    831
    Quote Originally Posted by synaesthesia View Post
    (cylindrical tower objects just in case you're not technical, I dont know so please don't take offence if you are!).
    Absolutely none whatsoever taken!

    In this case i could have identified the components, but it's always helpful to have a simple explanation for when the brain isn't in gear or for someone else reading the thread who's having the same problem and doesn't know what they're looking for.

    I'll take a look inside the case when I'm over there next.

  9. #7

    witch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Dorset
    Posts
    11,349
    Thank Post
    1,489
    Thanked 2,573 Times in 1,789 Posts
    Rep Power
    774
    Let us know if it is the capacitors
    Shame I'm not nearer - dab hand with a soldering iron, me!

  10. #8

    synaesthesia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Northamptonshire
    Posts
    6,347
    Thank Post
    611
    Thanked 1,129 Times in 863 Posts
    Blog Entries
    15
    Rep Power
    496
    Aye, come from a hardware engineering and technical background and as you can tell have spent many an hour with these particular units Shamefully I don't get the time at home to play too much these days - and more to the point I don't want to get out my soldering irons with a very, very curious 7 month old on the loose!

    It's not a hugely difficult job as long as you know what you're replacing, just fiddly unless you've got exactly the right gear to hand.

  11. #9
    rad
    rad is offline
    rad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Middlesex
    Posts
    2,546
    Thank Post
    343
    Thanked 323 Times in 245 Posts
    Rep Power
    113
    Had a printer that would only work when it had warmed up. I think though that was more to the paper been damp!

    The guy who worked in a warehouse had to warm his paper up on his oil heater just so it could print his orders for the guys to pick!

  12. #10

    FN-GM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    16,309
    Thank Post
    901
    Thanked 1,797 Times in 1,548 Posts
    Blog Entries
    12
    Rep Power
    466
    Sounds something like my old computer. The fan used to be very load in cold weather.

  13. #11

    SYNACK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    11,268
    Thank Post
    884
    Thanked 2,747 Times in 2,321 Posts
    Blog Entries
    11
    Rep Power
    785
    If it was giving a thermal warning then it should not be the capacitors, A thermal warning would require a sensor in the system to be reporting temperature values outside the acceptable range. Given the workable range of the average CPU there is almost never a low value implemented which would stop it and so it is probably a sensor fault. These sensors are basic variable resistors which change their resistance based on the temperature that they are exposed to.

    Given the nature of the materials involved in electronics it is no surprise that certain hardware fails when it is cold. As it gets colder the metal contracts and so if the solder is damaged a small crack can expand and break the circuit or at least make it unreliable.

    If there was a thermal warning there it is more likely that it was an overheat warning which could have been caused by this contraction problem affecting one of the sensors thereby increasing the resistance and making the reported temperature much higher than the actual one.

    The fault may be the fault of a single solder joint embedded on the motherboard or perhaps a faulting sensor in the CPU. Tracking it down would probably require the full error message and for the BIOS to be helpful regarding which sensor was throwing the error. The 'fix' may be as simple as disabling the temperature shutdown settings in the BIOS.

  14. Thanks to SYNACK from:

    elsiegee40 (16th March 2009)

  15. #12

    synaesthesia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Northamptonshire
    Posts
    6,347
    Thank Post
    611
    Thanked 1,129 Times in 863 Posts
    Blog Entries
    15
    Rep Power
    496
    I mentioned the caps as it's first most apparent symptom on the optiplexes (other than not working at all in severe cases) was thermal protection error messages. Why that's the case I don't know, but I've experience of probably circa 500 of those machines with that fault to go by
    Of course the more possibilities we can cover the better though.

  16. #13
    fiendishlyclever's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Nottingham
    Posts
    177
    Thank Post
    27
    Thanked 28 Times in 25 Posts
    Rep Power
    17
    I've got a pc that needs to be plugged in for a while before you power it up. If you boot it up as soon as you flick on the power you get a warning about the CPU fan not being quick enough (with an awful noise). If you leave it plugged in for a while this doesn't happen.

    Yes I know it needs a new CPU fan, but I also find this problem interesting in a sad way.

  17. #14

    elsiegee40's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Kent
    Posts
    10,038
    Thank Post
    1,894
    Thanked 2,365 Times in 1,742 Posts
    Rep Power
    831
    Quote Originally Posted by fiendishlyclever View Post
    I've got a pc that needs to be plugged in for a while before you power it up. If you boot it up as soon as you flick on the power you get a warning about the CPU fan not being quick enough (with an awful noise). If you leave it plugged in for a while this doesn't happen.

    Yes I know it needs a new CPU fan, but I also find this problem interesting in a sad way.
    I have one exactly like that at my school - leave it plugged into the mains for an hour before booting and it's fine.

    I must admit, I have been wondering if leaving the mains on for my inlaw's PC might be enough to boot it in the mornings.

    This feels more like a car problem from the 1970s than a computer problem! Memories of the clothes peg holding the choke out on my old mini!

  18. #15
    chrbb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Midlands
    Posts
    1,509
    Thank Post
    141
    Thanked 67 Times in 62 Posts
    Rep Power
    47
    I'm beginning to think most computers and printers are like cars from the 70s, I actually refer to an old printer as reliable as a morris minor and the newer (failed) printer as a vauxhall chevette. Only staff over 40 know what I mean though!



SHARE:
+ Post New Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Stinking cold
    By sparkeh in forum General Chat
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 19th January 2009, 02:13 PM
  2. Cold Calls
    By sippo in forum General Chat
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 3rd December 2008, 01:05 PM
  3. Anyone else got a cold?
    By Dos_Box in forum General Chat
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 23rd October 2008, 02:47 PM
  4. Cold, so very cold....
    By Dos_Box in forum General Chat
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: 18th November 2005, 04:43 PM

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •