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Old 08-26-2011, 06:41 PM   #1
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


I am new to this forum, and quite frankly I don't know if I have an issue that can be solved here, but I am running out of ideas.

I recently moved into a campus apartment at my school, and they are formally military housing from the 60s. The only problem I have been having is that computer power supply units which draws 500-700 watts have failed twice in a week. I have never had any problems with this in the past, and as such I was thinking it was an electrical problem. I had an electrician come out to look at it, and he test the voltage out of the outlets, removed the outlets to check the wiring, checked the breakers, and a few other things but mentioned that everything looked good. However, my power supply units have failed twice in a week, and failure meaning totally broken having to send in to be replaced, and at $200 per I can't keep buying them.

My question is this: is there anything that could cause my power supply unit to fail even though it is hooked up to a surge protector? Is there anything that I should be looking for, or a way to test if there is an electrical problem causing this failure? This is the only device to experience a failure like this, but it is also the most power hungry device in my house as my HDTV only draws about 300 watts.

Any help is appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

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Old 08-26-2011, 09:35 PM   #2
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


Where are you getting that your hd set draws that much wattage, same for your compter?

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Old 08-26-2011, 09:41 PM   #3
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


What computer power supply units draw 500 to 700 watts? Are you using a UPS?
Are you speaking of the internal power supply for the computer? Not sure exactly what is happening.....please elaborate more concisely.
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:41 PM   #4
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


for the tv i found it online, that should be peak wattage. Yes it is the internal power supply on the computer, I know this isn't a computer forum by any stretch but I believe the problem may be due to some sort of inconsistency in the electrical current from the house. My PSU draws over 500 watts at peak, not consistantly, but I was trying to paint the picture that other than the central heater it draws more power than just about anything else in the house.

I am not using a UPS, mostly because I am unfamiliar with them and when they should be used. I was under the impression that they are specifically to back up data so you don't lose data when you lose power, but do they also regulate the voltage?

Basically, I want to know if there is anything such thing as a surge or current inconsistency that is capable of ruining my computer's power supply that is not on but connected to the surge protector. If there is, how can I test for it and how can I fix it? I hope this helps to clarify, it is difficult for me to explain the issue because I don't understand electricity enough to know what may or may not be happening that causes these failures in my computer power supply unit.
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:45 PM   #5
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


Is this a house or is it like a room in a barracks where the barracks has been converted to private rooms? Do you notice if the lights seem to get brighter or dim on occasion?
If you want to try and figure this out on you own it may be a challenge. You will need a voltmeter with an analog dial so you can see voltage swings. You will also need probes that will slip into a receptacle and stay there.
Leave the meter plugging into the receptacle that you use for your computer. Monitor it for several days and take frequent readings especially when there may be a lot of electrical load. Leave the computer turned off.
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:50 PM   #6
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


First of all....it's very unlikely either your computer or TV use as much as you are inclined to believe. And secondly, a UPS can and most often will contain a power conditioner. I would consider a UPS if I were you. And again, how do you know what your PSU draws? Do you have a wattmeter attached to it? What the power supply is rated at and what it uses are entirely different. If you have problems with your power supply it could be related to computer problems, not the power supply. You may have some component failure which is stressing the power supplies. I'm not saying it couldn't be the power supply....it's just that other electronics would most likely be affected as well, not just the computer.
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:06 PM   #7
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Where are you getting that your hd set draws that much wattage, same for your compter?
Why do you question this? My HDTV draws 2.6 amps at 120 volts.
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:17 PM   #8
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


It is former military housing that is near the school, but they are not barracks. It was the on base housing for military with families and they are in sets of 4 units. The lights do not fluctuate in the house except for when they are first turned on, and that is a flicker until they brighten.

I am guessing that the PSU draws around 500 watts due to the components in the computer and by using a power supply calculator online. The first one that was ruined was rated at 750 and the second was 850.

The reason I am thinking it is not computer related is twofold: 1) This is a machine I built in April 2010 and has had no problems to date 2) The second failure of the power supply occurred overnight when the computer was not powered on. I would think that for another computer component to take out the PSU they would have to be powered on, and it seemed logical that the electrical inconsistencies were causing the problems. Also, keep in mind that this has now happened twice and broken 2 different power supplies which makes me think it is electrical. The second power supply powered the computer up perfectly well and it ran for about 6 hours yesterday before dying overnight when the computer was not powered on.

I am definitely thinking of getting the UPS it seems like the best way to go, and even if that doesn't solve the issue and it ends up being a computer issue, the UPS is still a good thing to have.

I feel like we are making progress here, again just trying to figure out if there is a possibility that the wiring in the house or an unstable current is causing failures in my computer power supplies.

Thank you for the replies so far!
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:27 PM   #9
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


You cannot rule out component failure. The first P/S may have died just for what ever reason. The replacement P/S could be new defective. Does it have any type of warranty?
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:40 PM   #10
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


yes they are both already sent in for RMA, I should get them back in 3 weeks or so.
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Old 08-27-2011, 02:03 AM   #11
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


Why are you paying $200 for a computer power supply that should only cost about $50 or so?

I would suggest an APC UPS....like This APC UPS $83 from Amazon.
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Old 08-27-2011, 09:17 AM   #12
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


First, do as suggested in earlier posts.
Second: go to http://www.antec.com/psucalc/ and make sure your PS is sufficient for your system.
Rule out system issues as it may have nothing to do with your home's electrical system although I guess voltage spikes could take out the PS.
Did you have this issue before moving or is the computer system new after moving into your new home.
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Old 08-27-2011, 09:25 AM   #13
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


I know that mine draws around 387 watts, but it is a plasma. Our LCD draws less, so was just trying to get the OP to clarify where they are getting the spec's, especially for the computer.
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:21 AM   #14
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


The original OP says these units were built in the 60's. Are the receptacles grounded? If not a surge protector or UPS will do you no good.
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:03 PM   #15
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Wiring issue causing computer failure?


Does the power supply have a 120/240 volt selector switch and is that set properly?

Have you measured the voltage yourself?

Does your computer have lots of add on boards inside and lots of external devices (with no AC power cords) drawing power from the computer PSU via USB cords etc?

Minor neutral problems might not be noticed unless you have some incandescent lights in use.

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