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XCNuse's avatar

What all can lightning destroy in a desktop computer?

Asked by XCNuse (1187 points ) July 13th, 2008

Okay so I came home to slight of a problem… house got struck (or close enough) by lightning, intercom doesn’t work, doorbell doesn’t work, and security system was out of whack today.

Okay so at first I thought it was my PSU, it was making a louder noise than it ever hast. So I replaced the PSU, thinking that would solve the problem. Replaced it, my mobo still gets power from it, but when I push the power button, nothing happens, no drives spin, the bios doesn’t come up… nothing. My dad believes it could be the CPU core, I’m not convinced, but have no idea anymore.

What amazes me is it seemed to have gone through circuit breakers, a UPS battery backup system, and still ruins my computer. Everything else plugged into the UPS system works, monitor, large speaker system, etc. desktop wasn’t so lucky.

Any ideas? Could it be the CPU, or could it be the mobo is just showing it gets power, but is fried?

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14 Answers

seVen's avatar

for me when it happened it struck a power pole near my house and thus it went through my old surge protector and pc’s power source box inside the tower and motherboard, all fried.

marinelife's avatar

Try unplugging the power cord from the back of the hard drive. Then plug it back in.

This happened to me and I took my whole unit to a computer store, and the guy told me that it has a reset, and that is how you reset it.

Once you have plugged it back in, try turning it on again.

tekn0lust's avatar

Electricity and fire have minds of their own, they kinda play by their own rules.

There are any number of things that could have happened. To fix the PC, you’ll need to go one component at a time. In this situation you might just consider taking it to a reputable repair shop who will have spares to swap out until they find the faulty part. Hopefully there will only be one faulty part.

blastfamy's avatar

I have fried a motherboard before. The power button on the computer should start the CPU fan, but nothing will happen. In this case, your processor, and/or the mobo could be bad.

If on the off chance you had a socket compatible computer to test with, I might try to swap out the CPU into another machine. Otherwise, I would pronounce your machine dead.

Power surges can fry components.

XCNuse's avatar

The only compatible computer would be my dad’s, and I doubt he’d let me even try.

I took the whole thing apart today, everything literally, except the mobo off the back of course.

Maybe my dream of having a custom built computer just .. was forced by chance lol

I mean there’s a light next to the socket for the PSU to go into the motherboard, and it turns on when I plug the PSU in, but pushing the power button does absolutely nothing.

I mean I figured the bios would start up, even without the CPU core in, but it didn’t matter if it was in or not.. nothing happens.

marinelife's avatar

@XCNuse Did you try my suggestion? I swear this happened to me.

XCNuse's avatar

Like I said, I took apart everything, yes I have, and I hope to God that it didn’t in some odd way destroy my harddrive else I’m going to be pissed!

8lightminutesaway's avatar

Well you can test the hard drive pretty easily in another computer, like your dads, im sure.

Do any of your fans turn on? It sounds they don’t, but I just wanted to make sure. In this case, its a motherboard problem, and you’ll need a new one. Go for the custom build, its fun. I just did my first custom a couple months ago, good experience.

If the fans do turn on, you lost the cpu. you might want to test your RAM in another computer just to make sure, but I’m pretty sure your computer would still turn on without RAM.

blastfamy's avatar

When this happened to me, the computer would turn on; fans would spin up, but the BIOS would never start. In this case, you probably fried the mobo.

I’m going to assume that this machine was purchased from a compy maker (dell, HP, etc). In this case, I would recommend scrapping the machine for parts that you know can work.

If you really want to build your own machine, I would take the parts you can get from the machine: RAM, GFX card (if they suit your needs/wants). Your HDD should be fine, but there is a chance that is was fried. Usually, a BIOS will tell you if the HDD spins. The data is safe regardless, but it is effectively useless if the machinery is fried.

Best of luck

XCNuse's avatar

Yea it’s an older 4600 desktop from 2002 or something like that.
It’s time to upgrade, especially as Dell is marketing a desktop for $299 with a dual core, 80gb hd and comes with a 19” screen (.. meaning.. my Lord look how cheap everything is!)

Yea I’m going to guess it is the motherboard. I guess given the time and money I will put together a custom built PC. But yea I’m sure the HDD is just fine, RAM probably is too, no sense to go back to a 2.0Ghz P4 though lol.

Nope, nothing spins nothing turns on no nothing, guess it’s a dead one alright.

Thanks for yalls help!

chaosrob's avatar

Lightning’s tricky stuff. Unlike a plain power spike, lightning can do damage several ways. Heat, although that’s least likely to get into your home wiring. Voltage/amperage, it’s an enormous spike, can often jump right past circuit isolation. Electromagnetic/RF, creates a large spike of voltage in anything that is especially sensitive to magnetic influence, especially receivers and oscillator circuits (like motherboards). If you take a direct hit and you have a proper grounding setup, there’s still a fair chance that you can kill some of your more sensitive electronics.

tekn0lust's avatar

It’s important to note too that Dell PC’s have smart power buttons. Which means they have circuitry on the motherboard which allows the OS to tell the system what to do when the power button is pressed. Like suspend vs power off, etc. It’s possible that only this circuitry was damaged, but this isn’t replaceable so you be looking at a new mobo anyway.

And in the interest of saving your data I’d get that hard drive out of the system immediately and set it somewhere safe until you’ve got a fully working system. All this tinkering could damage the drive.

blastfamy's avatar

With reference to tekn0lust’s comment, you may try to find a jump header on the board. Touch a screw driver to it, and it may spring to life… just maybe. Be sure to recycle your old parts.

Best of luck

XCNuse's avatar

Oh yea definitely going to use the parts that I can, my dad asked me today and I pretty much summed it up “it’s dead..” told him the motherboard was dead, and I told him I wanted to build my own PC at somepoint anyway, which this probably won’t happen until around winter time when I’m back home, I mean I only have like two weeks of summer at home anyway and then finally a vacation ! finally! one week of vacation all summer hurray! so yea I mean it isn’t going to ruin my life but, yea I’m going to recycle my HDD and the new PSU and my ethernet board, probably just going to keep the Pentium 4 chip for good keeps (have a P2 in my desk drawer, it’s freaking huge!) and just build from there. A P4 2.0 core isn’t worth anything these days anyway, as is my nVidia FX 5500, worth about $20 these days lol.

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