King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Friday, February 27

The PC Horror story

This is a genuine call out I did on Wednesday, and I had to share it with you. It started simply enough...
"Hi Rik, it's Steve. I've had a problem with my PC," he said.
"Don't tell me, you've had windows saying it's not genuine. Has the screen gone black..." I asked.
"Actually, if I could interrupt you, it's quite serious. I'm lucky the house is still here," he answered. "There was a lot of smoke, and apparently some flame, and my son took the PC out the back and soaked it with water. I've been onto the insurance company, and they say they'd like a report done. You do that, right?"
"Yeah, no problem. I need to come down and take it away, or at least take some pictures."

Looking at the seat of the fire.

The sight that greeted me.

The hard drive removed.

It would appear that the power circuit went short circuit, meaning the wires got hot and melted the insulation around them. Normally, at this point, the power supply would go bang, and everything would be hunkydory. Only this one didn't. It kept pumping current into the hotter and hotter wires, and more and more of the insulation was burned away. It would have been smoking heavily at this point. The insulation was dripping down, probably aflame, and igniting further wiring inside the PC, including the drive's data cable and the main power connector for the board. Presumably, it was this that then caused the power to finally die, and the whole system would have turned off. This is when the owner came in, to find the room full of smoke, and ran with the PC out to the garage where he coated it liberally with a bottle of Evian.
Now normally I wouldn't encourage anyone to put water on an electrical fire (if you've ever seen what it does, it's terrifying. See here) but fortunately in this case the water had the desired effect. I always keep a powder extinguisher within arm's reach next to my desk.
This then gave me one of those eureka moments. What about smoke detectors. It's all well and good smelling the smoke, but why not make them trip out the whole house, meaning the electricity is cut off from any faulty appliance. Watch out for me on Dragon's Den. This time next year Rodders...