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Thread: Washing a PCB... have you done it?

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    Default Washing a PCB... have you done it?

    i am going through cleaning things and i finally tackled my greasy PSX

    literally greasy. like it was hosed with cooking oil. it was every where except under the lid. i dont know how it happened, i just forgot about it and stuck it away and it sat.
    its very funky because inside it rused the sheilding but the PCB had no corrosion on it. it also ate away at the lower half of the plastic shell. the top half is fine strange enough.
    and by ate away i dont mean huge holes and stuff, the stand offs and alignment tabs are all crumbly, quite a few of them just turned to powedery goop.

    any way i tried regular electronics cleaner and it wasnt cutting it so i figure if i leave it this bad and try turning it on its going to fry any way, so i washed it in the sink with dish soap and a brush.
    super hot water so it will evaporate quicky.
    before i went at it i tested it with a multi meter to check for any residual juice left over in the caps, hasnt been on in a very long time but caps hold a grudge for a very long time.

    i had to clean all 3 PCBs in this thing this way, PSU, Main board, Controller board. i'll let you know how it works out when its dry.
    did this once before and it was ok afterwards, some one puked into the front pannel of a PC i was rebuliding and its working fine
    this on eht other hand i'm not so sure about, theres a bit more to it than usb ports and a card reader with a power button.



    has any one ever had to come to this?
    Last edited by Niku-Sama; 03-15-2012 at 12:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Niku-Sama View Post
    i am going through cleaning things and i finally tackled my greasy PSX

    literally greasy. like it was hosed with cooking oil. it was every where except under the lid. i dont know how it happened, i just forgot about it and stuck it away and it sat.
    its very funky because inside it rused the sheilding but the PCB had no corrosion on it. it also ate away at the lower half of the plastic shell. the top half is fine strange enough.
    and by ate away i dont mean huge holes and stuff, the stand offs and alignment tabs are all crumbly, quite a few of them just turned to powedery goop.

    any way i tried regular electronics cleaner and it wasnt cutting it so i figure if i leave it this bad and try turning it on its going to fry any way, so i washed it in the sink with dish soap and a brush.
    super hot water so it will evaporate quicky.
    before i went at it i tested it with a multi meter to check for any residual juice left over in the caps, hasnt been on in a very long time but caps hold a grudge for a very long time.

    i had to clean all 3 PCBs in this thing this way, PSU, Main board, Controller board. i'll let you know how it works out when its dry.
    did this once before and it was ok afterwards, some one puked into the front pannel of a PC i was rebuliding and its working fine
    this on eht other hand i'm not so sure about, theres a bit more to it than usb ports and a card reader with a power button.



    has any one ever had to come to this?
    I do it to LCDs and grounding plates but be careful, on the circuit boards water can remain under the ICs so use compressed air to blow it out, and the connector for the laser MUST be dried by hand since they are extremely prone to corrosion.

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    We bake PCBs at 125 degrees C to be sure to get rid of residual moisture. If you can set your home oven that low, it should work. Just make sure it's ONLY the pcbs and there won't be anything to melt. Otherwise compressed air works well, too.
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    I agree with the above posters. Washing is fine provided that you're aware of the water that will find its way under chips and into other parts. I rework a lot of boards with cap failure and washing is a must.

    Tap water is OK provided that your municipal system is relatively good. If you have a well or you're not sure, use bottled or filtered water.

    There are dedicated PCB cleaners. Dow Bathroom Cleaner works well, too. A soft, long nylon bristle paintbrush can help dislodge any stubborn contaminants.

    If you decide to bake the water out, be sure to preheat the oven & turn it off before putting PCBs in. Otherwise, should the heating element kick back on, you can get hot spots and warp the PCB.
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    well i know all of that, the oven only goes to 200 but i just stick them on the heater vent for a few hours and it was fine.

    plugged it in and turned it on, light comes on, cd spins and laser comes on. no smoke so thats good. dont know if it will play games though but i have a feeling it might be for parts any way.
    i saw another one at the as-is store a while ago that was thrashed on top.

    or, a portable maybe, its no big either way, its a scph 7501 if any one is wondering

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    Ive got a pretty dirty pcb on the way that's definitely going to need some cleaning, so its opportune that this thread came up. I was just going to lightly wipe it with a damp towel. Is that fairly safe, as long as I make sure the board is dry?

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    I would use a soft-bristled brush like the ones for polishing shoes to remove loose dirt particles from a board. I've have old boards layered with residual dust from storage and it did the trick. Make sure the board is dry before starting.

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    When I worked in the electronics industry, we would put PCB's in a standard dishwasher. No soap or jet dry or anything like that obviously. And these were for high end industrial controllers. So yeah, it's ok to clean with water so long as the boards are completely dry afterwards.
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    well at the same time about them being completely dry before turning them on you need to make sure theres completely no juice left in it any where weither it be in a capacitor, cmos battery or something of the sort. you can still fry some thing when its not plugged in all un hooked.

    like i said before i tested the capacitors and many different points on the board to make sure it had nothing left in it.
    also if this wasnt some for of cooking oil looking sort of stuff and just dust i would have used a short brissle paint brush and some compressed air with a blower attachment on it


    Graham Mitchell post a pic of this board.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Niku-Sama View Post
    well at the same time about them being completely dry before turning them on you need to make sure theres completely no juice left in it any where weither it be in a capacitor, cmos battery or something of the sort. you can still fry some thing when its not plugged in all un hooked.

    like i said before i tested the capacitors and many different points on the board to make sure it had nothing left in it.
    also if this wasnt some for of cooking oil looking sort of stuff and just dust i would have used a short brissle paint brush and some compressed air with a blower attachment on it


    Graham Mitchell post a pic of this board.
    It hasn't arrived yet, but here are the pics from the auction:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/200723771956...#ht_500wt_1413

    It's a Nintendo Vs. System PCB with a Vs. Super Mario Bros chipset installed. It was apparently in a box that got infiltrated with termites so it's full of what I suspect is termite shit. I ordered some PCB cleaner and compressed air from New Egg. I don't plan on submerging this in water or anything, but I do think it's going to take more than just shooting some compressed air on it. Do you think I could just spray it with the electronics cleaner, brush it off with a paintbrush (or I have a shoe brush!) and dry it with compressed air?

    Edit: Oh, and testing caps--do I need a voltmeter or something for that? How do I discharge them if they're live?

    Thanks, guys!

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    That thing is a mess I would pop the chips and put it in the dishwasher with a small amount of Simple Green. After it comes out you can use the compressed air to blow out the sockets and under the chips.
    Let it dry for 48 hours, in front of a fan is nice if you have one handy.

    Don't worry about the caps, they won't have any charge left in them.
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    I know, it's a labor of love, I tell ya. This little arcade adventure has been a lot of work.

    So should I just pour some simple green in the soap tray? Lower heat is probably better, too, right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Niku-Sama View Post
    i washed it in the sink with dish soap and a brush.
    super hot water so it will evaporate quicky.
    before i went at it i tested it with a multi meter to check for any residual juice left over in the caps, hasnt been on in a very long time but caps hold a grudge for a very long time.

    i had to clean all 3 PCBs in this thing this way, PSU, Main board, Controller board. i'll let you know how it works out when its dry.
    did this once before and it was ok afterwards, some one puked into the front pannel of a PC i was rebuliding and its working fine
    this on eht other hand i'm not so sure about, theres a bit more to it than usb ports and a card reader with a power button.



    has any one ever had to come to this?
    DO NOT IMMERSE YOUR PCB IN ANY LIQUID!
    Especially water! You are sure to ruin a capacitor or two which are not water tight. any moisture that gets inside will be imposibble to dry out and just amplify the cathod to anode process. If the PCB is that caked with an oily film, just go easy on the board itself with alcohol and a small brush. Blow dry with a can of air.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CRTGAMER View Post
    DO NOT IMMERSE YOUR PCB IN ANY LIQUID!
    Especially water! You are sure to ruin a capacitor or two which are not water tight. any moisture that gets inside will be imposibble to dry out and just amplify the cathod to anode process. If the PCB is that caked with an oily film, just go easy on the board itself with alcohol and a small brush. Blow dry with a can of air.
    You can disregard this statement. Many industry professionals have used the dishwasher rinse cycle to clean boards without problems. In fact, it was standard practice to do this at SNK USA, as stated by Nightmare_Tony, a former employee. As long as you you don't dunk the board is water for long periods of time and allow it to fully dry, there will be no damage to the board.

    Capacitors are also sealed against liquids otherwise the electrolyte would leak out and render it useless among other things. If the cap is old enough to where water penetration is a concern, it's about time to have to recapped anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowkn55 View Post
    You can disregard this statement. Many industry professionals have used the dishwasher rinse cycle to clean boards without problems. In fact, it was standard practice to do this at SNK USA, as stated by Nightmare_Tony, a former employee. As long as you you don't dunk the board is water for long periods of time and allow it to fully dry, there will be no damage to the board.

    Capacitors are also sealed against liquids otherwise the electrolyte would leak out and render it useless among other things. If the cap is old enough to where water penetration is a concern, it's about time to have to recapped anyway.
    You do know Capacitors are "dry cells" right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by CRTGAMER View Post
    You do know Capacitors are "dry cells" right?
    Only some. The most commonly used ones back then were standard electrolytic capacitors that were filled with a liquid called electrolyte.

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    Corrosion occurs when three things combine. Air or Oxygen - Metal - Moisture. The metal and air cannot be removed, so it is best to not introduce any water or water based cleaners. Stick with petroleum based cleaners to minimize the moisture. Dry components immediately after any cleaner is applied.



    Take a look at this exploded diagram of a capacitor and imagine any moisture or condensation seeping in.

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    You can't remove moisture from the equation either really, there's plenty of it in the air all the time unless you live in a literal desert.

    Time is also a fourth factor here. A lot of moisture for a short amount of time (without the presence of electricity in the circuits) is not really much of an issue if it dries off quickly, but a very tiny amount of moisture over years, or even months can lead to rust.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CRTGAMER View Post
    Take a look at this exploded diagram of a capacitor and imagine any moisture or condensation seeping in.
    And where exactly are the holes large enough to allow water to enter? If water can enter the inner chambers so easily, then the opposite is true. The electrolyte would also be able to escape. Any loss in electrolytic fluid alters the capacitance rating of the cap. Why do you think people recap arcade monitors and turbo duos? The fluid has dried up and the capacitors can no longer hold a charge. Yes, there are microscopic holes in the material (nothing is non-porous) but rate of escape is measured in years, not the 20 minutes in a rinse cycle.

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    They're right, water isn't going to do anything to the board unless it's still wet somewhere. I've doused a board in CLR before because there was so much battery corrosion on the board that I had to scrub off. There were transistors, capacitors and many other electronic components on the board that got doused as well. I then rinsed it under hot tap water and let it dry in the garage in the Texas summer for 24 hours, and it fired right up no problems what so ever, that was half a year ago, I checked the board and there's no signs of rust or corrosion anywhere.

    Now grated CLR is a different liquid entirely, but it's also a mix of corrosive acids so if a board can survive a mix of acids, then a neutral liquid like water won't do a damn thing to the board as long as the board is completely dry before any electricity is run through it.
    Last edited by alec006; 03-18-2012 at 02:55 AM.
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