How to get cigarette smoke smell out of video card?

Kelvarr

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I needed a "new" PCIe-powered GPU (so no external power connections), and found a good deal on one on Facebook Marketplace.
It never even occurred to me to ask if it was from a non-smoking environment. After I picked it up, I could barely make the drive home with it. It stinks something bad. The card looks fine, and is not dirty, but that smell is clinging to it.
It's been in my garage, airing out, for ~2 weeks, and it doesn't seem to have helped at all. Any suggestions? It was cheap enough I could pitch it if I can't eliminate the smell, but I'd rather not waste the money, if it can be avoided.
 

auntjemima

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Having cleaned stuff (processors, HSF, etc) with IPA, but never a whole card, I was thinking that, but wasn't positive if I could douse the whole thing.
Also, do I need 90%+?
Leave it outside. Or use an ozonator
 
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cdabc123

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You have to get all dust off the card. The tar sticks to the dust and makes a pleasant paste.

Pull the fan off too the backside of the fan is normally the worst and needs to be completely clean as the GPU is pushing air with it. Same
 

RazorWind

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Maybe run the heatsink through the dishwasher, and then clean the PCB with isopropanol?

I'd imagine most of the smell is actually the heatsink, which is a big dumb chunk of metal that you can clean with almost anything without damaging it. If the dishwasher didn't work, something like brake cleaner would be my next option. The fans obviously need to be treated more carefully - I'd probably start with isopropanol and a toothbrush.

You may need to be a little more careful if the heatsink has a vapor chamber, as it's actually possible for those to get overheated and warp. I might go straight to brake cleaner with one of those.
 

Kelvarr

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chameleoneel

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You may need to be a little more careful if the heatsink has a vapor chamber, as it's actually possible for those to get overheated and warp. I might go straight to brake cleaner with one of those.
The dishwasher isn't going to heat it more than the GPU itself ;)


Kelvarr take off the heatsink and fan. You can wash the chips and PCB with distilled water and a mild dishsoap. Same with the heatsink. Or you can put the heatsink in the dishwasher, if you want.

Do what you can with the fan, with alchohol and a small paint brush or an actual computer cleaning brush, if you have one. You should not submerge the fan, because you could mess up the lubrication.
 

hititnquitit

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Pull it apart, take the fans off and soak/agitate the heatsinks in a 50/50 bleach water mix for a couple of hours. Then clean the housings and fans with household cleaner with paper towel to see when they are completely clean. Rinse the heatsinks in scalding hot water and blow them dry with an air compressor.
Clean the pcbs with alcohol and dry off quickly with paper towel or a clean rag, before the alcohol dries and leaves behind any dirty residue. It usually won't come back off.
That's what does it for me. It's a pita but it always works ;)

I don't trust our dishwasher.
 

Nebulous

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This crossed my mind as well, but wasn't sure. I didn't *think* it would harm the contacts, but I wasn't sure about the PCB itself. Could this also be sprayed in the fan housing?
I sprayed it on the PCB's, fan housing and blades and scrub with a small paintbrush. Remember this stuff dries quick like alcohol does, so having a few cans and spray-n-scrub at the same time will work best. be careful spraying into the fan hub. It will clean out the lubrication that is in the hub. If you do, just get some 3-in-1 oil for the fan hub. I use the CRC on vintage audio PCB boards and I have zero issues.
 

chameleoneel

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Pull it apart, take the fans off and soak/agitate the heatsinks in a 50/50 bleach water mix for a couple of hours. Then clean the housings and fans with household cleaner with paper towel to see when they are completely clean. Rinse the heatsinks in scalding hot water and blow them dry with an air compressor.
Clean the pcbs with alcohol and dry off quickly with paper towel or a clean rag, before the alcohol dries and leaves behind any dirty residue. It usually won't come back off.
That's what does it for me. It's a pita but it always works ;)

I don't trust our dishwasher.
50/50 bleach/water is incredibly overkill for any job. But also.....bleach is acid and that much of it, for a couple of hours......not gonna be good for your aluminum/copper heatsink.
 

hititnquitit

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50/50 bleach/water is incredibly overkill for any job. But also.....bleach is acid and that much of it, for a couple of hours......not gonna be good for your aluminum/copper heatsink.
Aluminum only. I don't clean copper with bleach even if its stinky(clr). The end result is sparkling clean heatsinks ;) the bleach hasn't hurt any of them so far and it takes care of the funk for good 😊
 

griff30

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Pull it apart, take the fans off and soak/agitate the heatsinks in a 50/50 bleach water mix for a couple of hours. Then clean the housings and fans with household cleaner with paper towel to see when they are completely clean. Rinse the heatsinks in scalding hot water and blow them dry with an air compressor.
Clean the pcbs with alcohol and dry off quickly with paper towel or a clean rag, before the alcohol dries and leaves behind any dirty residue. It usually won't come back off.
That's what does it for me. It's a pita but it always works ;)

I don't trust our dishwasher.
Bleach corrodes aluminum.
 

chameleoneel

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No bleach is a base. pH around 12
Ok yes, I was wrong about that.

But it still stands, you shouldn't leave metal in bleach for long periods. I learned the hard way, with some kitchen knives I forgot about, in a sink of bleach water. I mean, maybe it would be ok on some high purity stainless steel or silver utensils. But one of the things about bleach is you don't really need long periods, for the desired results ;)

And you should basically never use a 50/50 solution of bleach for anything. Except maybe achieving certain results with clothing? I dunno, I don't generally see the point in over use of bleach. Its unecessary and can also be dangerous. Fumes. High concentration having rapid/undesired effects, etc.
 

Abit667

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Put it in a plastic tote or something similar with an ozone generator for a while. It's the only way.
 

Kid744

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Put in box with a plate with cup of coffee spread out on the plate.

Kid
 

Zepher

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airing it out won't work since the nicotine and stuff is stuck to the card.
 

applegrcoug

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I bought a second hand really stinky card once two. I disassembled it and thoroughly wiped every bit down with alcohol. The heat sink I think I washed with soapy water. This got rid of most of the smell. Then I learned the dude double crossed me and sold me a busted card.
 

Nebulous

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If that gets into the bearings of the fan, will it do anything to the grease?
Yes. The CRC will dissolve the grease/oil. Thus is I added if the CRC does get in, to relube the fan hub with 3-in-1 oil/ sewing machine oil or lithium grease.
 

DanNeely

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Worst case with the fans, replacements should only be $10-20 on amazon/fleabay.
 

daglesj

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I've put smokers PCs in the shower. Seriously. I'd remove a few components (optical drive and BIOS battery) but the rest would go in my power shower, even the PSU (drained). Came out looking like new and smelling a lot fresher.

Left to dry for 3 days minimum in a warm room. No issues. The half dozen machines I did that to were all still working just fine several years later when they were decommissioned.
 

duronboy

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I heard once that coffee was a great way to get out cigarette odor. I don't know if it's true, but it sounds like they go together. And if that doesn't work, take a bath in tomato juice.
 
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