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SFL

My iMac's fan is blowing hard.

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I have a iMac (late 2012) with 2.9GHz Intel Core i5 & 16 GB Memory.

 

It happened before a couple of times, but the last few days it is persistently repeating the same problem.  Usually when I switch on the machine, it makes the fan blow out air hard.

 

In the past if I put the Mac to sleep, restart or shutdown and restart, the problem stopped.  However, this time, it is often and persistent.

 

When I work, I usually have Safari with a half dozen tabs, Lightroom, dictionary, sometimes Photoshop on all at the same time.  But never very intensive heavy lifting in terms of processing images.

 

I read on the internet about SMC (System Management Controller) and how to reset, which I followed but not very successful this time.

 

How serious is this problem?  Is it the beginning of my Mac’s death?

 

If there is someone with the same experience who successffully remedied the problem, I would like to hear how.

 

Thanks you in advance

 

Sung

 

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In general a fan blowing more than usual means the processor is working harder than before.

Have you tried looking for funny processes running? Try the Activity Monitor.

 

wim

 

edit: have you tried the obvious: air channels are all free from dog hair/cat hair/general filth?

Edited by wiskerke
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Hi Wim.  Thank you.

The thing is, it happens when I turn the machine on in the morning or when I wake the machine from sleep.  It blows air really strong with fairly loud wind noise.

I do check the Activity Monitor sometimes when it becomes slower.

I am bit concerned as it might be on the way out.

Sung

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 Either faulty/damaged fan control driver, but most likely accumulated dust  - Mac’s as I understand it are hard to get into (PC user myself), but all these machines suck in a lot of air and with that a lot of dust that do accumulate everywhere especially on the blades. Less performance from the fans means rising temperatures, this computer revs them up more to reduce the temperature. Fan controllers does from time to time try to rid itself of the dust by spinning up to max. 

 

Regular cleaning is important - I do it every 3 months or so. Use the hoover, compressed air, little brush, wood skewer and try to get it loose and out. All IMHO. Good luck!

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If there is a problem with the fan you could damage the processor as it could overheat so I would advise you to get it checked out. I had this happen with a self-build PC once before I went back to the Mac. Obviously you could get in touch with Apple but it might be more economical to use a reliable third party repairer. There is a company near Cambridge called Mac Upgrades that do parts and repairs for Mac and they also do repairs. I've  used them a few times over the years and found them very good with great customer service. You could try giving them a ring and asking for advice.

 

Mac Upgrades

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Thank you, Wim, Martin and geogphotos for the suggestions and experiences.

 

Certainly I will try to clean the vent.

 

According to Apple Support ( https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201295 ), it is not unknown fact with Intel based Mac

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Thank you MDM for the link.

I will ring them and see what they say.

 

Sung

 

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Maybe this can help. For the mid 2010 model though.

 

wim

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I think it is way beyond my territory, wim :).  Thank you anyway.

 

Sung

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2 hours ago, wiskerke said:

Maybe this can help. For the mid 2010 model though.

 

wim

 

The Late 2012 iMac is a completely different beast from the earlier models 2009 through to 2011. 

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The Late 2012 iMac was the first of the thin iMacs that had no optical drive. The only area I've seen with a significant fluff build up is along the bottom edge. Fluff often collects in the bottom of the tapered case, and the vent holes are small.  Even when bad it doesn't cause the fan to run flat out. It's not caused by heat, as the fan runs as soon as the iMac is powered up, before it can warm up. 

 

A few likely causes. The single fan. It has a tacho out used to sense and control the fan speed. I've only ever seen one fail running flat out, and a few noisy ones. Generally they are very reliable. The other option is if a sensor has failed. When many of the sensors fail the fan will instantly run fast. The only way to detect if there is a sensor problem is to run Apple's MRI diagnostic. This is Apple proprietary and runs from a netboot server. This is used in Apple Stores, Apple Authorised Service Providers and some self servicing university IT depts. Apple will not charge to run diagnostics, usually an AASP will.

 

Internally your iMac only has a power supply, hard drive, logic board, speakers on each side and fan. Attached to the logic board is the airport/BT card, and a flash storage SSD used with the fusion drive option. The LCD is held on with VHB (very high bond) strips. The most expensive parts are the logic board and display.

 

 

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2 hours ago, sb photos said:

 

The Late 2012 iMac is a completely different beast from the earlier models 2009 through to 2011. 

 

The hardware is indeed quite different, but it has the diagnostic routines which are exactly the same. AFAIK.

 

wim

 

edit: it=the manual

Edited by wiskerke

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My MacBook goes through stages where the fan runs really hard and loud for no apparent reason. It has done this for years. It will go on for a bit and then stop and it's back to normal. I brought it to Apple years ago and they said they just run hot. I got an external fan that attaches to the USB port but it's noisy itself. I usually just shut down what I'm not using and put it to sleep for a bit and it seems to stop. 

 

I have an Intel MacBook Pro Retina 13" late 2013. I worry that it is past its prime and just keep it lean - I was filling up most of the 500GB hard drive with photos all the time and now am making sure most of my photos get reviewed and then I offload them to an external hard drive and process them on my iMac. With a 42MB Sony my files really got huge, and that's when I realized I needed to keep at least 100GB free - it's running fast although still not as well as it could.

 

I really thought it was on its last legs yesterday as I couldn't get the fan to stop it was so loud even when I shut down and rebooted but today I've been working on a writing project for hours and also still have PS, LR and firefox and safari open and it's been quiet and nowhere near as warm so all that noise must have cleared something out. Bringing it in to have it checked sounds like a good idea. I should probably do that as well with mine but I fear that the "geniuses" aren't all that, so I'll look for a third party since I'm well out of the extended warranty. 

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Thank you both, sb photos and Marianne for sharing your expertise and experiences.

 

I checked the fan vent this morning and it looked fairly clean without any accumulated dusts.  But it was rather difficult to see due to its location.  Then, I brushed off with a dusting brush just in case.

 

After that,  I turned it on and it seems ok, no fan blowing hard and loud.  Fingers crossed.  I am going to call the company, which MDM gave me a link, and see what they say.  Also, I am going to talk to Apple store and to search for a 3rd party Apple specialist near to me.  Cambridge is a bit too far, approx 160 miles.

 

Thank you all agin.  As always, everyone is very helpful.

Sung 

 

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I have revived a few of my daughter's laptops by using canned air to blow out the fluff and dust.  What happens is debris is sucked into the centrifugal fan from underneath and builds up behind the air slots in the radiator that vents out from the side of the laptop.   I have stripped laptops down and removed the wad of fluff but it is a task and a half.  

 

To do it safely: Unplug the laptop and remove the battery if possible.  With the battery removed let the laptop sit for a full minute before attempting to use the canned air to allow all capacitors to discharge. Arrange the laptop so that the vent at the bottom has clear space for debris to come out - overhanging the edge of a desk will do.   Using a reasonably full air can and holding the can as vertical as possible so that no liquid comes out blow some short sharp blasts (If you see propellant liquid coming out stop and use a new can) through the vent at the side and hopefully most of the debris will be blown out.  You need to do this along the full length of the side vent. You may need to pick out some persistent stuff from the bottom vent.

 

If propellant liquid comes out don't worry it should evaporate in a short time but do not attach the battery or connect the laptop to a power supply until you are confident that all the propellant has evaporated.  This will not remove all the debris but it is a simple way get it to around 85% clear. 

 

Modern Mac laptops/MacBooks seem to have a different arrangement of fans and it seems that there is generally a build-up of dirt on the fans as well so it would be a job for a technician.

Edited by Alan Gallery

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1 hour ago, Alan Gallery said:

I have revived a few of my daughter's laptops by using canned air to blow out the fluff and dust.  What happens is debris is sucked into the centrifugal fan from underneath and builds up behind the air slots in the radiator that vents out from the side of the laptop.   I have stripped laptops down and removed the wad of fluff but it is a task and a half.  

 

To do it safely: Unplug the laptop and remove the battery if possible.  With the battery removed let the laptop sit for a full minute before attempting to use the canned air to allow all capacitors to discharge. Arrange the laptop so that the vent at the bottom has clear space for debris to come out - overhanging the edge of a desk will do.   Using a reasonably full air can and holding the can as vertical as possible so that no liquid comes out blow some short sharp blasts (If you see propellant liquid coming out stop and use a new can) through the vent at the side and hopefully most of the debris will be blown out.  You need to do this along the full length of the side vent. You may need to pick out some persistent stuff from the bottom vent.

 

If propellant liquid comes out don't worry it should evaporate in a short time but do not attach the battery or connect the laptop to a power supply until you are confident that all the propellant has evaporated.  This will not remove all the debris but it is a simple way get it to around 85% clear. 

 

 

 

Hi Alan

Wow! You are very a brave and capable man. 

I wouldn't have a clue where to start.  I don't even see any joints on my desktop.  It's way beyond my capability.

However thank you for sharing your experience.

Sung

 

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53 minutes ago, SFL said:

 

Hi Alan

Wow! You are very a brave and capable man. 

I wouldn't have a clue where to start.  I don't even see any joints on my desktop.  It's way beyond my capability.

However thank you for sharing your experience.

Sung

 

 

iMacs are not made to be taken apart. Like most Apple products. If not all, these days.

 

wim

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.MacBooks can be dismantled - see many fan fixes on YouTube - and seem to be more easily serviceable than your average laptop as far as accessing the fan/s.

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2 hours ago, Alan Gallery said:

.MacBooks can be dismantled - see many fan fixes on YouTube - and seem to be more easily serviceable than your average laptop as far as accessing the fan/s.

 

However Apple will not repair an iMac (this is about an iMac not a MacBook) which has been worked on by non-Apple technicians. So yes it's definitely possible to open an iMac and work on it, but Apple doesn't want you to do that, and will never help you with the machine ever after.

Hence my comment that iMacs are not made nor meant to be taken apart.

 

wim

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2 hours ago, Alan Gallery said:

Marianne had a point about a MacBook and this is what I was addressing.   Sorry if I disturbed the cosmic order.

 

Haha! No cosmic order harmed. You're right about the Macbooks.

Apple even states in it's UK t&c that it may send you diy parts. That's in general not Macbook specific.

The iMacs are a special case, but more and more Apple products are now totally glued together and are becoming special cases too. Like the Macbook Pro.

 

wim

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4 hours ago, wiskerke said:

...

 

The iMacs are a special case, but more and more Apple products are now totally glued together and are becoming special cases too. Like the Macbook Pro.

 

wim

 

Although I like the physical design of Apple kit, it  is that closed architecture that has made me stick with PCs (MS-DOS and now Windows). As a long time IT specialist I don't like being beholden to a single supplier who can hold me hostage and fleece me. I build my own desktop workstations and routinely update my laptops. (I would switch to Linux if my preferred software ran natively).

 

And I have had almost no compatibility issues, I see plenty of MacOS issues on these and other forums but how many people are affected I don't know.

 

Each to their own decision.

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1 minute ago, Martin P Wilson said:

 

Although I like the physical design of Apple kit, it  is that closed architecture that has made me stick with PCs (MS-DOS and now Windows). As a long time IT specialist I don't like being beholden to a single supplier who can hold me hostage and fleece me. I build my own desktop workstations and routinely update my laptops. (I would switch to Linux if my preferred software ran natively).

 

And I have had almost no compatibility issues, I see plenty of MacOS issues on these and other forums but how many people are affected I don't know.

 

Each to their own decision.

 

Yeah I'm agnostic in the Apple-PC-Linux-Unix debate.

However being Dutch from Zeeland (the original Zealand)  ancestry I hate to spend too much on anything.

And I certainly adhere to if you cannot open it you don't own it.

Those things put Apple products at a disadvantage nowadays. However some of those are just worth their premium price though. (iPads!)

 

wim

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59 minutes ago, wiskerke said:

 

Yeah I'm agnostic in the Apple-PC-Linux-Unix debate.

However being Dutch from Zeeland (the original Zealand)  ancestry I hate to spend too much on anything.

And I certainly adhere to if you cannot open it you don't own it.

Those things put Apple products at a disadvantage nowadays. However some of those are just worth their premium price though. (iPads!)

 

wim

 

I only have an iPod, my tablet and phone are Android.

Edited by Martin P Wilson

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I found this again in my search so instead of starting a new post am wondering if any of you have successfully opened their MacBook (via the tiny screws on the back) and cleaned out the dust? I'm wondering if doing so may lengthen my MacBook's life. It runs hot and I know I have to replace it and my iMac but it's a big expense, so thinking maybe I can keep it running longer. I know the next move also means adapters for my large 4 and 6TB hard drives as well as several smaller ones, migrating files, and just general headaches. Thanks for any advice. 

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