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Old 04-07-2022, 04:54 PM   #1
SluggerB
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Default Can a new computer smell like urine?

So I assembled my new PC. Ir runs fine, no issues whatsoever.

I noticed I was starting to get a strong odor of urine in my bedroom (the room the PC is in). The only new thing in the room is the PC.

Just to eliminate all other suspects, I turned the PC off, unplugged it, and then spend all day today cleaning the room. Like really cleaning the room. The urine smells is gone now. Tomorrow I am going to turn the PC on and if the urine smells comes back, then thats the culprit. But why in the world would a computer make a urine smell?
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Old 04-07-2022, 05:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

Leaky caps have a smell of ammonia.
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Old 04-07-2022, 05:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

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Originally Posted by diif View Post
Leaky caps have a smell of ammonia.
It was a very strong, pungent urine smell.

The motherboard says it has a "Solid Capacitor Design" https://www.asrock.com/mb/AMD/970M%20Pro3

Here is the PSU in the computer
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The video card and HDD's are a swap from another PC that didn't smell, so I don't think they are a possibility.
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Old 04-07-2022, 05:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

Do you have young kids or critters?
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Old 04-07-2022, 06:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

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Originally Posted by desert-rat View Post
Do you have young kids or critters?
no pets, young daughter swears she did not have an accident

I still have the PC off and the smell has not returned. I will turn it on tommorow to confirm or deny if the PC is the source of the odor
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Old 04-07-2022, 06:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

Let everything finish outgassing. This can take a few days. If it persists, check the caps.

FWIW, outgassing of plastics & glues curing is what creates the 'new car smell' in a new car.
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Old 04-07-2022, 06:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

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Originally Posted by Topcat View Post
Let everything finish outgassing. This can take a few days. If it persists, check the caps.

FWIW, outgassing of plastics & glues curing is what creates the 'new car smell' in a new car.
I'm aware of VOC odors, but this was a STRONG urine odor, stronger than I have smelled VOC's before. I have been using the PC off and on for a few days.

I am still not 100% sure it IS the PC, tommorow will determine that. If running th PC causes the odor to return, I'm guess it can only be wither the motherboard or PSU, and I would likely suspect the PSU both because the motherboard is advertised as having "solid caps" and the PSU has a fan in it that would blow the odor out causing it to spread as much as it did.


We will see what tomm brings
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Old 04-07-2022, 06:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

Do you have any pets? Old carpet? Humid?
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Old 04-07-2022, 10:51 PM   #9
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

I find new PC power supplies stink terrible - the varnish, fiberglass resins, plasticizers will off-gas for at least a week or two. So that is more like Dollar Store stink than urine. Unless the cat pissed on it.
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Old 04-08-2022, 06:13 AM   #10
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

You might try the PC in a different room.
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Old 04-10-2022, 07:37 AM   #11
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

Just to close the loop, I restarted the PC and the odor never came back so it must have been something else.
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Old 04-11-2022, 10:20 AM   #12
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

OK, the case is reopened. I took a side cover off the case, fired up the PC, and the odor does seem to be coming back. It is less "urine"-y now and def more of a "hot electronics" odor. I sniffed around the inside of the case and best I can tell it seems to be coming mostly from the CPU cooler itself. My temps are 21-22C so nothing is overheating, the cooler itself is cool to the touch. It'a an overall very low power system. The power supply does not seem to smell at all. I looked around with a little flashlight and see nothing leaking, burned, or otherwise out of the ordinary. I touched around various areas and the only mildly warm thing I felt is a passive heatsink on the motherboard which I assume is the Southbridge

I used a fresh application of Arctic Silver thermal paste when I installed the CPU cooler. The cooler itself is a "black" model, maybe it's that paint curing over time?
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Old 04-11-2022, 02:21 PM   #13
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

maybe the fan plastics are the cause.
i got a radio a while back - the moulded plastic tray in the box smelt so bad that i binned it
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Old 04-11-2022, 03:34 PM   #14
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

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Originally Posted by stj View Post
maybe the fan plastics are the cause.
i got a radio a while back - the moulded plastic tray in the box smelt so bad that i binned it
If I sniff around the inside of the case the only whiff I get is from the CPU cooler. That does have a fan on it.

This is the cooler I have https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08HH6G48J/. It is painted/coated/made black somehow, my thinking is maybe whatever the black coating is needs to cure? The only really hot thing in the PC is the CPU, and by contact the bottom of the cooler. When I touch the upper fins of the cooler it is barely warm though. But the smell is building up. Not sure if it is worth swapping out the CPU cooler for a different model
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Old 04-11-2022, 04:16 PM   #15
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

Here is a pic of all my temps.

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Old 04-13-2022, 09:16 AM   #16
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

I took the PC apart, and the smell is definitely coming from the motherboard. It is coming from the area of the expansion slots. I took off the northbridge heatsink, and the heatsink itself does not smell, but the chip underneath does. I cleaned the entire area of the board with IPA, but the smell is not going away. The only things near this area of the board are the plastic PCI-e and other card slots, the BIOS battery, the northbridge, and some random caps. There is no leakage or damage on either side of the board in that area
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Old 04-13-2022, 02:18 PM   #17
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

must be the plastic connectors then.
maybe heat does it - try using a hair dryer
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Old 04-14-2022, 07:19 AM   #18
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

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must be the plastic connectors then.
maybe heat does it - try using a hair dryer
I took a q-tip and some 99.9% IPA and started rubbing around the area. In some spots along the expansion card slots, the qtip took some sort of residue off that look black on the Q-tip. So there is something on there. I did smell the PSU, RAM, and CPU, CPU Cooler, and thermal paste when they were off the board and they all smelled fine, so it's definitely the board.

Tonight I am going to do a full teardown of the machine, load up my little spray bottle with fresh 99.9% IPA, take a brand new ultra soft toothbrush, and really scrub down the entire motherboard. If it is some sort of reside or coating that was just not washed off at the factory, that should clean it up. I took a detailed visual examination of the area and nothing seems wrong, no caps bulging or leaking, and while in operaiton the board functioned flawlessly.

As an aside someone said in another forum that Mass Air Flow Sensor cleaner also makes a good circuit board cleaner? By happenstance I just bought a fresh can of MAF cleaner yesterday, I could give the board a good spraydown with that before going in with the toothbrush. Or is straight IPA preferred?
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Old 04-14-2022, 08:06 AM   #19
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

Actually, I use MAF sensor cleaner on PCBs, if/when I don't want to "waste" my CRC QD.

Are we certain this is a *new* motherboard?


Not that I do it much anymore since the bottom's fallen out around here, but:

My usual routine is IPA+ Simple Green, "spray & wait" (5-20mins), then thorough rinse w/ either cool tap water or RO filtered water if something like optical pickups or inkjet printheads.

If it involves cigarette-paste-infused TV/VCR/DVD/stereo boards, I've been known to use 409, various "orange cleaners," and even Spray-Nine.


For a mobo, I first use an electric "air duster" such as used in the 80's-90's for TV & other electronic servicing, to remove most of the water from the PCI & RAM slots.

I have an apparatus consisting of an inline blower and 1980's PTC Pelonis heater.
I turn the heater way down and have the blower's intake an inch or so away from the heater's front; most of the air bypasses the heater and the result is 80-100 degree air at the blower discharge.
I attach a round cardboard "duct" to the blower outlet and place the PCBs inside to dry.
With something like a mobo, I "blast" it in quadrants, rotating it every half hour, for maybe 4 hours.
When I *think* it's dry, it gets another hour to be sure.

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Old 04-14-2022, 11:25 AM   #20
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Default Re: Can a new computer smell like urine?

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Actually, I use MAF sensor cleaner on PCBs, if/when I don't want to "waste" my CRC QD.

Are we certain this is a *new* motherboard?
I assume so, it came in original packaging and all the anti static bags looked new and properly sealed.

I think I will just use IPA, I have 2 big jugs of it and I use it to clean electronics all the time so I know it' safe. I will be scrubbing it clean, then leaving it overnight to see if the odor returns, so it will have plenty of time to dry
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