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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | Repairs, Returns and Refunds | Determining the Feasibility of Repair ]

Performing Your Own Repairs

Due to the highly complex technology used on modern PC components, most components generally cannot be repaired by the average person. Repair of PCs is limited to identifying and replacing faulty components. In fact, many PC vendors do not do any more than this themselves, because repairing individual components requires years of specific training, specialized equipment, and a lot of time. The only companies that can reliably repair individual components are usually the manufacturers of the items themselves, and even then many don't bother due to the time and expense involved. Items such as processors, RAM chips and failed circuit boards can never be repaired under normal circumstances.

Consider your motherboard. There are some people who advise that you can perform simple repairs of a motherboard using a soldering iron. Well, maybe on a much older motherboard, you might have been able to do this. Modern motherboards are very complex, and in fact are a sandwich of several layers of circuitry (try looking at the edge of one sometime). They use primarily surface-mounted components (not pin-through-the-board, which is older technology) that are packed very tightly. They are all assembled by automated machinery to a great degree of precision. The chances of actually being able to perform an effective repair on one of these boards without damaging anything in the process, is extremely low. This is the reason why defective motherboards are generally replaced, not repaired.

Most of the items that I consider repairable by the user are covered in The Troubleshooting Expert. You'll notice that they all take the basic form of finding something that is not working and replacing it. (Sometimes cleaning or adjusting an item will fix it; it's debatable as to whether or not this constitutes a "repair", but the terminology isn't really that important, I suppose.)

Warning: The most repairable of PC components is probably the monitor. You will sometimes see people advise that you can perform your own monitor repairs "if you are careful". I most strongly disagree with this advice! If you are careful, yes, you can repair some problems, but most you cannot. If you make an accident inside the monitor, even with the power off, it could be the last thing you ever do! Always take monitors to qualified repair people.

Next: Factors To Consider When Deciding to Repair or Replace a Component

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