Using Compressed Air to trouble shoot circuit boards : Freeze Sprays

Chemtronics_ES1052_FreezeSprayAll too often, troubleshooting a problem with a computer or other device that uses printed circuit boards turns into a long, drawn-out process. That's because figuring out exactly which board in the computer, printer, rack unit or whatever electronic device you're working on isn't always a cut and dried process. While shotgunning the problem by swapping boards out at random until the problem goes away may work, if the problem is a heat related issue in a chip, the problem could easily mask itself, letting the technician think the problem is fixed, only to have it crop up again later. Nobody hates having to come back to a service call or a repair more than the technician.

One way to track down heat related problems, whether it be a circuit that is broken as components expand because of the heat or a chip that overheats and fails is to use freeze spray. Freeze sprays allows the technician to lower the temperature of different circuit boards, hopefully temporarily correcting the problem and allowing the tech to troubleshoot the system without shutting down and swapping boards. As too many techs know, doing that is too often counterproductive.

However, you can't simply use some type of compressed air to cool boards. While flipping some aerosols and using the propellant as a cooling agent may work, you may actually cause more damage because of moisture and corrosive chemicals contained in the propellant. Freeze sprays like Chemtronics ES1052 Freeze Spray are designed to be safe for both boards and components and are designed to be used in "live" environments to help troubleshoot problems.

Furthermore, using a freeze spray like Chemtronics ES1051 ESD-Safe Freez-It Freeze Spray are designed to be used in areas where electro-static dispersal is essential for circuit board protection. Anyone who works with computers and other sensitive electronics knows full well the damage static electricity can do and using a type of spray that causes static electricity can cause far more problems than it solves.

Having the right tool for the job can be as simple as using something to cool down an overheated circuit to eliminate the issue once and for all. With a great freeze spray, a tech can track down the problem, replace the bad circuit board and have the repair completed within minutes instead of the hours it could take to troubleshoot the problem by shotgunning. Not only is freeze spray very effective when it comes to troubleshooting, its a very cost effective alternative to shotgunning a problem as well. If you're a tech or someone who has to troubleshoot printed circuit boards, having freeze spray on hand can save you a lot of time and a lot of money as well.ThinkingEngineer

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