Computer Motherboard Leaky Capacitor Repair Service in Canada

(c) copyright 2004-2015 Tecnopolis Enterprises (est. 1999)
Permission granted to quote or use contents of this page only if you credit Tecnopolis Enterprises and provide a clearly visible link to this page's URL.

Limited time offer! For a limited time we are offering $10 off the regular repair prices. Offer does not apply to DIY kits.

Tecnopolis Enterprises is pleased to offer a repair service for the problem plaguing most motherboards manufactured around 2001 to 2002, though I've seen boards as far back 1998 and some as new as 2004 with bad caps. The problem is that faulty electrolyte was used in the low-ESR electrolytic capacitors used by the big Tawainese board makers during that period. After a couple years of use -- can be as little as one or as many as five -- these caps tend to start leaking and failing. In addition to the faulty electrolyte problem, excessive heat buildup over extended time periods and long service life can cause even non-faulty caps to fail. Always ensure adequate cooling when operating any computer.

General Symptoms: Bad caps cause your system to be unstable, crash, have monitoring software glitches, etc. Other symptoms include the system powering off by itself, rebooting by itself, being hard to turn on, endless reboot cycles, locking, freezing and/or your onboard video getting blurry/fuzzy/wavy. Sometimes the first symptom you will see is that USB devices will cause the system to become unstable, crash or not boot, or the USB device will not recognize or function in the system properly. For instance, if you recently got a new USB device and started having problems soon after plugging it in, then there is a good chance your problem is bad capacitors. We've also seen network cards start to lose their connections, though often OS down/up commands will get them to work again (often the badcaps are near the affected slot).

Visual Inspection Symptoms: You can verify that you have this problem by looking at the round/cylindrical upright capacitors on your motherboard (there are usually many scattered all over the board) and checking for any that are bubbling up or puffy at the top (normal caps should appear perfectly flat on top), or that are showing some brown or other goo coming out the top or bottom. Even if the top appears only a tiny bit puffy or non-flat you probably have the problem. I've seen boards show symptoms with only one cap showing only the slightest puff-up. Even if you can see no puffy caps, you may have the bad-cap problem and it just hasn't gotten really bad yet. This is especially likely if you are experiencing any of the listed symptoms and your board is the correct age (2001-2002).


4 examples of bad caps: 1 & 4 are bulging out a bit but are not leaking goo, so the fault is subtle and a little harder to spot. 2 & 3 are obviously leaking goo and are easy to spot. All 4 caps are "bad" and should be replaced.

Power Supplies: We have also seen many power supplies failing due to bad capacitors. If you catch it soon enough, you can repair the power supply before it fails. However, most cheap power supplies aren't worth repairing and you are usually better off getting a new, beefy power supply. Tecnopolis recommends higher-end APFC (active power factor correction) power supplies from Antec, like the HCG line ($100-$130). I've become disillusioned with nearly every other brand, even my old favorite (Enermax).

Beware power supplies that claim "all-Japanese caps" because many of them mean all-Japanese only on the AC side, the huge caps, and those caps never fail anyway; and they use cheap caps on the DC side where they always fail. So far I've found only Antec (HCG models and others) really uses Japanese caps on the DC side.

Never skimp on power supply! It is the most important part of a computer. If you require a source, we sell them, email for quotes.

Bad Cap Brands: Brands of capacitors I have personally found to be faulty include: Chhsi, Tayeh, JPCON, G-Luxon, Lelon, GSC, DST, YEC, Teapo, KYS, Fulltec, Jun Fu, Fuhjyyu, Su'scon, CS (might be SC). This doesn't mean all these brands will always be bad, but they have a really good chance as they have proven extremely unreliable. Likewise, brands not listed above may also be prone to leaking (there are many listed on other web sites) but I have yet to run into them personally so I will refrain from listing them here. You can find the brand name printed on the side of the caps if you look carefully.

Cap values less than 820uf rarely fail, though some 470 that are 8mm have been known to. We have never seen a bad cap smaller than 8mm in diameter.

Good Brands: In contrast to bad cap brands, Japanese brand capacitors rarely fail prematurely. Brands that rarely fail prematurely include: Panasonic (Matsushita), Nichicon and Sanyo. I have seen a few Nichicon failures from the relevant 2001-2002 time period but these are somewhat rare and Nichicon have since regained their name as a quality brand.

Warranty Check: If you think you have bad caps, the first thing you should do is check to see if your motherboard is in warranty. Look at the invoice for details or contact the place of purchase. Most retail motherboards sold as components from local shops have 2 (and sometimes 3) year warranties. Most name-brand computers (Dell, HP, etc) will have only a 1 year warranty unless you purchased optional extended warranties. If it is out of warranty, then you may be interested in my repair service, especially if you do not want to go through the hassle of a major upgrade which requires a fresh install of Windows and the transferral of your old data and software (always a major pain).

Pricing: Tecnopolis can repair your motherboard's leaky capacitors for only $64 + taxes for locals who bring their board to our Winnipeg location. Other Canadians can ship in their board and we will fix it and return it for $84 + taxes which includes S&H to most Canadian cities. The fee includes replacement capacitors (as many as 10 or 20 may be required) and all labor (it's a very slow painstaking process that must be done carefully and precisely). Rush service is available for an extra fee for those who cannot afford to have much downtime. If you are outside of Canada, you can check the web for a local repair place (there are a couple in the USA which should be more economical for US citizens), or you can use our service and we would be glad to help you (in which case contact us for further details; special shipping instructions and extra return shipping fees of about $10 will apply). Email us for more details at leakycaps08@tecnopolis.ca

Speedy Service: We understand that if you care enough to get a board repaired, you probably cannot afford much downtime. In almost all cases boards are repaired and mailed back to you within 24 to 48 hours of board receipt. If you require a fast turnaround, please verify with me before shipping to ensure the caps you need are in stock and what the precise turnaround will be, and indicate what sort of turnaround you require. Return freight included in the total price is expedited Canada Post mail, which is 2-7 days to most of Canada. If you require faster freight, all UPS and Purolator options are available, such as next day air. You only pay the difference between the freight charges. Same day turnaround is possible if you arrange it in advance and pay a small additional fee, plus freight. For this to work you must ship via a carrier that guarantees 10:30am delivery, and your board will be returned to you via UPS before the daily cutoff time.

"For that kind of money, why wouldn't I rather just buy a brand new board?" Because if you get a new board you are usually forced to reinstall Windows (you can't just move your old hard drive and expect it to work). Backing up all your data, reinstalling and reconfiguring Windows and then reinstalling all your applications can take hours or days and requires a good degree of computer skill. Also, after upgrading the board, Windows XP anti-piracy activation technology may detect the change and cause your Windows to cease functioning until you call Microsoft and convice them you are not a pirate. Because your board is older, there is an extremely good chance that whatever CPU you have will not work in a new board. That forces you to buy a new CPU. The same goes for RAM, video cards, power supplies and even case form factor. It is usually much easier to just get the board fixed if you were not planning on doing a major computer overhaul anytime soon. Trust me, it takes much longer and is more painful than you may think to redo a computer or move everything to a new one!

DIY Do-it-yourself Options: We also can provide you with the bare capacitors you need and you can attempt to do the fix yourself. We stock all the common sizes and values. For a flat fee of $30 CAN$ including shipping to most Canadian addresses or $32 US$ to USA addresses (ROW please ask) we will provide you with all the caps you will need to fix your board. Reduced prices are available if you need multiple kits, or if your board only requires less than 6 caps. To determine what caps you need, we will provide you with instructions on how to read the caps on your board (it's really easy). We may also require a digital picture or scan of the board. We will send you replacements for all the caps that are brands that are known to be problematic, whether they are showing symptoms or not. We take all the guesswork, research and difficulty out of finding the right caps for your board. Caps each have over 11 different variables that must be taken into account to make sure you get the best for the job (ie. do you understand what ripple and leakage current are?). We have done extensive research and fully understand the complex variables involved. We make the best choices and find the best matches from the top 2 Japanese brands: Panasonic and Nichicon. Making the wrong choice in any of these variables can lead to a blown or unstable board. For someone doing 1 or 2 boards, it is much cheaper to order from us rather than try to source them yourself because we get bulk deals and consolidate shipping costs. Email if you are interested. If you are not experienced with soldering, do not own decent equipment, or don't have 5-10 hours to devote to learning the skills from the how-to web sites, I would not recommend you try to DIY. It's not quite as easy as it may at first seem and there are plenty of ways you can blow up your board. Also, to do a really good job you will require several hundred dollars in tools including a heat regulated electronic solder iron, proper tips, a good soldapult and copper braid wick. However, if you want to put the time into learning and money into tools, I believe that most technically inclined people can learn to do the fix with a reasonable chance of success, especially if you have a couple of boards you can afford to ruin while learning.

Guarantee: Unfortunately, due to the huge variation in motherboard quality (some name brands are much better than others) and the huge number of problems a motherboard may experience (besides leaky caps), we cannot offer a guarantee or warranty of any sort. We do our best and will ensure only skilled electronics technicians work on your motherboard but there is just too many other components on a board that can have problems to be able to provide a better warranty. We cannot even guarantee that whatever symptoms you are experiencing won't get worse or that the board won't die completely. That is because if other components are having problems, replacing the caps may cause them to finally blow. That said, we have been fixing bad cap boards for over ten years and have had a 96% repair success rate (and the 4% failures are almost entirely Intel branded boards because of poor design choices). Chances are very good the operation will succeed and you'll be set with a working board for much more time to come.

Warning: If your board is completely dead and won't turn on or POST (ie: show the BIOS screen), then there is a 50/50 chance it is too late to save your board. Replacing caps on those blown boards generally has no effect as the bad caps have caused a major meltdown of other board components.

To save you money, we inspect all boards prior to cap replacement to determine if there might be other problems that will not be solved by a cap fix. Other problems such as overheating transistors, diodes, blown fuses, etc, are nearly impossible to fix and almost never worth the effort. If we determine there are other problems we will contact you to verify you want to proceed with the cap fix anyway. If you choose not to, we will return your board and charge only a small inspection fee of $20 (in Winnipeg) or $40 Canada-wide including return S&H. You may also opt to abandon the board and leave it with us, in which case we only charge the $20 fee no matter where you are located.

If you have a motherboard that has this or any other problems but you don't want to pay to get it repaired, or you have already upgraded, Tecnopolis will gladly accept donations of hardware in order to help society keep these toxic parts out of our landfills. We will repair your board if possible and then find a good home for it. If it is not repairable, it will be used for salvage parts as much as possible. Only parts that are blown or useless will be disposed of, and always in the most environmentally friendly way that is locally and economically feasible. All you have to do is drop off or ship the parts postage paid to us. Contact us for more details. Email us for more details at leakycaps08@tecnopolis.ca

Bad Boards: Boards personally known to have bad caps:

Other Products: We have recently come across many consumer electronics (DVD Players, etc) products and computer power supplies that have the exact same bad cap problem from the relevant time period. The bad cap problem was not limited to computer motherboards! If your power supply (especially cheaper ones) has bad caps, you can experience many of the same stability symptoms. You can fairly easily pop open power supplies and take a look. Make sure you unplug the AC power first! Tecnopolis takes no responsibility if you hurt or kill yourself in the process. If you are unsure, please leave it to a qualified technician. Tecnopolis always recommends high-end brand name power supplies to all customers. Enermax is our favorite: beefy and proven reliable for over a decade. We have yet to see an Enermax with bad caps and our failure rate is under 1%. We sell brand new power supplies at competitive prices if you have difficulty finding them locally. If your CE device is acting strange, pop it open and look for bad caps, especially in the power supply area. Tecnopolis can repair all of these devices if the problem is bad caps: please email us for a quote.

Some good web pages regarding the bad cap problem are linked to below if you want some further reading:

(c) copyright 2004-2015 Tecnopolis Enterprises
Permission granted to quote or use contents of this page only if you credit Tecnopolis Enterprises and provide a clearly visible link to this page's URL.