We all know smoking is bad for you and the people around you. As a smoker, myself, I'm not here to warn you about the effects it has on your body or on those around you. However, you may not realize how smoking indoors impacts your electronics and computers.
The image above shows a pc that has been in a smokers house without being regularly cleaned. Not only is there abundance of dust blocking vital airflow and preventing the computer from cooling properly, the tar from smoking in the office has essentially glued the dust to the fans. This level of dust and tar can seize the bearings in the fans and lead to further heat-related damages to the system components, such as the power supply, hard drive, and system memory.
In this particular computer, the amount of tar was enough to stain the metal of the case and clog nearly every source of airflow. All of the case fans and the power supply fan needed to be replaced, along with the hard drive. The entire system needed to be cleaned before it was put back into operation.
The best way to deal with this type of issue is to prevent it. As the only smoker in my family, I make it a point to never smoke indoors. Therefore, I never have to deal with tar build-up on any of my devices and make keeping my systems clean easier. A once-a-month routine of using air duster or an ESD-safe vacuum is all it takes to maximize the life of my system and its cooling components.
If the tar is already present in the system, it is going to take a bit of scrubbing to remove it. I recommend using isopropyl alcohol (at least 91%) to make it a lot easier to remove the build-up. It is important to make sure that the computer is unplugged and discharged before starting the cleaning process. After unplugging the system, press the power button a few times to ensure the capacitors are discharged. Each component should be removed and cleaned individually, with adequate time to completely dry before being reinstalled. It is also important to note that alcohol should not be used on storage devices like hard drives or SSDs, as it can cause permanent damage to the internal components and render them inoperable.
I would only recommend doing this yourself if you're completely comfortable with taking apart and reassembling your system, and have adequate time to make sure the system boards are completely dry before reinstalling them. If you doubt whether or not you can do this on your own, bring your system by and we will do it for you.