You are probably wondering if a PC can sit on a carpet due to space being at a premium or if you would like to keep the area tidy.
It’s completely understandable. You may not have the computer case of an enthusiast that loves looking at their machine with all the fancy lights and impressive hardware inside to go with it.
A PC can operate on the carpet. However, more dust will be persistently present around it, resulting in increased repeated cleaning and filters clogging up more quickly.
So if you are willing to keep your PC clean by regularly cleaning the filters, fans, heatsinks, and everything else inside the case, it might be an option.
What happens when a PC sits on the carpet or floor
Usually, it would be fine for a PC to sit on the carpet. But one thing that any floor is notorious for is holding dust from the air and other objects.
Every time you walk past your computer or create enough movement to churn up some dust out of the carpet or floor, the particles rise slightly, just high enough for the cooling system of your PC to draw them in.
When a PC is higher up off the floor, the dust particle density will be less when it gets near the computer.
A computer’s cooling system relies on air to be drawn into the case and expelled to keep the internal air temperature low enough for other cooling fans and other components to be cooled sufficiently.
So, you have a box with fans drawing air in and blowing air out. When dust particles are more prevalent in the air, they will get drawn into the case relatively quickly.
Refer to my other article, PC airflow optimization, for more information about how air typically flows through a computer case.
A computer will still function fine for some time
So dust on a short-term basis won’t do much harm. What begins to happen is dust starts settling on your intake filters, and if you don’t have any of those, directly along the flow path of the airflow and everything inside the case.
Cooling fans and other components cope just fine with lesser quantities of dust.
For systems with intake filters
As time passes, dust starts clogging the intake fan’s filters. This means that fans work harder to draw in more air and start drawing more current from the power supply.
The air starts to get drawn in from other openings around the case instead, bringing more dust straight into the case.
As the situation worsens, it becomes harder for the intake fans to draw in cool air efficiently and the system temperature increases.
With the internal temperature of the PC rising, components are harder to keep cool.
For systems without intake filters
Over time, the dust drawn in by the intake fans or from the exhaust fans drawing air into the case starts settling everywhere inside the PC.
Components like the CPU cooler will be noticeably worse due to the fan blowing more air from inside the system onto the CPU heatsink.
The intake and exhaust fans and the power supply will also be one of the areas with more dust deposits. If you have a graphics card, its cooling fan and heatsink will also be affected.
The dust will continue to build up, making it very difficult for these components to do their job, and overheating will occur. Overheating could happen for any components individually and, quite possibly, simultaneously.
Seating a PC on the carpet or floor comes with some responsibility
As mentioned earlier, sitting a pc on a carpet or floor is fine. As long as you set aside the time to check and clean the system regularly.
The time intervals will vary depending on each situation, but a cleanout every 3 to 4 months will prevent any long-term damage caused by too much dust.
But the best way is always to check the dust collected inside the machine every couple of months.
You can do this by opening the case lid while the computer is turned off to inspect the dust levels.
Can high levels of dust harm a computer?
When too much dust settles inside a computer, overheating can occur. But beyond this, dust combined with high moisture levels can eventually harm electronics.
When extreme overheating occurs, the PC can potentially become a fire hazard. I discuss more on this in my other article can GPUs catch fire, for further reading.
That’s when corrosion sets in and starts physically eating away at the PCB or other components. Over time it can cause hardware failures which will result in component replacements.
If anything, try clearing a space large enough for your PC to sit on your desk or some other cheap item you can get your hands on.
This way, you will most likely only have to perform a clean twice a year and save yourself some time.