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SicardTech

Cockroach Infestations

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I've had a recent epidemic of computers coming into the shop infested with bugs (specifically brown banded cockroaches), and I'm curious how other people handle/would handle it?
I cant really turn down the work because 1) 80% of the time I don't know of the infestation until I open the computer and the customer is long gone and 2) So many of my customers have these infestations that I'd be losing almost 50% of the jobs that come in. And usually I can earn a few extra bucks recommending a hardware cleaning and killing off the infestation.

The way I handle it now is usually I'll take the computer to an open, clutter free area of the shop and work on it there. If I see any roaches make a run for it away from the system I have a bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol on hand to spray them (usually kills them on contact, seems the safest option for nearby components, and easier to cleanup than other sprays or trying to smash them).
If and when I open up the PC or laptop (always the most fun with these due to all the nooks and crannies), I use a small set of tweezers that came with a repair toolkit I got ages ago to grab them, and spray them with isopropyl on a collection paper towel outside of the device. I also keep the spray bottle handy in-case I hit a big nest and need to just spray wildly into the device itself to kill them in mass before they escape and infest my shop (I hate doing this, and I always thoroughly check that I've dried everything off and soaked up any puddles that may have formed before I dare power anything on). And finally, once I've killed everything I can see/catch, I take the whole device apart and scrub it all down with more isopropyl to cleanup the residue they leave behind and hopefully kill any eggs that could be hiding.
I've fixed several PCs that refused to power on like this (I'm guessing either a roach or the residue was causing a short somewhere), and thus far I've yet to have a customer complain of a re-infection or anymore power issues (I also give all my customers a recommendation to a local pest control company who have proven to be very good at killing off other nests on the premises).
I also try and protect my shop with a overabundance of bait and traps hidden around, and I've alerted my landlord of the issue, so they have pest control spray my shop fairly frequently to help prevent a possible infestation here (I had the startings of one once, but after I put those two preventatives into place, it seems to have killed off what was here and haven't had anything since knock-on-wood).

Has anyone else here had experiences or issues with these types of infections? Any suggestions on ways they'd handle it? Or possibly any safer or more efficient ways I could be handling it?

Also, I apologize if this isn't the correct place for this topic, but this was the only section I could find anywhere to post about hardware.

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Posted (edited)

I worked in an environment where we had roaches, mice and even stachybotrys.  Roaches love electricity and magnetism and would be found congregated in speakers and electric clocks.

The tool of choice was a vacuum with a hepa filter incorporating a long wand.  A soft bristle paint brush would dislodge dust and roach carcasses that the vacuum would suck-up.  I used 100% isopropyl alcohol and I have continued to use it to this day for multiple purposes.  If one takes a ComptTIA A+ exam and it suggests that to clean a PC of dust is to use a can of compressed air, they are WRONG.  A can of compressed air is apropos to a notebook but not a desktop PC.  Desktop tower computers are often placed on the floor but  all collect and concentrate the dust of the environment.  Using compressed air only makes that dust airborne.  The health of the computer technician is then placed at-risk.  That dust can contain disease that can make the technician sick.  Such as the Hanta virus from mouse dropping and dried urine or mold spores like that from stachybotrysIsopropyl alcohol kills pathogens and the use of a vacuum with a hepa filter reduces the the possible impact of breathing in mold spores and allergens that were concentrated within automated data processing equipment (ADPE).

I'll always remember the day when I placed an opened bag of corn chips in  my cubicle's above head cabinet and a mouse made his way into the bag.  In those days computer mice had "mouse balls".  When an employee had left the organization, I would collect their ADPE  for inventory, preventative maintenance and for their preparation for new personnel.  Under one person's desk I found a computer mouse ball that had been gnawed by a mouse.  The multiple parallel grooves left by rodent incisor teeth was undeniable.

While this photo is not mine, it is indicative of the problem we faced.

Spoiler

mouse3.jpg.5985cd6291ce109de449954fc37ad80a.jpg

 

Edited by David H. Lipman
Edited for content, clarity, spelling and grammar

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Yikes, yeah for desktops if possible I'd just take them outside and blow them out with an actual air compressor, otherwise as you mentioned, I'd use means other than compressed air, at least for the vast majority of the system/components (if there is something with a fine finstack that can't be easily cleared by manual means with a brush, vacuum or similar then I might resort to canned air, for example a CPU cooler and/or chipset heat sink and maybe the cooler on the GPU but that's about it, and even then, wearing a mask to protect your breathing would be a good idea).  For most notebooks, as David mentioned using canned air (or an air compressor as I mentioned) is pretty much a must as there are just too many small places that collect dust that pretty much nothing else can get into besides air (the small fans, fine finstacks on heat sinks etc.).  Back when I was a tech we did get a few systems like this from time to time that would be badly infested and it was tough seeing that, but as I suggested, we'd take these systems outside and blow them out with an air compressor away from the building in the back area, making sure that the direction the debris is being blown out is not against the wind since no one wants a face full of that nasty stuff.  We'd do the same with any heavily soiled systems (like those really caked up with dust, pet hair etc.) so that we could keep our actual work areas clean and not have a huge mess to deal with inside the building.

If events like this occur frequently enough you could take up a policy similar to companies that collect and dispose of old furniture and the like and have large plastic bags that each system is placed in when collected from the customer that way no lifeforms can escape should any of the systems be infested with anything, then when preparing to work on each system, you carefully open/unseal the bag somewhere such as the area you described where you'll be able to see if anything scurries out of it and deal with it accordingly.  Another option would be to clean them all outside using the air compressor method, again making sure you wear a mask because no matter what it might be, even if it's just hair or household dust, breathing in that stuff regularly isn't good for you (I had an uncle pass away years back from a condition in his lungs caused as a direct result of working as a barber/hair stylist his whole life just from breathing in all that human hair and it was strikingly similar to what I've heard from others about asbestos exposure with regards to its symptoms).

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Posted (edited)

@exile360

It isn't the hair per se.  It is the human detritus. Skin which flecks-off that may also contain skin and hair mites ( a microscopic arthropod ) which is a well established allergen.

In a shop environment, I think the idea of placing customer ADPE into closed plastic bags is a very good way to "quarantine" the equipment in case they may contain something the shop doesn't want to be introduced into their environment.

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demodex_folliculorum
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dust-mites/symptoms-causes/syc-20352173
https://academic.oup.com/jtm/article/17/1/21/1879775

 


 

 

Edited by David H. Lipman
Edited for content, clarity, spelling and grammar

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Interesting, what they were told by his doctors was that it was the hair itself that damaged his lungs, that basically breathing it in over the years had damaged the lungs so badly that he had trouble breathing and his condition worsened over time and eventually he passed away from it.  He wasn't exactly young when he passed and he'd been doing the same thing for a living for many years (he owned his own shop) and it was my understanding that it was the exposure over time of inhaling all that hair that did the damage/caused the condition.  They never mentioned anything about skin particles or mites, just the hair itself (and I believe in particular the tiny fragments of hair that result from the use of clippers and the stuff that would become airborne when sweeping up after the haircuts).

Yep, bagging up the systems is a good idea I think.  We actually used to do this with every laptop we got in as it's also a very handy way of keeping all the relevant paperwork and accessories together for each system as well (i.e. power adapters, any software/hardware the customer wants installed, work orders/description of the issue(s) the system is experiencing, the log of the work being done etc.).

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Posted (edited)

Of course once it's bagged in plastic you could spray the bug killer of your choice in there and give it a day or so before opening again.

It wouldn't always be needed, but it's only a small on cost that can be passed on to the customer.

Edited by nukecad

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9 hours ago, nukecad said:

Of course once it's bagged in plastic you could spray the bug killer of your choice in there and give it a day or so before opening again.

It wouldn't always be needed, but it's only a small on cost that can be passed on to the customer.

Definitely a good idea if it's a common occurrence, especially if you ever end up dealing with anything worse than roaches such as bed bugs which have sadly seen a resurgence in recent years thanks to their adaptation to most of the common poisons once used to eliminate them.

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On ‎6‎/‎16‎/‎2019 at 3:55 PM, SicardTech said:

(I also give all my customers a recommendation to a local pest control company who have proven to be very good at killing off other nests on the premises).

I tried this once, and the customer was so offended that I mentioned it to them.... I can certainly see both sides of the story, but we live in a world where we can't offend anyone any more... sad to say.

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2 hours ago, Firefox said:

we live in a world where we can't offend anyone any more... sad to say.

So true

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There's a lot here I definitely had not considered
I especially had not considered the risks of what could be sent airborne when dusting out a case. In retrospect it seems common sense, but all the repair jobs I've had or even in college no one really cared. It was just dust. In the future I will be bringing an face mask and goggles to the shop for cleanings (may be a bit overkill, but I have spares on hand at home, and the outdoor area where I dust computers out has wild wind direction changes, so its almost guaranteed to end up in my face at some point).

The bagging idea is ingenious, but I've been struggling to find anything large enough to hold larger laptops or desktop computers and is safe for electronics. Do you have any recommendations? Bug killer inside the bag wouldn't affect or damage any of the components at all?

20 hours ago, Firefox said:

I tried this once, and the customer was so offended that I mentioned it to them.... I can certainly see both sides of the story, but we live in a world where we can't offend anyone any more... sad to say.

I have customers get offended at my dirt cheap pricing (which is barely above being free at times), so I know that feeling very well.
Although luckily no one has been offended by the offered pest control card, especially after I explain to them the risks to their electronics that the roaches pose, and how expensive it can be NOT to get them cleared out. And that they'll probably be back in quite soon with their laptop because it got re-infested.

Thank you everyone very much for the advice so far! I've definitely learned a few important things!
 

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Posted (edited)

Tall Kitchen garbage bags, 50 Gallon Garbage Bags or standard heavy Duty Contractor bags.

I have thought about the concept of Insecticides. 
One can't guarantee that it will NOT cause corrosion of electronics, circuit bridges, plastic issues and the possibility of causing an allergic or other reaction by customers when they receive back the equipment. 

That all may be dependent on the type of agent and how it is applied.

 

Edited by David H. Lipman

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7 minutes ago, Amaroq_Starwind said:

A shame that you can't use software to prevent insect infestations.

That sounds like a nifty idea.  Perhaps some kind of mechanical arm with a motion sensor and a flyswatter or a large boot attached :P?  Or maybe a robot hand with a can of bug spray, again with a motion sensor.  Unfortunately I'd lose my patience pretty quickly if the thing smacked my hand too many times while reaching for my mouse or keyboard or sprayed me in the face because it thought my head was some kind of gigantic bug :P.

I have heard of some kind of bug repellent devices that operate on sound, and if they work, maybe a PC could be configured with software to play that frequency through the speakers, assuming it works and regular PC speakers are capable of transmitting the frequency (it's supposedly beyond the range of human hearing as I recall).  Of course, if you really want to keep the bugs out of a desktop, simply surrounding it with those sticky bug/mouse traps should do the trick, or spraying/dusting with some bug repellent/long term poison should do the job, that way if they do approach because they're attracted to the heat/magnetic fields etc., it just kills them as they approach.

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Here's my proposal  @exile360

I can see an internal Motion Sensor or an array of sensors built into the chassis.  When the sensor is "tripped" LEDs of specific wavelengths of Ultraviolet light is generated in front of a simple Van de Graaff generator.  The insects are physically attracted by the UV light and when the approach the light source they are killed by a high voltage discharge.   Basically a scaled down version of a Bug Zapper placed into the chassis.

 

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Replace the bug zapper with a death ray/laser and it would be even better.  PC enthusiasts could finally get some practical use out of all that RGB all over everything these days and the bugs will have a nice pretty light show as the last thing they ever see before they become rainbow illuminated poofs of smoke :P.

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Posted (edited)

The problem with the Laser is that it would be expensive to implement in having to calculate the power required to kill the insect and not burn a hole in the chassis or electronics and to effectively target the moving object.  That kind of tactical targeting may be cost prohibitive. 

breakpc.gif.276444697d77123809c04987e1259cb6.gif

Edited by David H. Lipman

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Oh no, I'd definitely want it outside the PC to prevent the little buggers from entering in the first place.  It could rise up from a small mechanical sliding panel that opens on top of the PC on a small rotating turret and the PC could shine a light as you mentioned to attract the bug to a particular spot with a little crosshair pained on it, then once the bug is in range, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzap, no more bug :).

Obviously I'm kidding, but it would be cool if real.  Honestly, a few sticky traps around the thing (and even inside it like on the bottom as long as it doesn't obstruct airflow) would do the job I'm sure.  I put them around my windows and doorways in my home here since we have such a large spider population and I catch all sorts of the 8 legged nasties.

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Oh I see, you wold Exile the insect in a 360 Degree perimeter pattern..................  winky1.gif.1da595f88467857725716b3fd12259da.gif

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Hehe, exactly :D 

I'd burn the buggers with my laser guarded perimeter of pain; a scorched circle of dust that used to be bugs surrounding my PC, or 360 degrees of death if you will :P 

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What an interesting thread. You're cracking me up. ROFLMHO

 

0arofl8ab5ef.gif

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2 hours ago, exile360 said:

 thought my head was some kind of gigantic bug

Are you letting out personal secrets there?

PS. All spiders are called Boris, and they do a good job of catching/eating other bugs so you might want to leave them to it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWpz2OYf1QU

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