What are the causes of a blown capacitor on a mother board?

Written by chris orr
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What are the causes of a blown capacitor on a mother board?
Shaped like little tin cans, a capacitor stores power until its needed. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A critical component of a motherboard is the capacitor. Designed to gather and store a charge of electricity until needed, capacitors condition and maintain an even flow of energy from the power supply to the other components of the motherboard. Troubleshooting a blown capacitor is a matter of just looking at it or the area around it. If the capacitor is bulging or leaking, it is blown. A number of reasons exist for a blown capacitor.

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The Capacitor is Defective.

Low quality or defective capacitors cause motherboard issues. In the early 2000s a series of motherboards began to fail due to faulty capacitors. One company in particular, Abit, admitted to using capacitors with faulty construction. After a certain age, the chemicals in the capacitor caused it to blow and ruin the motherboard.

The Power Supply is Defective.

A defective power supply can cause a capacitor to blow. Capacitors are rated only to a certain voltage. A faulty power supply that delivers voltage exceeding that of the capacitors on the motherboard causes failures of these components.

Surge Protector or UPS Failure.

A faulty surge protector or UPS permits unconditioned electricity to travel from the outlet to the computer. A surge due to a lightning strike or problem from the source can blow out capacitors if the surge protector or UPS is defective.


Lack of cooling in the computer case can cause capacitor failures. An over-clocked CPU or broken cooling fans accumulate heat within the case. Consistently high temperatures boil the chemicals within the capacitor and cause them to leak out onto the motherboard.

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