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I have a 21" iMac model identifier imac5,1 (Late 2006). (It's the one with a 2.16 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo and a max of 4 GB RAM, 3 GB addressable. You know, the white LCD ones)

Starting this weekend after I cleaned it... probably too aggressively... by vacuuming the exhaust slits and air intakes, it is now making a grinding / whirring noise. I suspect is is the case exhaust fan.

The temperature in the iMac seems okay, but I don't push it very hard so I am not sure if it will eventually fail due to heat. I do know that the noise is very annoying. Either way I would like to solve the problem.

Can the fan in an iMac (Late 2006) be replaced? I'm fairly certain it's not user servicable, however I could try it if it's possible without requiring special tools / training. I'd also be happy to pay to have it replaced but I don't even know if this is a service that's available for a 5 year old machine...

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I don't know about replacing the fan, but with XRG you can monitor your system's temperatures on screen. smcFanControl lets you tweak your fan speeds; maybe you can use it to dislodge whatever's in there, before you try opening the box.

  • I should have mentioned I tried smcFanControl and it seems to have no effect on fan speeds whatsoever... – Josh Nov 8 '11 at 15:10
  • I have been monitoring the temperature with Temperature Monitor, and the CPU code is ~120°F or ~50°C – Josh Nov 8 '11 at 15:12
  • 60 degC is about the hottest we can touch without getting burned. My (admittedly unproven) rule of thumb is that a device running at less that that isn't in danger from heat. Also, I have an iMac 24" of a similar vintage whose fans don't seem to ever react to increased temperatures. I use smcFanControl to bump them up 500 to 1000 RPM each when I'm playing a flash game. On my machine, the power supply and the GPU diode sensors are always the hottest ones. I picked values that would keep them at or below 60 degC. – JRobert Nov 8 '11 at 22:14
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The fan can be replaced. However, as was already pointed out by the OP, Apple's disposable desktops usually do not have that many user-serviceable parts inside.

It can be done by private individuals, or by a service technician, even today, although by now the financial incentives in doing such a thing are strongly on the side of do-it-yourself.

Finding the proper replacement parts might also be not very cost effective.

If anyone wants to attempt this user-unfriendly and difficult procedure, here are the guides to do so:

from ifixit.com: (since link-only answers are discouraged and also to give anyone a first impression of all the convoluted steps necessary, here is the content of the page for a hard drive fan replacement, quoted without pictures)

iMac Intel 17" Hard Drive Fan Replacement Written By: Walter Galan (and 4 other contributors) Difficulty: Difficult

Steps 37 / Time Required ??

Introduction

Replacing a defective fan is pretty easy and will keep your iMac running cool.

Tools Buy these tools Phillips #1 Screwdriver Plastic Cards Spudger T10 Torx Screwdriver T6 Torx Screwdriver T8 Torx Screwdriver

iMac G5 17" 1.9 GHz/iMac Intel 17" (EMC No. 2104/2114) Hard Drive Fan $19.95
Step 1 Access Door Loosen the two captive Phillips screws securing the access door to the iMac.

Loosen the two captive Phillips screws securing the access door to the iMac. Remove the access door from the iMac. Before beginning the repair, unplug the computer and press and hold the power switch for 20-30 seconds, to discharge internal capacitors. 4 comments

Step 2 Front Bezel Remove the following four screws: Remove the following four screws: Three 6 mm T8 Torx. One 8 mm T8 Torx. 2 comments

Step 3 Flip your iMac over and lay it stand-side down on a flat surface.

Flip your iMac over and lay it stand-side down on a flat surface. To lift the front bezel off the iMac, simultaneously: Use your thumbs to press in the RAM arms and hold the iMac down. Use your index fingers to pull the small bridge of material on the front bezel toward yourself. Pull the Front bezel up with your index fingers. Once the small bridge of material has cleared the RAM arms, lift the front bezel by its lower edge just enough to clear the bottom edge of the rear case. Add a comment

Step 4 Re-orient your iMac so it sits upright on the stand.

Re-orient your iMac so it sits upright on the stand. Insert a plastic card up into the corner of the air vent slot near the top of the rear case. Push the card toward the top of the iMac to release the front bezel latch. Pull the front bezel away from the rear case. Repeat this process for the other side of the front bezel. It may be necessary to apply several layers of duct tape to the top of the access card to aid in releasing the latches. If the bezel refuses to release, try pressing the lower edge back onto the rear case and repeat this opening process. 6 comments

Step 5 Lay your iMac stand-side down on a table. Lay your iMac stand-side down on a table. Lift the front bezel from its lower edge and rotate it away from the rest of your iMac, minding the RAM arms that may get caught. Lay the front bezel above the rest of the iMac. One comment

Step 6 If necessary, remove the piece of kapton tape(it is ok to toss this) wrapped around the microphone and camera cables. If necessary, remove the piece of kapton tape(it is ok to toss this) wrapped around the microphone and camera cables. 2 comments

Step 7 Disconnect both the camera and microphone cables.

Disconnect both the camera and microphone cables. 2 comments

Step 8 Display Peel up the lower EMI shield from the rear case. Peel up the lower EMI shield from the rear case. It is only necessary to peel the shield up from three sides. Leave it attached to the display. We have found it helpful to tape the EMI shield against the display to keep it out of the way. Add a comment

Step 9 Remove the two 4.8 mm T6 Torx screws securing the display data cable to the logic board.

Remove the two 4.8 mm T6 Torx screws securing the display data cable to the logic board. Grab the display data cable connector by its black tab and pull it straight up off the logic board. Add a comment

Step 10 Inverter cable on 24inch iMac pulls off to the left. Inverter cable on 24inch iMac pulls off to the left. Pull the inverter cable connector straight up off its socket on the logic board. 3 comments

Step 11 Peel back the aluminum EMI tape from the two vertical edges of the display. Peel back the aluminum EMI tape from the two vertical edges of the display. During reassembly, it is helpful to use several small strips of tape to hold the EMI shielding along the left and right edges of the display footprint out of the way before lowering the display into the rear case of your iMac. 3 comments

Step 12 Allow the EMI shield to hang down from the display.

TOOLS USED ON THIS STEP: TR10 Torx Security Screwdriver $5.95

Allow the EMI shield to hang down from the display. Remove the four 8 mm with 2 mm thick head coarse-thread T10 Torx screws securing the display to the rear case. These screws are recessed, so a thin screwdriver such as this is essential for removal. Bit drivers tend to be too short for this application. It is strongly recommended to use a magnetized screwdriver so the screws won't fall into the iMac. 6 comments

Step 13 Lift the display from its lower edge and pull it toward yourself to peel off the EMI shield attached to its top edge. Lift the display from its lower edge and pull it toward yourself to peel off the EMI shield attached to its top edge. Be mindful of any cables that may get caught during removal. One comment

Step 14 Speakers Remove the 30 mm T10 Torx screw securing the left speaker to the rear case. Remove the 30 mm T10 Torx screw securing the left speaker to the rear case. Add a comment

Step 15 Remove the 17 mm T10 Torx screw from the right speaker. Remove the 17 mm T10 Torx screw from the right speaker. Add a comment

Step 16 Pull the SATA data cable connector away from its socket on the logic board.

TOOLS USED ON THIS STEP: Metal Spudger $2.95 Pull the SATA data cable connector away from its socket on the logic board. The SATA connector on most iMacs tends to stick in its socket on the logic board. If you are having trouble disconnecting the SATA cable, insert a metal spudger or any other thin tool into the gap between the SATA connector and its socket and twist the spudger's shaft to safely separate the two pieces. Add a comment

Step 17 Disconnect the CPU fan by pulling its connector up off the logic board. Disconnect the CPU fan by pulling its connector up off the logic board. Add a comment

Step 18 Disconnect the hard drive power cable by pulling its connector up off the logic board. Disconnect the hard drive power cable by pulling its connector up off the logic board. Add a comment

Step 19 Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the AirPort Extreme antenna connector up off the AirPort Extreme card. Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the AirPort Extreme antenna connector up off the AirPort Extreme card. Add a comment

Step 20 If necessary, remove any tape covering the left speaker cable. If necessary, remove any tape covering the left speaker cable. Add a comment

Step 21 Lift the left and right speakers out of the rear case.

Lift the left and right speakers out of the rear case. The speaker cables are still attached to the logic board. The right speaker cable may be routed under the power button cable or the CPU fan cable (or both). If so, disconnect both cables by pulling their connectors away from the face of the logic board. Add a comment

Step 22 Disconnect the speaker cable connector by pulling its connector away from the socket on the logic board. Disconnect the speaker cable connector by pulling its connector away from the socket on the logic board. Pull the connector parallel to the face of the logic board. Add a comment

Step 23 Logic Board Pull the power button cable connector up off its socket on the logic board. Pull the power button cable connector up off its socket on the logic board. Add a comment

Step 24 Disconnect the ambient light sensor by pulling its connector up off the socket on the logic board. Disconnect the ambient light sensor by pulling its connector up off the socket on the logic board. Add a comment

Step 25 Disconnect the following four connectors by pulling them straight away from their sockets: Disconnect the following four connectors by pulling them straight away from their sockets: Camera cable. Microphone cable. Optical drive fan cable. Hard drive fan cable. One comment

Step 26 Disconnect the optical drive thermal sensor cable from its socket on the logic board. Disconnect the optical drive thermal sensor cable from its socket on the logic board. Add a comment

Step 27 Remove the two 7 mm fine thread T10 Torx screws securing the optical drive clip to the logic board. Remove the two 7 mm fine thread T10 Torx screws securing the optical drive clip to the logic board. Remove the optical drive clip. Add a comment

Step 28 Squeeze the two optical drive bracket ears together while pulling the drive up toward yourself.

Squeeze the two optical drive bracket ears together while pulling the drive up toward yourself. It may be helpful to hold the logic board down near the optical drive connector when pulling the drive toward yourself to avoid both components lifting together. Pull the optical drive away from the side of the rear case and remove it from the iMac. If your optical drive is particularly stubborn to remove, try the method used in the optical drive guide from the A1144 G5 iMac. 2 comments

Step 29 De-route the bundle of power supply cables from behind the hard drive bracket. De-route the bundle of power supply cables from behind the hard drive bracket. Some logic boards can be removed without taking out the hard drive. Add a comment

Step 30 Press the hard drive bracket down to free it from the rear case, then rotate the top of the drive toward yourself. Press the hard drive bracket down to free it from the rear case, then rotate the top of the drive toward yourself. Pressing the top of the hard drive bracket down to release it from the rear case requires a substantial amount of force, so we recommend laying your iMac stand-side down on a table to avoid knocking it over. Add a comment

Step 31 Lift the hard drive (with cables attached) straight up off its lower pins and remove it from the rear case. Lift the hard drive (with cables attached) straight up off its lower pins and remove it from the rear case. Be mindful of the hard drive cables, as they may catch on the logic board during removal. Add a comment

Step 32 Unplug the power supply cable bundle from the logic board by simultaneously depressing the locking mechanism (toward yourself) with a spudger and pulling the connector away from its socket. Unplug the power supply cable bundle from the logic board by simultaneously depressing the locking mechanism (toward yourself) with a spudger and pulling the connector away from its socket. The locking mechanism faces the rear case. Add a comment

Step 33 Remove the following six screws securing the logic board to the rear case: Remove the following six screws securing the logic board to the rear case: Three fine-thread 7 mm T10 Torx. Three coarse-thread 7 mm T10 Torx. Add a comment

Step 34 Be sure to touch the chassis before proceeding to discharge any static. Be sure to touch the chassis before proceeding to discharge any static. Grab the logic board from its left edge and rotate it out from the rear case, using your other hand to press the RAM arms in enough to clear the rear case. Be mindful of the ports attached to the rear of the logic board as they may stick to the rear case. Add a comment

Step 35 Pull the logic board straight out of the rear case, minding any cables that may get caught. Pull the logic board straight out of the rear case, minding any cables that may get caught. Add a comment

Step 36 Optical Drive Fan Pull the optical drive fan off the posts protruding from the rear case and lift it out of rear case, de-routing cables as necessary. Pull the optical drive fan off the posts protruding from the rear case and lift it out of rear case, de-routing cables as necessary. Add a comment

Step 37 Hard Drive Fan Pull the hard drive fan away from the rear case. If necessary, de-route the cables from under the chassis.

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