Hanging a flat-panel TV over fireplace is risky

The Baltimore Sun

I have seen flat-screen TVs above fire- places numerous times. The salespeople at the leading electronics stores insist that this arrangement is fine for the TV. But they sell TVs for a living. Does the heat from the fireplace harm a plasma or LCD TV?

- Bob Richards

Bob, I would not mount a TV above a fireplace. That doesn't mean the heat would definitely cause harm. But the possibility seems real enough for it not to make sense to take a chance.

Plasma TVs already run a bit hot (LCDs run cooler). A deep mantel would deflect much of the heat. But since heat rises and the TVs are above the fireplace, the air will be hotter above the mantel.

Heat is an enemy of electronics. If you keep a roaring fire for a day or more, the bricks even several rows above the fireplace get warm. Damage from heat can be cumulative. It's unlikely that being near a heat source would zap a TV right away. It's possible it would do nothing. But anything that makes an electronic gadget hotter than the engineers envisioned is a bad idea.

I have been following the discussion on whether to turn the computer off or let it run all the time. There is another factor that I have not seen addressed in the discussion: Dust. With four people, two indoor dogs and two indoor cats, we have dust. Constant cleaning and high-efficiency filters on our heating/cooling units help, but airborne dust is always being sucked into the computer by its cooling fan any time it is running. It would be a service to your readers to remind them to do routine cleaning and to be conscious of dust when deciding whether to shut down their computer.

- Roger Newstrom

Excellent point. Anyone who opens the case of a PC - even in a spotlessly clean house - sees some dust buildup. Dust acts as a blanket and holds in heat that can harm a computer. It's a good idea to occasionally remove your computer's cover and gently blow out dust with a can of compressed air. Be careful not to blast right on circuit boards. All that said, dust is not really a factor in the on versus off debate because most people will use a sleep mode if they leave their computer on. In sleep mode the fan won't be on and your computer won't draw any more dust than if it were turned off.

Note from a reader

I used your tips for optimizing Windows. I have an XP machine and with only a couple of clicks it is faster. Then I had to do my laptop. Both are noticeably faster. And games on my wife's machine are faster. She likes me again. I also installed the 30-day version of Diskeeper. Really nice. I know it is worth $30, but it would be nice to find a free version like the anti-virus and anti-spyware you have suggested in the past.

Bill says: I'm glad it helped. I honestly do not know of a free program that combines both the ease of use and power of Diskeeper.


Bill Husted writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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