Ordinarily when one hears the term rust applied to an electronic of any kind, a vision pops into your head of something old. Unfortunately, rust can actually happen on USB, HDMI or card reader ports for electronics even under a year old, given the right set of circumstances.
The difference between rusting and tarnishing
Tarnishing is the discoloration of a metal due to oxidation and almost always happens first. All metal components on a computer eventually tarnish and it’s unavoidable. Rust happens next unless the metal is the non-rusting type like stainless steel.
Rust is very obvious, easily visible and usually begins its appearance as little dark red dots.
Which is most susceptible to rust? USB port, HDMI port or card reader slot?
The HDMI port. Why? Because it has the most metal exposed. After that the USB port comes next, then the card reader slot.
Don’t be surprised if the HDMI port on your Xbox 360 has rust on it if it’s over 2 years old.
Why do some ports rust so early in life?
Cheap steel and corners cut in production processes.
What accelerates rust on ports?
Any room where the humidity gets too high or if the electronic is sitting close to an open window.
“Uh-oh! I spotted rust on a port! What do I do?”
It can be cleaned, but you have to be extra-careful about it.
If the port is tarnished, the best thing to do is just leave it alone. While it might be ugly, it still functions the same as it always did.
If you see actual rust, this is how to clean it:
(Disclaimer: Do this at your own risk)
1. Buy a small box of emery boards, as in the things people use to file their fingernails with. Alternatively you can buy a sheet or two super-fine-grit sandpaper.
2. Buy a can of compressed air if you don’t already have one.
3. Buy a small can of clear Rust-Oleum.
4. Buy a set of small paintbrushes used for model cars and things of that sort.
5. Take the emery board or sandpaper and gently scrub off the rust. It should come off easily.
6. Spray a few spurts of compressed air to get rid of any metal filings that got inside the port.
7. Take your can of Rust-Oleum and then spray the tip of the paint brush. DO NOT spray it directly on the port itself.
8. “Paint” the Rust-Oleum wherever you took rust off. Do not touch the small board in the middle of the port with the brush, and solely concentrate on the metal portions.
9. Let dry for about 10 minutes.
10. (This is optional.) After drying, apply another coat of Rust-Oleum and let dry again.
Will the Rust-Oleum prevent proper contact?
No, because it’s most likely true the rust is only on the outside of the port and nowhere near where the connection is actually made.
You have to put a light coat of Rust-Oleum in the places where you scrubbed off the rust or the rust will come back, and very quickly.
No, this is not a solution “for life”. Eventually the Rust-Oleum coat will wear off at some point. But at least it slows the rusting process down a good deal.
On a final note, some of you may be compelled to check the HDMI port on your expensive televisions after reading this. If you see tarnishing or rust, I’m sorry if I just ruined your day, but those ports weren’t exactly built with high quality in mind.
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