Computer motherboards don't often malfunction through normal use, but when they do, it may be difficult to figure out why. In part, this is because there is often no visible physical damage. Common reasons for a fried motherboard can include static shock, power surges, excess heat, parts failure or general mishandling. Many other, more complicated technical problems can be the reason for failure as well.
Static electricity is probably the most common reason for a motherboard to be fried. When handling computer hardware, such as a motherboard, it is important for a person to discharge the static electricity that has been built up in the body. This charge, if transferred to the motherboard, may short-circuit its components, rendering it useless. A person can discharge static by touching a piece of metal before beginning work on the computer. Working on an anti-static mat or a hard floor is also helpful; operating a computer with a carpet underneath you can build up static charges and is not recommended.
Power surges and damaged power supplies are also reasons for a fried motherboard. A power surge can occur during a storm, and a computer that is not plugged into a surge protector has a chance of being damaged. A surge protector will help shield the computer's parts from shock. Even if a motherboard is unharmed during a power surge, damaged power supplies can cause it to break down after a while. Power supplies that do not output the recommended wattage may also cause issues with the motherboard.
Overheating, dust, and dirt are also common reasons for a motherboard to fail. If the board has been placed in a computer case that is very small or poorly ventilated, it can easily become overheated. If the case has not been outfitted with a properly working fan, there is no way to move excess heat away from the parts. If the fan is clogged with dirt and rarely cleaned, it cannot properly cool the system. Dirt can also build up inside the computer case and cause problems, making regular cleanings very important.
Cheaper motherboards may have a tendency to fail more quickly than others, since faulty capacitors may cause problems on those that are not well made. This type of damage may actually be visible, such as when the capacitors are leaking or bulging. Improper handling can also cause problems with the motherboard. The board contains many small, fragile parts, and holding it the wrong way could bend or break those parts. A motherboard should always be carried and held by its edges in order to avoid contact with its components.