The top two fan screws (odd looking, long plastic dowels that turn about 90 degrees to lock) were actually loose, so I unfastened the bottom ones, removed the whole thing save for detaching the power line and dusted it. It took about a half hour to reposition it because of the top two never feeling secure but I figured it was on about that good before I had opened it to begin with.
Upon starting it up, the POST was the same, as I figured, but after what I assume to be the BIOS load screen right before the XP loading screen, the computer automatically restarted itself and continued into a restarting loop before it could POST every time... and could only be stopped by unplugging it.
I opened her back up in dismay and found the fan hanging off, out of place. I did more research and found that the metal square in the middle of the fan was once attached using some kind of thermal paste, as I can see the residue from the original.
Can anyone tell me if this start up problem is indicative of the motherboard understanding that the fan is not applied correctly and is just safeguarding itself, or is there a problem other than this that I might have created by opening it up? I would like to know before replacing the video card and getting some thermal paste if my motherboard has some other severe problem that needs to be remedied another way.
My computer is about five years old, has never had any problem like this before and has all it's original parts (which makes sense as to why the video card would simply have gone bad). I don't tax it very much with gaming anymore and only use it for data storage and the internet. Thanks to anyone who can spare even a bit of knowledge on this specific predicament.