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Member Since: Jun 14, 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 574
Chilbear is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: 2xiMac24 w Parallels 6 (1x White, 1x Aluminum), iPhone 3GS with iOS5

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Do you have the original OS disk (s) that came with your 21 iMac? If yes then insert Disk 1 and use it to start up from. Then Repair the HD using Disk First Aid but do not reinstall the OS - yet. If the repair of the HD goes as expected you will be good to go. If you get HD errors that cannot be repaired then try formatting and reinstalling the OS. Worst case is the HD is damaged and if under warranty will be repaired.
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