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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

The Official "I spilled liquid in my MacBook, what do I do now?" Thread


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cwa107

 
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Here at Mac-Forums, we see quite a few questions about what to do after spilling liquid inside of Mac Notebooks. Obviously, liquids and electronics don't mix, so while the answer may seem obvious, there are a few tricks you can try to bring your equipment back to life.
  • First and foremost, immediately remove ALL power, this includes the battery (if possible). The chances of a short occurring as the liquid continues to travel within your machine are greatly reduced by removing power quickly.

  • Allow the machine to dry out for a significant period of time, preferably in an area of low humidity and with good air circulation. Generally this means a minimum of 72 hours. Longer time periods may be necessary depending on the ambient humidity level. Drying time may be decreased by sealing the notebook in a box with uncooked, dry rice or silica gel packets, which reduce humidity.

  • DO NOT test the machine until after you've allowed a significant drying period. Obviously, you're probably anxious to see if you're facing a hefty repair bill, but your patience will be rewarded. Generally, the longer you wait to plug it back in, the better.

  • Disassembling the machine to clean it will void your warranty - but then, if you spilled liquid in the machine, your warranty is void anyway. So, if you're comfortable with it, it might not be a bad idea to get in there and clean as best you can. Disassembly instructions are available at iFixIt.com Use lightly moistened cotton swabs to gently blot the liquid effected areas. Do not use any kind of solvents on the internals.

  • Spill damage is always very evident. Most electronics manufacturers, Apple included, affix liquid-sensitive stickers on the insides of machines to detect spills. Don't take the machine to an Apple Store, expecting a warranty repair.

  • If you power the machine on and find that it's not fully functional, or that functionality is limited, the damage is likely already done. You should not expect it to improve without replacing the systemboard and/or cabling and other components. In most cases, these repairs can easily exceed the value of the machine.

And finally, it makes no difference what the liquid was. The steps to take are the same for each type of liquid. Water, beer, wine, orange juice, apple juice, coffee with lots of sugar and cream, milk, soda... anything... if it's wet, then it's bad.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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alexroussos

 
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I probably should have read this post. Funny how you posted this so recently.

Any way, I spilled water on my macbook last night. More specifically, my macbook was on a pool of water, so I imagine it some how seeped in. The point is that I did not directly spill water on it. I turned the machine off and put the side that was exposed to the spill/pool into a bag of rice over night.

Anxious to see if it worked, I successfully powered on this afternoon. It powered on normally with no apparent signs of damage. The screen flickered off after the spill and there was some screen leakage, however that did not occur. I am, in fact, posting off it right now.

Is this okay? Should I be taking additional steps or can I presume everything i fine and I lucked out?

Thanks for your time,

Alex
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chscag

 
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You probably should have let it dry out longer than you did, but apparently you got lucky and everything is working. Keep a sharp eye out on it though because water damage can show up weeks or months later. That can happen because of corrosion.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexroussos View Post
I probably should have read this post. Funny how you posted this so recently.
Although it appears that this thread was just posted recently...it's actually a consolidation & revised thread of what previously was 10+ pages long.

So it's actually a long running thread...that was recently cleaned up.

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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macaholic24

 
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Just another horror story I suppose. I'm posting this because I really need some opinions on my experience at the Apple Store yesterday. I feel I was wronged but my judgement could be clouded by my current inability to accept this has happened to my computer.

My macbook was opened, not plugged in but it was on when the table was bumped into really hard yet accidently and an "unclaimed by anyone present" full beer that had been set down next to my computer (left side) tipped over and spilled out onto my keyboard. I was in shock at first and I honestly have never read up on what to do if a spill occurs, I ran inside and grabbed a towel and dried it off and then shut it down. In the few minutes prior to shutting it down it was functioning normally. I held down the power button and shut it off, then I researched a little about what actions to take and I put it in the tee pee sorta position and left it there with a towel under it all night.

At this point I knew to resist the urge to turn it on and I was trying to come to terms with the loss of the apple care protection I had debated getting to begin with. Out of the six Iphones and two macbook's I have purchased the plan for not once has it ever paid off for me, I know it's not the point but still it's hard not to feel like you got the short end of the stick after forking out money for INSURANCE which we all like to think of as protection against disaster then disaster strikes and your not only NOT covered but you also lost future coverage, if savable that is... ugh.

Anyway, I decided in the morning that I would go ahead and take it up to Apple, I've never taken a computer apart and didn't really feel confident in doing it, so I thought maybe they could open it up and at least access the damage for me. I'm not sure about most Apple Store's but the one we have just recently opened up in our local mall and hence has aproximately 30 teenagers that they call employees all running around with iphones and flirting with each other.

I assumed however that if it's a technical issue I would get a more professional qualified person to speak to about the damage, instead the guy I get stuck with looks just like the rest of them, but I know young people tend to know a lot more than myself, I'm 37 and my kids are more qualified in many technical issues than me so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and began the conversation by explaining to him beer was spilled on my computer last night and I told him what steps I had taken, he of course tells me it's not covered, I explain that I do understand that, he pulls my computer towards him, opens it up AND TURNS IT ON! As he's turning it on he's explaining that most computers will not recover from liquid damage and after that I have no idea what he said because I was frozen and fixated on my computer screen, it opens up as normal, the bars that run across the bottom as it's coming on appear, then flickering begins, he leaves it up, it flickers for about 2 minutes then suddenly a question mark appears in the screen and he then shuts it closed, doesn't turn it off or anything, just shuts it, he then tells me he can take my computer apart and look at it for me.

I agree to that and he goes to the back with it, then comes back 10 minutes later and hands me my hard drive, he explains it was a significant amount of liquid and his attitude about how bad it is forces me to accept it's hopeless, he hands me a card for drivesavers, inc data recovery, tells me it will cost a fortune but I may get a discount because they are somehow affiliated with Apple.

Honestly, everything he was saying was confusing me because he kept jumping around with subjects but nothing ever came together. He informed me I could take it home, let it dry out and then bring it back up and at that point he could send it to apple to see how bad the damage was?? I wasn't aware they didn't do the work there, but the whole experience frustrated me. I don't know if my judgement is clouded because I just don't want to accept the loss or if he handled the situation wrong because I really feel he shouldn't have turned it on before opening it up and I feel he could have caused significant damage by turning it on.

Maybe I was wrong for assuming the tech's were more knowledgeable in the area of liquid spills. Well, I brought my computer home, opened it up and I was a little shocked by the fact there really wasn't that much liquid inside of it, I do understand it doesn't take much to do damage but there wasn't much. It also really aggravates me that he didn't at least dry it off after opening it? He just left it wet and shut it back. I asked him when he came out if he was able to get the liquid out and he say's "No, we aren't allowed to do that" Well for goodness sake if he's not even authorized to remove liquid after opening it did he have any business turning it on?

Ok, I'm sorry for this rant, I just feel like he handled this wrong and I also feel he caused damage to my computer. I'd really appreciate opinions on it.

The biggest issue here for me are the photo's I had on it. My six year old son passed away this past December from a life long illness and it just breaks my heart to think I'll never see the last pics I had of him again.

Any opinions or advice would be very much appreciated.
Thanks,
Jen

Last edited by chscag; 04-15-2012 at 07:57 PM. Reason: Edited to make it readable. (wall of text broken into paragraphs.)
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mfkeena

 
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I spilled just a few drops of water on my keyboard. Just 3 keys were not working so I put it in a bag of rice for 2 days to let it dry. When I took it out of the rice none of the keys worked but the trackpad and power button did. I took the bottom part off (I have a white unibody 2009 macbook) and looked under the RAM to see if the water indicator was red. The indicator was still white but when I went to turn it on again it would not. Does anyone have any idea how or why this happened?
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chscag

 
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Quote:
The biggest issue here for me are the photo's I had on it. My six year old son passed away this past December from a life long illness and it just breaks my heart to think I'll never see the last pics I had of him again.
First, I'm very sorry about your six year old son. The loss of a child is always tragic.....

Here is what I suggest that perhaps can save you some money: If you have access to another Mac, you may be able to place the hard drive in a portable USB carrier and attach it to the working Mac. It's possible the drive has not been damaged and the photo files can be moved from the hard drive to the working Mac where you can further store them on DVDs.

If you send or take the drive to drive savers depending on the size of it, it may cost hundreds of dollars to recover the photos. I guess if it comes to that you will need to make a decision.

The best of luck with the recovering of the photos and keep us informed.
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macaholic24

 
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chscag -First, your right about the loss of a child, it's the single most tragic thing for a parent, really no words can describe how difficult it is.

Thank you for the advice regarding my hard drive (saving my pictures), I wasn't aware I could put it in my other macbook (shows you how much I know) but it seems I won't need to go that route.

It was very tempting to try and remove the logic board, I think the only thing that stopped me was not having a tri wing screwdriver, I really was just so curious how much liquid got into it but I just let it sit on the table with the cover off of it from the time I got home Friday until about two hours ago, giving it three days from the time the spill occurred. So I put it back together and pushed the power button....oh the anxiety, it took much longer to boot than normal, a solid minute passed but this time instead of going to the question mark as it had in the store the apple appeared, never been happier to see that apple before and finally, by some miracle, my user acct popped up in the usual way and everything seems to be functioning fine with the exception of a couple of things, my track pad is functioning to some degree but it's very difficult to control, no problems with the keyboard so far. I plugged a mouse into it and it seems to be functioning fine that way, although I have noticed my screen shake unexpectedly a couple of times but I honestly think it has more to do with the mouse than the liquid spill because it was an old one that I believe was having problems. One other thing is the light on my battery charger has remained amber even though I left it on the charger for a good bit of time so I don't know if that means my battery has an issue, it increased as normal on screen, going from low to high and I have an app called battery health I think and it says it's in the same condition as it was when I first got the app which was only days prior to the spill. I guess time will tell but for the moment I'm so relieved and my first order of business is backing up my photos. I've read several posts explaining that damage will likely still occur due to corrosion, but I really didn't see any liquid on the logic board, does that matter? Or is it more of what I don't see? Should I try to find someone to take it apart for me and clean it up? Is there anything I can do now that would save me from future problems?
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macaholic24

 
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mfkeena - I'm sorry about your macbook, I know what your going thru, I'm dealing with the effects of my spill as well. I know nothing about the inside components of the Macbook but in my hours and hours of research I've recently done on the subject I happened to come across a post from someone who had a spill and put their macbook in rice which somehow got into the keyboard and some of the side component slots as well which caused further problems, the poster stated in their frantic reaction to the spill they didn't remember to tape the openings. I was just about to try it prior to reading their post which made me reconsider. I just thought I'd mention it to you, I have no idea if it applies to your situation but it could be worth looking into, unless you took the right measures. Either way, I wish you the best of luck figuring it out.
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chscag

 
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Quote:
I've read several posts explaining that damage will likely still occur due to corrosion, but I really didn't see any liquid on the logic board, does that matter? Or is it more of what I don't see? Should I try to find someone to take it apart for me and clean it up? Is there anything I can do now that would save me from future problems?
First things first. Make sure the photos are safely tucked away on a DVD or CD and if possible, make two copies. Of course backup any other data that you feel necessary.

As to any future problems that may crop up, it's a toss up. Sometimes things dry out and no corrosion occurs. If you can find someone who would take the machine apart and clean it up and it won't cost you an arm and a leg to do, by all means do it.

I am a bit concerned about your battery and the charging cycle. That's controlled by the logic board which means that it's possible something may have been shorted out by the spill.

The important thing is that you were able to get your photos back and whatever data was on the hard drive. Even if the machine turns out to be a total loss sometime in the future, you can rejoice over the fact that the most important thing you treasure was not lost. You can always replace the machine but not those photos.
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MariG

 
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I'm just a one more person with macbook-water problems. I got a little bit of a water on a keyboard of my macbook. When I opened it, there was no water inside: seems like all of it was stuck under the keyboard. Now it seems like it is working ok, but it is making some strange noice while working, also it playes music only with headphones. Is there at least one chance, that water can evaporate and my macbook will work properly? It happened on thursday, four days ago. Sorry for bad english((
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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MariG View Post
I'm just a one more person with macbook-water problems. I got a little bit of a water on a keyboard of my macbook. When I opened it, there was no water inside: seems like all of it was stuck under the keyboard. Now it seems like it is working ok, but it is making some strange noice while working, also it playes music only with headphones. Is there at least one chance, that water can evaporate and my macbook will work properly? It happened on thursday, four days ago. Sorry for bad english((
I'm sorry to say that it's likely to get worse than better - especially since you've been using it all along.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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In fact I'm not using it, I write from iPod. I've just checked out it for a minute.
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Well strangely enough my MacBook seems to have had a full recovery from the horrible beer bottle spill. I last reported the trackpad was not functioning properly and when plugged into the power cord the light stayed orange but since that time my track pad has made a full recover and my power cord goes thru the charge process normally. It's absolutely flawless, well at least for now. I keep sitting at the table and only a few days after my last post I picked it up, carried out to the porch so i could sit outside and do some work (using a mouse still at that time), left it out there most the day, then out of nowhere the trackpad was perfect and has been ever since. I had already bought one off eBay for $49 to replace it. I've kept it just in case but it's as if nothing ever happened to it. I guess only time will tell.
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Some coffee was spilled on TOP my closed and sleeping MacBook pro (only 3 months old. Aluminum). I immediately wiped it off, powered off.

Is this enough to damage or ruin my MacBook??? I am freaking out.
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