What is the Keyboard Backlight attached to?

Mar 4, 2010
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Hey there.

A while back I spilled some milk on my macbook pro 15" old model (NOT the unibody) keyboard and although I finally got the sticky keys issue sorted out (I spent a good 5-6 hours on my day off taking off all the keys and cleaning them, and then putting them back), the backlight of the keyboard doesn't illuminate the entire keyboard anymore.

I went to my local Apple store's genius bar and they told me that by replacing the keyboard (for a mere $150 USD), I would also be fixing the backlight. I took my macbook pro to my local MacTek, however, to compare what they would quote me for replacing the keyboard, but THEY said that in order to replace the LED light I'd have to replace the top case, and the keyboard alone wouldn't do it.

Then I take it back to the Apple store (MacTek was more expensive due to their having to order parts) and ask them about it and this time they tell me that I WOULD have to replace the top case to fix the LED, which alone would cost $300+. Obviously not worth it just to fix the backlight when nothing else about the top case is visibly wrong.

Then I get a little curious when I get home and google for the makeup of the keyboard and find a site with pictures that show the LED IS actually part of the keyboard O_O I dunno what to believe here.

Assuming my goal is to fix the LED keyboard backlight, just what is it that I'd have to replace? Note I've looked up a lot of how-to and fix-it guides, but I'm really not a mechanic...I don't have any warranty anymore but I'm almost certain I'll end up breaking something if I try opening it up.

EDIT: After looking up some more how-to videos on the subject, I've discovered that my problem might not be the LED, but rather the reflective backing of the keyboard itself. For example, perhaps the milk got caked on to the backing and the light from the LED can't spread all over the keyboard. If that was the case it would make sense that only the middle row of the keyboard lights up.

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