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Robert Ciaccio
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Liquid Spill, Should I perform complete teardown?

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I spilled hot tea from my left side while using my macbook. I had it upside down within about 1 second and the power off within about another 2-3. I was using a moshi keyboard cover so I think very little to no liquid entered around the keys.

However, the tea did hit the screen, the left speaker area, and the trackpad. I wiped down any external liquid and left it propped open, upside down. It's been sitting for about 48 hours so far. I was unable to remove the battery because I don't have a tri-wing screwdriver.

I don't plan to try turning it on until at least 72 hours have passed.

I'm wondering if as a precaution, should I completely tear down the machine and remove any residue that may be inside before attempting a power up.

If so, is it possible to do a teardown without voiding the warranty? I have a feeling that with the very small amount of liquid that made it into the case, the liquid sensors might not have even been affected, but I don't want problems in the future or no recourse in the event of problems that weren't caused by the liquid spill.

Update

Went to Fry's today (meh) and picked up some bit driver kits. I tried Radio Shack and they had none of the bits that I needed. Fry's had two different kits that contained tri-wing bits, and many kits that contain philips 000/00 and torx 6, but no kits that had all 3. So I ended up buying 2 kits, and I was pretty sure that the tri-wing bits were too big, but they had nothing smaller.

The Teardown

Turns out I was right and I ended up using a small flathead that worked at first but stripped the @@@! out of the middle battery screw. If you don't have the right bit to remove those screws in a pinch or an emergency, I'd suggest using a small pair of grooved pliers and just turning them from the outside so you don't have to replace the screws later on when your real screwdriver arrives from ifixit :). Bye Bye Warranty! Oh well, I can't stand the genius bar anyway and I don't have apple care :P

With the stress of preserving the warranty out of the way, I ripped off that stupid battery warning sticker and went to work. I've got the logic board completely removed, and I have to say that I have only seen one trace of tea in the entire assembly. It's on the strip of plastic tape or whatever it is that covers the left speaker from the inside, looks like a small stain. It really appears that the stuff covering the inside of the speaker enclosure is actually liquid proof, though I don't really want to test my hypothesis. This thing is relatively well protected from small spills compared to other laptops I've torn apart.

Checked all around the trackpad, no sign of tea. Checked all over the logic board, no sign of tea. I think I've actually reached the point where I'm going to forgo the rest of the teardown and give it the all clear.

The Upside

Pulling this sucker apart got me thinking about what I might be able to get away with now that I've got it open... and now I am unable to resist leaving it apart for a few more days and ordering an SSD to replace the optical drive. :)

The moral of the story

If you're an idiot like me who puts beverages on chair arms teetering above your month old macbook, for the love of all that is holy, buy and install a moshi keyboard protector. If you do spill, flip that sucker upside down as quick as you possibly can while holding down the power button at the same time. Wipe down any external liquid, taking care not to push any of it into any crevices.

Next, prop it open upside down, immediately find another computer, go online, order a solid state drive and an optical bay enclosure, wait 3 days or until your package arrives (whichever is longer), and tell your wife you need to pull it apart to clean it out as a cover for adding a sweet-@*# second drive :)

Final Update

Finally got it all put back together and it works great! I ordered a screw set from ifixit and wiped everything down so well that I really don't think I would even have a problem if I took it in for warranty service. For those that might wonder, the battery sticker is really easy to put back on, even if you rip it off in a fit of rage :)

Thanks and I love this website!!!! :)

Edited by: Robert Ciaccio ( )

+ for a well written question, they are rare here.

Majesty,

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Majesty
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You have taken the proper steps. I would open the machine and do a clean up, just to make sure nothing is in there that can cause problems in the future. And yes, opening your machine does void the warranty. But, you have taken the proper steps, if you decide to open, clean it up with isopropyl alcohol (90%) and cotton swabs. You're stuck between a rock and a hardplace, if you dont clean up you run the chance of running into problems, if you open the machine you void the warranty. But if u dont open for cleanup and run into problems in the future those liquid indicators will void your warranty. I say you open the machine very carefully and clean up without leaving traces behind. Good Luck

Edited by: Majesty ( )

Thank you for your reply. What does apple base a warranty void on? Is there a particular piece of equipment or sticker that indicates to them that you have opened the machine? Are you not even allowed to remove the bottom cover?

Robert Ciaccio,

Yes, They look for damage or scuffs on screw heads and they place several stickers in key areas, if im not mistaken I believe your model has one on or around the battery.

Majesty,

Honestly, thats a new and VERY expensive machine, I have seen too many "Liquid Spill" horror stories to keep any beverage at least 4-5 feet away from my machine. Your precaution and wise steps saved your machine most likely, so keeo that beauty AWAY from liquids. :o)

Majesty,

You'll get no argument from me.... hindsight being 20/20 and all :)

Robert Ciaccio,

+ Solid answer and good advice.

Taylor Arnicar,

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Majesty
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I'm glad to see things worked out for you, and turned it into a + by upgrading while inside. I did the same on a torn apart macbook. The steps you took immediately after the spill saved your machine!!! good luck.

Edited by: Majesty ( )

Indeed, and your quick answer saved me the heartache of making the decision to risk voiding my warranty :) I'm actually quite happy with the way it turned out. Now I better understand my macbook's internals and don't have to rely on the "genius" bar. I brought it in there about a month after purchase because the bottom case was making strange creaking noises. The guy said he'd take it in the back and take a look. He came back literally 1 minute and 56 seconds later (I know this because I checked system log timestamps for sleep times based on when he closed it and when I opened it back up after he brought it back out). He said that he had removed the bottom cover and found nothing out of the ordinary, and had others look at it and they thought it was normal as well. I don't really like being lied to, and even with expert hands and specialized tools, I doubt they would have been able to remove the cover, inspect it, and put it back on in less than 2 minutes including walking time to and from.

Robert Ciaccio,

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