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Kyle Wiens
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What should I do after I spill liquid on my device?

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We get this question all the time. For some reason, people are very particular about the type of fluid. It's very important for people to tell you whether it was apple or orange juice that their kid spilled on their MacBook Air.

So what do you suggest? What has worked for you in the past?

Edited by: Sam Lionheart ( ) , machead3 ( )

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machead3
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Pull the power cord and remove the battery if possible.

No hair dyers or any forced air on/into a closed device! you'll only be spreading any liquid not drained around inside where you can't see or get at it.

In my opinion 72hrs is a conservative wait time for drying- hours or a day mean nothing Best way to dry it is to seal it with a desiccant like silica packs (though even something like pasta can work in a pinch) or in a room with a dehumidifier.

Liquid and electrons don't mix. You really ought to open and dismantle the device as much as possible so that you can clean up, rinse off any residue that's right if it's already wet you can wash it and clean it so that there will be no corrosion occurring later. Spraying with a DIELECTRIC electronic contact cleaner, and/or 99% alcohol will also speed the drying process (70% alcohol contains too much water).

Forced air on the open parts is OK, but if you're in a humid environment packing up with desiccant in a trash bag or rubbermaid container and making changes over three days or so would be better.

There's been a lot of well I spilled on laptop my keyboard, but itstill worked at first..., If you're lucky enough not to kill it straight off, then at least remove, clean and dry the keyboard best as possible before continued use. With many laptop designs there's ''nothing between the bottom of the keyboard and the RAM, FAN, Optical Drive, and all the other parts of the logic board but AIR

N.

Edited by: machead3 ( )

I have to say that your comment "no forced air" is not the first one I've seen. However, on a plane trip from Phoenix to Boston, I spilled water on my netbook. I immediately unplugged the battery, and wiped it down but it wouldn't function at all. When I got to Boston, I went into the bathroom (I cannot recall if it was the train station or the airport) where they had these super high fast air hand dryer things that both suck and blow warm air to dry your hands. It worked. I just pulled back the screen as far as it would go and held it in there for 3-5 minutes. It worked perfectly. However, I will say if it was beer or wine or any other "gets sticky when it dries" liquid, I wouldn't have tried the hand dryer option, and certainly would have not used one of those older REALLY hot hand dryers. But the new super high speed air/vacuum units did the trick.

Nate,

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Miroslav Djuric
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I actually wrote an article called "Spills that Kill." You can read the full text here.

Excerpt from the article:

"Here’s a few tips in case a spill ever happens to you, whether it’s on a laptop any other electronic product:

  • Don’t panic. Panic just complicates things.
  • Remove power to your device as fast and soon as possible. If that means not saving your blog post, so be it. You can always view the auto-save, but there’s no auto-save function for your logic board.
  • Shake out any liquid as soon as the device is turned off.
  • Let the device dry in a manner that is conducive to getting the liquid out. If it’s a laptop, place it upside-down on a counter and let it relax for a day or two.
  • Possibly disassemble parts of the device to verify that it’s dry, and/or to use a hair dryer to finish the job.
  • Cross your fingers, and turn the device on."

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leibnitz
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I am an electronics engineer, so trust me when I say;

No hair driers please!

Hair driers can actually melt solder, depending on solder's composition. Improper heating of solder will result in porous solder with increased electrical resistance, also known as "cold" solder. You need a microscope to actually be able to see this.

Best possible solution is to disassemble the computer as suggested on other answers. Use DIELECTRIC spray, it is specially designed to clean electronic components without damaging the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) or electronic components, you can use a tooth brush if you are extremely careful. Do not do this in a hurry, this requires a lot of patience.

When disassembling, it is extremely important to use antistatic precautions, specially if you live in a place where air is dry. Or house heating is used, especially electric heating.

At the very least you must discharge yourself by touching an electrical ground. Like your computer's chassy (if its metallic) while STILL connected with a properly grounded power cable (you must touch where there is NO paint, usually the back of a desktop would be unpainted).

If you want to be really safe you would need to buy an anti static wrist strap so that you are connected to ground ALL the time you are working with your computer.

You can get a ground connection from your wall sockets IF your sockets are PROPERLY grounded.

If you are thinking that this is all an exaggeration consider that you could have anti static shoes, anti static pants, ant static shirt and anti static gloves, also the floor you step on could be anti static.

If data on your computer is important, you can remove the Hard Drive and read its information by connecting it to another computer, even if yours does not work any more.

You can do it!

Good luck!

I have to disagree. As a 30year bench technician I have used heat guns and hair dryers extensively. I have never melted any solder with them. I put the heat control on warm, not hot. I let it blow on the part for 2 days and maybe more. Just do it with good judgment is all.

cns,

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Reed
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I've heard that covering the device with rice is a good way to help suck water out :)

Not a bad idea, but you might want to make sure you rotate out the rice. I almost want to create some experiments to see if this works...

Nat Welch,

I tried the rice method a couple of times, but it's a pain getting that rice out of the machine afterwards. It even creeps under the logicboard, etc. I use silicia bags instead now.

remacberlin,

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mac605
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Call from another office: "Macbook flooded with cup of coffee! Help!". "Remove battery, put some paper towels on keyboard, turn it upside down, send it to me".

It was really flooded, even HD was covered with coffee, of course HD containing VeryImportantDataNeededASAP. I removed logic board from HD and washed it in denatured alcohol, dried, reassembled, and it worked.

Macbook warranty was over, so I decided that I have nothing to loose. I took another Macbook, went to ifixit.com and started disassembling it completly - http://bit.ly/2cDOva. I washed keyboard and logic board in denatured alcohol too, lefr it for weekend to dry, then reassembled it.

It worked like charm, I was pretty surprised :)

and then accidentally I spilled denaturated alcohol on another Macbook, that forced me to dissasembly it too (thx ifixit again) and learned me a lesson: ALWAYS SEAL THE BOTTLE!!!

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miguelb
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I helped a friend with an iPhone 3G that took a shower in a cup of tea and I just left the device open for 2 days and reassembled it.

In his case the LCD got some black lines and the battery died.

After the replacement of these parts it was new again.

Before doing this REMOVE THE BATTERY if possible.

In the case of salt water, juice, coffie you can wash it with distilled water, in the case of salt water even with tap water is better then nothing.

Then just leave it drying for some time if possible open.

There is a more specific product that sometimes I use that is Kontakt Chemie PCC.

http://www.soselectronic.com/a_info/reso...

Edited by: miguelb ( )

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Designprof
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I wouldn't recommend Acetone as it is a solvent for plastics and could do serious damage to case parts. However, in addition to Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol, I would recommend a rubber cement thinner like "Bestine", found in art supply stores.

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Designprof
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In the case of digital cameras, remove the battery asap. Otherwise the flash charging circuit could short out sending high voltage across the motherboard.

Then use one of the appropriate iFixit procedures to remove the back cover of the camera. Let it air dry, for a week before touching it. Reassemble and hope for the best.

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Nate
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I literally just spilled beer on my laptop last night and it wasn't a pretty little dot of beer either on the palm rest. Just picture foam all over my keyboard and touch pad.

Problem: I needed to update a financial spreadsheet last night so I was unable to wait. I had to fix this asap.

These are the simplified steps I took and then below I'll explain why and how you can save your laptop without having to let it sit for days/hours what not if this happens to you.

Beer Spill Save:

1. Immediately unplugged, popped out battery and tilted the laptop forward in an inverted V shape on my table so fluid ran out of the laptop onto the table while wiping the laptop off.

2. Wiped off table and laid down place mats/towels/whatever for a dry work space.

3. Disassembled (hard drive first, keyboard, palm rest) only what I had to in order to access affected areas as quickly as possible.

4. Dabbed everything off with a towel first and cleaned with alcohol on a q-tip. Inspected everything else to ensure nothing else was contaminated.

5. Let sit for a few minutes (mostly to take a deep breath and drink the rest of my beer across the kitchen) and reassembled/tested.

Note: If you submerge something in liquid, or let it sit long enough with the liquid while the power is on, this technique will probably not work for you. The trick is REMOVE ALL POWER AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. Also some laptop models are just made so they are impossibly difficult to disassemble / repair.

TIPS TO SAVING YOUR LAPTOP:

Pre-spilling beer techniques:

1. (Obvious) keep your drinks away from your laptop.

2. Have no bones about it. Something will be spilled on your laptop at some point for sure. Maybe not by you, but assume it will happen. Especially if you have animals or kids or both.

3. Have the tools and manual to disassemble your laptop (either before or right after you buy it). Take it one step further and don't buy a laptop if you cannot find the manual for it. In fact, when I bought this laptop, I did so specifically because it only has two sizes of screws

4. Practice removing the battery and power cord until you can do it quickly (within 2-3 seconds is best). Don't buy a laptop that requires special tools to remove the battery. Laptop fatalities can be greatly reduced if you know this.

5. Know that chances of saving your laptop are greatly increased if the liquid spilled on it is just water. Beer, wine, anything with sugar or milk or what not will be a pain but not always fatal.

POST spilling techniques.

See Beer Spill Save above.

If you aren't home, don't have tools, etc, there's still hope.

1. Unplug and remove the battery as quickly as possible. Removing power reduces the chances you'll arc a connection with whatever you spilled. It's not guaranteed but it's the best shot you have.

2. Dab off the unit as quickly as possible with napkins and paper towels or anything else you can find (other people's clothes, etc) and swap dry towels for the damp ones as much as possible.

3. Keep the unit wrapped in napkins or paper towels. Swap with dry ones when necessary.

4. Follow steps 1-5 (Beer Spill Save) above as soon as possible or bring to a repair shop if you cannot do it yourself.

I've spilled liquids on every laptop I've owned, and it wasn't until I learned my lesson a few times (and a few thousand dollars later) that I learned to avoid fatalities.

Hope this helps.

Edited by: Nate ( )

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Rishabh Kirti
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Hey guys. I had to share my experience of liquid spill on my macbook air and in my case it was milk. My gf accidentally spilt a full glass of milk all over my keyboard. I panicked right away(which is the worst thing to do) and got a cloth and the first thing i did was inverted my MBA like an inverted V and tried cleaning it. I took it to the Mac Store in order to get it cleaned right away so that damage to vital parts could be avoided and she said liquid spills are not covered. My heart was crying out as she said that chances of it switching back on are remote as when the spill happened my mac was on. But to god's grace I write this from my mac itself. So here are the steps I suggest immediately after the spill :

1) Invert the MBA like an inverted V and wipe it with a cloth in order to let all the liquid spill down onto the floor. (Do not Panic, work with ease as its already happened and the best thing is to make sure it works fine now,)

2) open the back case with a screw driver and disconnect the battery no need to remove it just disconnect it from the power source on the motherboard itself. Look for liquid spots in case of milk/soda/wine or look for water in case of water spill.

3) Take a cotton bud and wipe out all the liquid. (Do not use your bare hands to touch any part as each and every part is very delicate. Use cotton buds). Then use Denatured alcohol or thinner to remove the sticky drops in case of wine/soda/milk or any sweet drink. Dip the cotton buds in the thinner/denatured alcohol and clean the parts where you see a stain. If its a liquid spill like water you dont need to use denatured alcohol.

4) after cleaning the mac, take a sack of rice about 5 kgs and put in your mac there. Rice helps remove all the moisture from the parts

5) leave it like that for a day or two. In my case i left it for 2 days

6) Remove the mac from the sack of rise and use a soft bristled brush to clean the rice grains stuck in delicate parts. Be very cautious and patient. This takes time, but you are going to be more than ready for that coz its ur MAC.

7) Put your mac directly under a bright light source like a bulb and leave it there with the back exposed to the light, for 1 day.

8) take ur mac,join the battery to power source again on the mother board and join the back cover on.

9) Do NOT try to switch it on directly. Plug your Charger into the MBA and then try switching it on.

10) It worked..:D The JOY, limitless. The only issue I am facing is that keys are a little sticky and not elastic like before, but there are tons of videos online to clean your macbook.

11) CHEERS and hope this helps you. Do not panick. Jus follow the steps. And hopefully its gonna work.

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Anky
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Well, the simplest thing is to [though it's not that simple] dismantle your product and clean. There is little you can do other than that.

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Oric
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I remember from my chemistry classes in collage that we would use acetone to dry beakers as it would remove any remaining moisture. I have also seen on u tube that isopropyl alcohol has been used in addition to rice (in a sealed container) that was mentioned in an earlier response.

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fredflintstone
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Dessicant available in a drug store works really well too. Just seal it up with the device in a box or cooler, and leave for a few days.

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brem
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I would say remove any form of power main or battery

Turn laptop back over onto side fluid entered so can run back on itself and exit

If you are confident remove ram covers Ram some HD and CD/DVD drives can also be removed usually with 1 or 2 screws dab dry if needed before fluid dries as may become hard or sticky Spraying with an electronic contact cleaner or alcohol based to stop corrosion later .

Leave to dry for some days maybe in airing cupboard someware dry not hot .

When powering back up leave all items above removed were just looking to see if it powers up think battery might be best first option as lower power level and AC rather than hitting it with DC higher power level.

Then power down add ram boot up again power down add CD/DVD boot again Now was thinking might be worth running live Linux disc before adding hard drive to test USB sound and anything else you can think of Not sure if it would just be wasting time or a good way of testing before adding hard drive Before this step might be worth connecting HD to adapter with other pc and copy just in case.

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Trayvin
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Put it in a bag of rice for a couple of hours

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Paull
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Applies to any electronic device:

De-power as soon as possible

Disassemble as soon and as much as possible

wash with Alcohol, rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, or surgical spirit is best. Even Dunking completely is ok

Alcohol will not do damage, and because it is Hygroscopic, it absorbs any residual waters from the flooded item, then all that remains is to allow the residual alcohol to also dry out. Keep in mind capillary action can keep the liquid under SMC's for some time, so some time for drying out is recommended. Dont add heat!

If the flooded item was drenched in Coffee, Soda, fruit juices, you may as well re-flood the disassembled components with fresh water before the alcohol, as you need to also remove sugars, acids, and whatever else may be contained therein

Sorry, same applied for Vodka, Brandy, Scotch etc, they are not pure enough alcohol, heh

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Denis Mahony
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I've had this problem more than once. My method is to wash the pcb in water + detergent. Then rinse thoroughly and use a vacuum cleaner (carefully) to draw the residual water from the pcb. I think this has a greater chance of success than using a hairdryer, since it will also extract any particulate matter that may be lurking.

Works for me :)

D.

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Ryan Sheppard
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if it is a soda spillage then take the battery out and place the device in a bath of cold water, then what you want to do is to remove the motherboard and give it a spray with contact cleaner from WD-40. its a hit or a miss with this fix. good luck

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Rany
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I had some experience with liquid spills: water, wine, screen cleaner, etc.

In addition to all what was written above, I would add:

- Go about it slowly. Don't generalize, due to the so many places liquids can seep into and the extensive list of reactions, shorts, and damage they can cause.

- Some means that seem extreme can be used when nothing else works and you have nothing to loose. Just do it gently and don't force it.

- If it's working at first, and starts "working less," then stops working, it usually is due to corrosion.

- If a whole "unit" is not working instead of parts of that unit (example: some key vs. the whole keyboard, or 1 button vs. the whole trackpad), it can be useful to look at the gate e.g. connectors and sockets for those connectors.

- Completely dead is usually easier to fix than part dead, speaking from the experience I've had. Have faith :)

I'll illustrate with a few examples:

- An unusual fix? I had a Vaio trackpad with coffee spilled in it, that wouldn't work. It was sandwiched between two layers of glued/fused thin plastic and couldn't be removed without breaking the plastic layers. Before breaking it apart, I sprayed some WD40 a few times, let it soak then drain out over the course of a couple of hours, and it worked since. 1 year now and no complaints from this now happy return customer.

- Works than stops working / corrosion: a client brought a MPB drenched with water, for us to have a look. Another service center had quoted $900 the cost of replacing the mother board.

At first the MBP "mostly" worked fine apart from the HDD which was clicking (due to a drop that happened before the water damage). Some keys from the keyboard that were not functioning after the spill. Corrosion marks and liquid marks were all over the motherboard and the inside of the case.

By the time I was able to work on it the 2nd day, the trackpad had stopped responding whereas it was working before. Then the MBP wouldn't start. I deduced that corrosion was eating away at the board and the connections between the MB, the on/off button, and the trackpad. Cleaning them with contact spray & isopropyl alcohol did not solve it. So I sprayed WD40, and very gently scrubbed the corrosion on the board and the tip of the connecting flat cables, using a used/soft toothbrush to avoid damaging any solder joints. Those may have become fragile due to corrosion. As a result everything worked again except some keys on the top case which had to be replaced. The repair ended up costing less than $400, including our fee, the cost of the HDD and a replacement original top case.

- Part vs. full dead: a new mid-2013 MBA was brought to us after the owner spilled wine on the keyboard. The keyboard and trackpad were both completely dead/unresponsive. It was weird because usually a spill would kill some keys on the keyboard and not ALL the keyboard would become unresponsive.

I was still unfamiliar with this model, so I used a guide from iFixit to take it apart and study the insides. I noticed that unlike previous models of MBPs that I had worked with, this MBA had a flat cable connecting the motherboard to the trackpad, then another cable connecting the trackpad to the top case: so no direct connection from the top case to the motherboard. And no traces of corrosion anywhere, just some spill marks on the trackpad, the connecting flat cable, and its socket.

I cleaned everything with isopropyl alcohol while scrubbing ever slightly, but no luck..

I examined the cable using my 20x scope, and found the culprit: the electrolytes from the liquid, combined with the electric current traveling through the cable caused the gold or copper on the tip of the cable to migrate from one pin to the other. Now all the pins connected and caused the cable to short. This issue was not apparent to the bare eye. Looking through the scope, I used a needle (nothing thicker would do) to scrap the metal between the pins to remove the short. I put everything back together and the MBA worked like a charm. All the keys on the keyboard also worked perfectly. This guy was lucky. I gave him back his laptop and ordered a replacement cable since I figured this one was a bit "diminished" and needed to be changed later on. But the owner has yet to come back and have it replaced :)

Edited by: Rany ( )

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Fredrick Rodgers
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I am an A+ Certified computer technician, and have dealt with this problem many times. I recently used this post to help with a MacBook Air spill, and found it to be very informative. In the spirt of contribution, here's what I have to offer (Full disclosure: I now practice law, so please forgive my excessive footnoting):

My time tested method for emergency liquid extraction from a closed keyboard. (Please note: this assumes that you know and follow the vital steps mentioned in earlier posts (e.g.g., shut off asap, clean with alcohol). It also does not fully address the long run corrosion concerns that come with non-water spills. This process is about minimizing the risk of damage by immediately extracting as much liquid as possible.

UPDATE: I took an example picture for illustration: (View Image).

Step-By-Step:

(FYI, I use asterisks ("**") to indicate footnotes. Read the footnotes.)

  1. Supplies Needed:
    1. Clean, static free, work table/enviorment.
    2. A regular kitchen-type funnel (see example image), I use one w/ a 10" diameter.
    3. A Shop-Vac.*
  2. The Process:
    1. With power off, place PC** on static-free table.***
    2. Make sure that you have dryer, and cleaned, the exterior of the PC.
    3. Set the funnel on the keyboard****, wide-part facing down. Begin with the area of the spill.
    4. Take the extension hose from you Vac and place it over the small end of the funnel. *****
    5. Turn the Vac on and leave it on for about 5 minutes.
    6. Move funnel to another part of the keyboard and repeat until you're satisfied.

Footnotes:

* A regular Vac with a detachable hose will Prob. work but I've never tried...whether it'll generate too much static is my concern there.

** I recognize it's a Mac, but PC is 33% faster to type. lol.

*** PC should be in regular open position.

**** This should go without saying, but don't place the funnel in such a way that it will turn the PC on (e.g., by pressing the power button).

***** The idea is to use the funnel to distribute suction force across the entire area beneath the funnel. Think about a plunger, minus the "plunge."

Good Luck!

Edited by: Fredrick Rodgers ( )

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