Mid 2009 Model A1278 / 2.26 or 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo processor EMC 2326

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Water damage, boots, runs, battery won't charge

The backstory: My machine had missing foot pads. Some water spilled on the table, and the water wicked up through the open footpad holes, carrying some food with it. (Please con't judge my housekeeping...)

Once I discovered the problem I quickly took action to dry the machine out. I also opened the case and cleaned some gunk off the motherboard with electronic circuit cleaner.

After a day to fully dry out, the machine booted and ran just fine ... but now it won't charge. The green light on the power cable doesn't come on, and the battery doesn't gain any charge. The power cord was connected and the battery was draining while it ran, so I'm pretty sure the logic board wasn't getting external power either. I have tried my power cable on a friend's macbook pro, and tried their cable on mine, and the problem is definitely inside my case.

The water was in the end where all the external connectors were, including the dc-in port. Is it reasonable to guess the DC-in board was damaged? Is there a way to test this idea without just getting a new DC-in board and trying it?

So, what should I do next?

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What was the root of your problem? I just had this happen to me.

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First thing I would do is inspect the circuit for signs of component damage.

Bear in mind that we're working with very small components and often multi-layer circuit boards on this kind of device, so the damage may not be as obvious as you might think such as a whopping great black scorch mark across half the board.

Start with a quick visual scan of all the larger components looking for any signs of discoloration particularly around the legs of chips and capacitors. Sometimes you will see a small crack in a chip where the internal circuit has shorted and cause the case to split.

Sniff the circuit board (yes, get your nose in there) around any capacitors. If they have blown they give off a distinct very strong smell, I don't need to describe it because you will know it if it's there.

Then look for signs of corrosion around the metal legs of components, white powdery residue is a good sign of where unwelcome moisture has been.

If the board is not too heavily populated with surface components, hold it over a bright light and look through the circuit board itself. If it's a multi-layer board, there will be tracks running through the sandwiched layers of the board. These won't have come into contact with the moisture, but those tracks tend to be thinner than the surface tracks and if a short elsewhere has caused more current than usual to run through them, then it could be those buried tracks that burn out. You will see dark patches around the damaged areas.

If you manage to identify any of the above, then that's the best place to start your investigation into the components. Larger surface mount components can be easily replaced, some chips can be easily bought (particularly generic ones used in power circuits), but once you get down to the smaller components, then you will find it harder to fix them.

Hope that helps to narrow things down a bit for you.

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