MBP behaving very strangely after spill damage - want to understand!

Hey guys,

So I followed the repair guide on ifixit to take apart and clean my MBP 15'' 2010 model after a liquid spill on the keyboard and top case. I left it several days and then tried to see if I could get it working. The result has left me with a semi-working computer but I have a few questions about the strange behaviour I have seen. I really hope somebody can answer them.

I took out the battery and with every cable removed, I looked if I could get any response when I plugged in the charger. The green light came on with nothing plugged into the logic board. I slowly plugged everything back in, and found that it was only when the keyboard itself was plugged into the logic board that the computer would not turn on. Question 1: Why is this? Does one shorted or damaged piece of hardware stop all function on logic board?

At the moment I am using my computer with an external keyboard, and powering on and off simply by plugging in the magsafe, which fortunately somehow seems to boot the system straight up. Question 2: I would like to ask, if anyone knows, why this happens?

Without the power button, I have no control over the computer powering on and off, and sometimes the green light on the charger merely flashes on and off, until suddenly it seems to boot okay and the fans whir into motion. Question 3: Why is this happening? Is this at all worrying?

At this stage, I think I am merely going to replace my upper case and my battery. From any of the behaviour described above, please let me know if you think there is more work to be done (i.e. replacing magsafe power or something)

Many many thanks to ifixit and anyone with time or mind to respond.


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1. Because the water spill shorted out (or left corrosion) in the power on circuit in the top case. 1a Yes it can - especially when there's one connector block for the power button, track pad and keyboard.

2. See above.

3. Because by continually using a water damaged machine corrosion is still building up. 3a It ought to be.

4. Without pictures (and sometimes even with - deepending on the resolution of the images) no one can say… it is entirely possible you are damaging the charge circuit with this continued use.

From your description alone replacing the top case may, or may not, solve all your problems (it certainly is a good place to begin). If corrosion has/is occurring on the logic board more components may become damaged. Look it over closely with a magnifier - you are looking for corrosion, burn marks or swollen components.

For some background and education you can follow two of the links at right to see what sorts of damage (an possible repairs) can follow a liquid spill on a laptop.

If this answer is acceptable please remember to return and mark it.

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Thanks man - you're a hero


machead, I wonder if I could follow up your words of wisdom with a couple more questions. I am still waiting for the upper case to arrive before I attempt replacement and must continue to use it for work.

It worries me what you say about continued corrosion - it has now been some months since the spill and I see no sign on the logic board of any damage. After the spill, there was some greenish discolouration on the hard drive and keyboard's logic board connections. I cleaned with a tooth brush. The hard drive plugs in with no problems and the computer boots.

When I plug in the keyboard, I get a solid green light from the power adapter, but no response at all from the computer. Why would a damaged keyboard do this? Rather than no green light at all...?

I am sorry if this sounds like the same question - I just really want to understand precisely how damaged parts effect and continue to effect the computer's functioning, and any possible worries I should have about continuing functionality.


The power adapter does not run through the top case (keyboard). The power on button does. The top case (keyboard) has layers - some of them may be damaged/corroding (only you can see that). Try a top case replacement and see if that's all you need.


If you're going to DIY study the guide and notes (not just look them over) before you begin. Purchase the recommended tools every job goes easier when you use the proper tools.


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Your keyboard has PP3V3_S4 and PP3V42_G3H going to it. These are voltage rails the system needs in order to work. If your keyboard is short circuiting these voltage rails to ground, then the system will not work. 99% of the time this does not happen, so it seems you are very unlucky. Please stop plugging the keyboard in because it will eventually screw up one of those rails for good.

You don't need to replace the top case unless you have an extra hundred bucks in your pocket to burn on replacing a bunch of things that still work just fine. Buy a keyboard and replace just that for starters.

Also, if this is an 820-2850 logic board(read number by webcam/wifi connector) in your machine, think twice before investing money into it. These boards work like crap when they are not spill damaged. Random kernel panics and distorted video issues. Apple is aware of it as they released a silent repair program for it, which is funny because eligibility for most people ended at the time they announced it. See here. http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203554

Good luck.

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hi louis. Thanks for your response. It is indeed a 820-2850, but since it was given to me for free by someone who thought it was broken, and since i found a secnd hand top case for 100 $, i think it's been worth the replacement. I've replaced the top case and am getting normal function as far as i can tell...

thjanks again for your explanations


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Ben will be eternally grateful.
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