Can a water damaged laptop be recovered?

If your laptop gets exposed to water, it can often be recovered and restored to working order. However, the steps you need to take depend on the extent of the water damage.

What to do if your laptop gets slightly wet

If your laptop only got a little bit wet from a small spill, there are some basic things you can try to dry it out and recover it:

  • Immediately unplug the laptop and remove the battery.
  • Absorb any excess moisture with a microfiber cloth or towel.
  • Stand the laptop upright and leave it open to air dry for at least 24-48 hours.
  • Don’t try to turn on the laptop until it’s fully dry.

With only light moisture exposure, these steps may allow the laptop to fully dry out and function normally again once powered back on. Just be patient during the drying process.

What to do if your laptop gets very wet

If your laptop was fully submerged in water or exposed to a large spill or flooding, more extensive disassembly and drying will be required for any chance of recovery:

  • Immediately power off and unplug the laptop.
  • Remove the battery and any other removable components.
  • Disassemble the laptop case and internal components as much as possible.
  • Rinse components with 90% isopropyl alcohol to displace moisture.
  • Dry components with compressed air.
  • Leave components separated and air dry for at least 72 hours.
  • Reassemble the laptop and test it after complete drying.

The goal is to fully disassemble and thoroughly dry out all internal components before attempting to power on again. Air drying gives moisture a chance to evaporate instead of short circuiting electronics.

What are the chances of recovering a water damaged laptop?

The chances of successfully recovering a water damaged laptop depend on a few key factors:

  • Amount of water exposure – Was it a minor spill or full submersion?
  • Drying process – How quickly it was powered down/disassembled and allowed to dry out.
  • Laptop design – Some models have better water resistance or accessible components.
  • Component damage – Prolonged moisture can short circuit and corrode electronics.

With immediate action for minor spills, there is a very high chance of recovering a laptop and avoiding permanent damage. The odds get progressively worse as water exposure increases. After full submersion, there may only be a 50/50 chance even with proper drying steps.

Signs your water damaged laptop may be unrecoverable

Here are some signs that the water exposure was too severe and likely caused irreparable damage:

  • Corrosion visible on the motherboard or other components.
  • Internal components that feel overly gritty or dirty when handled.
  • Laptop doesn’t power on at all, even after thorough drying.
  • Laptop powers on but is unstable, crashes frequently, or has hardware/software errors.
  • Distorted or cracked visual display even when powered on.

If you suspect permanent component damage, it’s best to take the laptop to a professional repair shop for inspection instead of trying to keep powering it on.

Tips to maximize chances of water damaged laptop recovery

Follow these tips to safely handle and dry out a water damaged laptop for the best chance of a successful recovery:

  • Don’t try to turn on the laptop if any moisture is suspected.
  • Immediately cut power by removing battery and unplugging.
  • Disassemble components as much as possible to dry individually.
  • Rinse with isopropyl alcohol before drying.
  • Use compressed air to blow out moisture in crevices.
  • Allow 72+ hours for thorough air drying time.
  • Inspect internally for any corrosion before reconnecting power.
  • Consider professional data recovery if critical files were on the laptop.

Avoid the temptation to try powering up the laptop before it’s fully dried, as this can short circuit components. Patience is key for maximum recovery chances.

When should you take a water damaged laptop to a professional?

It’s a good idea to take a water damaged laptop to a repair professional if:

  • You don’t feel comfortable disassembling and drying it yourself.
  • There are signs of corrosion or permanent component damage.
  • It won’t power on or has functionality issues after DIY drying steps.
  • You need data recovery from the hard drive.
  • Important business or personal data was stored locally.

Professionals have specialized tools and methods for safely drying out and examining electronics internally. They may be able to recover data from an unbootable drive and repair or replace damaged components in some cases.

Water damaged laptop repair costs

Costs for professional water damaged laptop repair vary widely based on the severity of damage and what needs replacement. Here are some typical repair cost estimates:

Repair Type Estimated Cost
Component cleaning and drying $100-$300
Motherboard repair/replacement $200-$500
Screen repair/replacement $200-$400
Hard drive recovery $500-$1500+
Full laptop replacement $500+

Liquid damage often impacts multiple components. Total costs can easily exceed $1000+ in some cases, making a new laptop more cost effective.

Can you recover a laptop after full water submersion?

It is sometimes possible to recover a laptop even after full submersion in water. The key is quickly getting it powered down and disassembled so components can thoroughly air dry. Tips include:

  • Immediately cut power – remove battery and unplug.
  • Disassemble all components possible and let dry 72+ hours.
  • Use compressed air and isopropyl alcohol rinse to displace moisture.
  • Watch for corrosion and degraded performance once reassembled.
  • Get professional help if you run into issues or need data recovery.

With rapid action, luck, and replacement of any unsalvageable parts, waterlogged hardware can potentially be restored to working order. Just keep expectations realistic.


Recovering a water damaged laptop is possible but depends on the exposure extent and proper drying steps. For minor spills, quick action can often save the laptop with minimal permanent damage. More extensive water exposure raises the challenges and reduces the chances of a successful DIY recovery. In more severe cases of liquid damage, seeking professional assistance will give you the best odds of restoring performance and recovering critical data.