Spilling water or another liquid onto your MacBook keyboard can be worrisome, but there are steps you can take to give your MacBook the best chance of survival.
What happens when liquid is spilled on a MacBook keyboard?
When liquid is spilled onto a MacBook keyboard, it can damage internal components in a few different ways:
- Short circuiting – Liquid can cause electrical shorts and damage circuits or components.
- Corrosion – Liquid can cause corrosion over time, damaging connections or sensitive components.
- Interference – Liquid can interfere with connectors or moving parts, preventing proper function.
The extent of the damage depends on the amount and type of liquid spilled, as well as how quickly it is addressed.
How to clean up a liquid spill on a MacBook keyboard
If liquid is spilled on your MacBook keyboard, immediate cleanup steps are important to prevent further damage:
- Power off the MacBook and unplug it immediately. This helps prevent short circuiting or electrical damage.
- Invert the MacBook to drain out as much liquid as possible through openings or the keyboard.
- Absorb remaining liquid by blotting the keyboard gently with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.
- Do not try to shake out the liquid as this can spread it around.
- Once excess liquid is removed, allow the MacBook to air dry for at least 24 hours before attempting to turn it on again.
- Do not attempt to speed up drying with an external heat source like a hairdryer, which can push liquid further into openings.
When to take a water-damaged MacBook in for repair
If your MacBook suffers a significant liquid spill, it’s a good idea to take it to an Apple store or authorized service provider for inspection and possible repair, even if it seems to start up normally after drying out.
Signs your MacBook likely needs professional repair include:
- Visible moisture or residue inside openings or around internal components
- Corrosion on electronic connectors or circuits
- Shorting out, flickering screen display, or no video output
- MacBook not powering on or not charging
- Keys or trackpad not responsive or malfunctioning
- Fans continually running at high speed
- Any smoke, burning smell, or sparks from ports or circuits
A technician can thoroughly dry out and clean internal components, check for shorts and corrosion, and replace any damaged parts. This gives you the best chance for full recovery from a liquid spill.
How to prevent water damage to a MacBook
While accidents can always happen, you can take some preventative steps to avoid MacBook water damage:
- Keep drinks away from your MacBook when working.
- Make sure not to place MacBooks near sources of water like sinks or sprinklers.
- Use a waterproof case or cover when working outdoors or in rainy/humid environments.
- Keep young children and pets who may spill liquids away from MacBook area.
- Maintain desk area free of clutter than could lead to accidental spills.
- Consider investing in accidental damage protection plans for high-risk situations.
- Backup your data regularly so it can be restored if water damage occurs.
How effective are rice and desiccants for drying out a MacBook?
Sometimes people recommend using rice, silica gel, or other desiccants to help absorb moisture from a water-damaged MacBook. However, this method has questionable effectiveness.
The pros and cons of using rice/desiccants include:
While using rice or desiccants can sometimes work for smaller spills, it is generally better to take a MacBook to a professional after any significant water damage for proper cleaning and repair.
Is it possible to replace just the MacBook keyboard after water damage?
If a liquid spill is isolated to just the MacBook keyboard, it is sometimes possible to replace just the keyboard without needing to replace the entire top case or laptop. An Apple Genius Bar or authorized service tech can inspect and provide options.
The feasibility depends on factors like:
- MacBook model – Keyboard replacements are simpler on older models with removable keyboards vs. newer models with keyboard integrated into top case.
- Level of corrosion – Corrosion to keyboard connector cables may require further repair.
- Cost of components – Keyboard replacement alone may be only marginally cheaper than full top case.
Overall, a full top case replacement is more likely, but keyboard-only replacement remains an option depending on damage assessment. Discuss options with a professional during repair.
Does AppleCare or insurance cover MacBook water damage?
Water damage is often excluded from standard warranties, but you may have coverage in some cases:
- AppleCare+ – Covers up to two incidents of accidental damage, including spills. You pay a service fee.
- Home/renters insurance – May cover electronics damaged in a covered event depending on policy terms.
- Credit card insurance – Some cards include coverage for damaged devices. Check issuer terms.
- Third-party plans – Providers like SquareTrade sell protection plans covering accidental water damage.
If you have coverage, be sure to make your claim promptly after a spill incident for best results. Save receipts for any related repair costs.
How to recover data from a water-damaged MacBook
If important files are stored locally on your MacBook when water damage occurs, you may need data recovery assistance to salvage them. Options include:
- Apple technicians – May be able to recover data if damage is limited.
- Data recovery services – Specialists can attempt to extract data from damaged drives.
- Backup copies – Use cloud or external drive backups to restore lost data.
Avoid trying DIY data recovery, as this can make files harder to recover. Seek professional help quickly before corrosion worsens.
Can you fix water damage yourself? Tips and guidelines
It’s generally not advisable to try to fix a water-damaged MacBook yourself, but if you do attempt it use extreme care:
- Completely dry out all components before powering on.
- Check connectors for corrosion and clean with isopropyl alcohol if needed.
- Look for shorts and replace any damaged cables/wires.
- Remove CMOS battery and keyboards to reach hidden moisture.
- Use moisture monitoring tools to check for dampness in tight areas.
- Do not try to wash or rinse components.
- Work slowly and carefully to avoid further damage.
Again, it is highly recommended to take a liquid-damaged MacBook to a professional repair shop for best results. But if you wish to attempt a DIY repair, take all proper precautions.
Professional MacBook water damage repair: What’s involved
At an Apple store or authorized third-party MacBook repair shop, a full professional water damage repair typically involves:
- Initial diagnostics – Testing components for functionality and corrosion.
- Drying – Use of specialized drying tools and moisture sensors.
- Disassembly/cleaning – Taking apart MacBook and cleaning connectors, ports, circuit boards.
- Hardware replacement – Swap out any damaged or non-functional components.
- Data recovery – Attempts made to extract data from damaged drives if needed.
- Reassembly and testing – MacBook put back together and thoroughly tested.
This full repair process can take 1-2 days in many cases, depending on parts ordered. Expect a minimum charge of $300-800 for professional MacBook water damage repair.
Can MacBook water damage be repaired cheaply at third-party or DIY?
To save on costs, some people may consider third-party “discount” repair shops or DIY MacBook water damage repair. However, it is not recommended:
- Third-party shops often lack official Apple parts/training for proper repair.
- DIY attempts often fail to fully dry components or properly replace damaged parts.
- Further damage can result from improper repair procedures.
- Any savings usually nullified when full repair still needed from Apple/authorized tech.
Paying Apple or an authorized service provider ensures certified technicians conduct repairs properly with genuine Apple parts. This gives the MacBook the best chance of full recovery after water damage.
Best methods to dry out a wet MacBook yourself
Again, professional repair is recommended for any significant liquid spill on a MacBook. But for very minor spills, you may opt to try drying it yourself. Some best practices:
- Remove all power sources, battery included.
- Absorb excess moisture with dry soft cloths.
- Allow to air dry for at least 24-48 hours.
- Use a fan to circulate air and speed up drying process.
- Place in front of an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
- Do not shake excessively or use external heat sources.
- Check for hidden moisture in tight crevices.
- Reconnect and test only when completely dry.
Drying out a MacBook on your own takes patience and care. It may still be wise to get an inspection after to be sure all moisture was removed.
Typical cost for professional MacBook water damage repair
The cost for professional MacBook water damage repair varies based on service needed, but typical ranges are:
|Diagnosis||$60 – $150|
|Keyboard or trackpad replacement||$200 – $400|
|Top case replacement||$400 – $800|
|Logic board replacement||$500 – $1200|
*Based on rates at Apple and authorized third-party repair shops. Costs vary by MacBook model, parts needed, and location.
Turnaround time for MacBook liquid damage repair
The turnaround time for your MacBook to be fully repaired and ready after water damage depends on:
- Diagnosis time – Determining all damaged parts.
- Parts availability – Some may need ordered and shipped.
- Repair workload – Wait times vary by shop and season.
- Drying time – Ensuring no residual moisture left internally.
- Hardware repair time – Can take hours for full disassembly/cleaning.
- Software restores – Reinstalling OS, apps, data from backup.
For significant liquid spills expect 1-5 days for complete MacBook repair. Minor spills confined to keyboard may be repaired same-day. Discuss expected timeline when dropping off device.
Spilling water or liquids onto your MacBook can certainly cause damage, but does not necessarily mean the end of your device if addressed properly. Immediately powering off, carefully cleaning up excess liquid, and taking your MacBook to a professional for service can often result in successful repair and recovery.
Allow plenty of time for a thorough repair process. Have backups ready for any needed data recovery. Be prepared for costs involved in replacement of damaged components. And investigate whether you have any coverage through AppleCare, insurance, or other protection plans.
While liquid damage is never good, don’t assume it’s the demise of your MacBook. With the right steps and professional help, there is a very good chance your device can be revived and restored to fully functioning again.