Do MacBooks have a water sensor?

MacBooks, like most modern laptops, contain liquid contact indicators that are designed to detect potential water damage. These small stickers, located in vulnerable areas inside the computer, change color if they come into contact with liquid. This triggers a sensor that alerts users if water or other fluids have infiltrated the computer.

Water damage is one of the most common ways that MacBooks can malfunction or become unusable. If liquid seeps into the internal components, it can short circuit the logic board, damage ports and connectors, and corrode electronic parts over time. According to Apple’s own estimates, 11% of MacBook damages are related to liquid contact (Macbook water damage statistics 2021). So Apple has implemented water sensors to detect potential fluid damage early before it causes irreparable issues.

This article will provide an overview of the water sensors in MacBook models, where they are located, what happens if they are triggered, and tips to prevent and address any water-related incidents with your laptop.

What are Liquid Contact Indicators

Liquid contact indicators (LCI) are small sticker-like sensors located inside electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. They are designed to detect the presence of liquid, such as water, to alert the user of potential water damage.

According to Manila Shaker, LCIs are also referred to as “water damage tape, water damage stickers, liquid spill indicators or water indicators.” When liquid makes contact with the LCI, it changes color, usually from white or pink to red. This color change is irreversible.

LCIs are often located near openings or ports where liquid is most likely to enter, such as near the SIM card slot, battery compartment, or I/O ports. They provide a visual indication that liquid has gotten inside the device at some point.

Do MacBooks Have Water Sensors?

Most modern MacBooks do contain internal liquid contact indicators, often referred to as water sensors or spill sensors. These sensors are tiny stickers located in areas prone to liquid exposure like around the logic board, battery, trackpad, keyboard, vents, etc. The sensors are designed to detect the presence of liquid intrusion and change color from white/silver to red if they get wet.

According to sources like Macs can detect water in USB-C ports, MacBooks have included these liquid contact indicators since around 2013. They provide a visual indication that liquid entered the computer. The sensors react to any non-conductive liquid including water, coffee, soda, alcohol, etc. Once triggered, the dot turns red permanently.

The sensors allow Apple technicians to quickly identify water damage during hardware diagnostics. Finding red indicators gives them proof that liquid affected the internal hardware, which can then void the warranty if the damage is not covered.

Where are the Sensors Located?

MacBooks have small stickers inside called Liquid Contact Indicators (LCI) that act as water sensors. When exposed to liquid, these stickers will turn red or pink.

The location of the sensors varies between MacBook models:

  • In the 2016-2019 MacBook Pro 13″ models, there are LCIs near the trackpad cable, logic board, and bottom case (Source 1).
  • The 2019 16″ MacBook Pro has sensors near the trackpad, logic board, speakers, and bottom case.
  • The M1 MacBook Air (2020-) places sensors near the logic board and trackpad (Source 2).
  • In the 2013-2015 MacBook Air, sensors are located by the I/O board and trackpad.

In most models, Apple strategically positions sensors in areas most likely to get wet like near ports, vents, or the trackpad.

What Happens if Sensors are Triggered?

If the liquid contact indicators in a MacBook detect the presence of liquid, they will turn red or pink and cannot be reversed. This triggers an LCI diagnostic code that will be displayed if the MacBook is taken to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider for repair.

According to discussions on the Apple Support Communities forum, the presence of this diagnostic code from triggered liquid sensors is sufficient grounds for Apple to deny warranty coverage for any water damage repairs [1]. Even if the computer seems to be working normally after a spill, Apple’s policy is to follow the diagnostic codes rather than functionality in determining warranty coverage.

In fact, some users report being denied free warranty repairs even for unrelated issues once the liquid diagnostic code is present [2]. For example, the keyboard or trackpad could fail later on, but Apple may still attribute it to the earlier liquid exposure rather than cover it under the warranty.

Essentially, once liquid tripped sensors have turned red/pink, Apple considers that MacBook to have pre-existing water damage. Any issues that arise with the computer after that point would likely be considered a result of the water exposure rather than a separate mechanical breakdown eligible for free repair under warranty.

Can Sensors be Reset or Bypassed?

Unfortunately, there is no way for users to reset or bypass the liquid contact indicators in MacBooks. The sensors are built into the logic board and cannot be accessed or modified. Once they have been triggered, the damage is permanent and irreversible.

Some people claim that baking a water damaged MacBook in an oven at a low temperature can reset the sensors by evaporating any residual moisture. However, Apple does not recommend this and says it may further damage the computer. The sensors are very sensitive and designed to permanently change color even with minimal water exposure.

The only way to get a MacBook with tripped water sensors to work again is to replace the entire logic board. This is often an expensive repair, sometimes costing nearly as much as a new laptop. For this reason, Apple generally refuses to service MacBooks where the liquid contact indicator has been activated, even if the computer appears to function normally otherwise.

The bottom line is that MacBook water sensors cannot be reset. Once moisture triggers them, they will remain activated. While some users look for DIY ways to bypass them, this is not recommended by Apple or repair professionals. The best approach is keeping liquids away from MacBooks to avoid sensor activation and resultant logic board damage in the first place.

Water Damage Without Triggering Sensors

It is possible for a MacBook to sustain water damage even if the built-in liquid contact indicators are not triggered. The sensors are located near critical components and connectors, but they do not cover the entire logic board or other internal areas.

Small amounts of liquid could seep into crevices and cause corrosion over time without being detected initially. The sensors act as warnings but are not foolproof. For example, a few droplets could land between the keyboard keys and drip inside without hitting the strips.
Residual moisture left after a spill, high humidity levels, and condensation can also degrade components without triggering the indicators right away.

According to discussions on Apple support forums, some users have encountered liquid damage on MacBooks despite no sensor being activated. They suspect minor spills, vapor, and moisture entered through tiny openings and gaps in the casing.1 In some cases, the issues surfaced days or weeks later, often signaled by random shutdowns, display problems, or wonky behavior.

The takeaway is – while the sensors offer a good warning system, their absence does not guarantee a MacBook has avoided liquid damage entirely. Careful inspection and cleaning may still be required after any exposure to moisture, even if subtle. Not relying solely on the sensors to verify water contact is wise.

Tips to Keep MacBooks Water-Safe

There are several precautions you can take to help prevent liquid damage to your MacBook:

  • Avoid placing drinks near your laptop. Use a separate table or surface for beverages.
  • Invest in a laptop spill cover or silicone keyboard protector. These barriers can block minor spills from reaching internal components.
  • Store your MacBook in a protective case or sleeve when not in use. This protects it from accidental spills in your bag.
  • Keep your MacBook away from sinks, tubs, pools, and other sources of water.
  • Make sure to dry your hands thoroughly before using your MacBook.
  • Consider getting additional AppleCare+ coverage for your MacBook. This provides coverage for accidental damage from spills.
  • When traveling, keep your MacBook in a water-resistant bag or compartment.
  • Avoid eating or snacking when using your MacBook to prevent crumbs and spills.

Taking simple precautions can greatly reduce the chance of getting water on your MacBook. Be mindful of liquids around your laptop and utilize protective accessories when possible.

Signs of Water Damage

There are a few key signs to look out for that may indicate water damage on a MacBook Air or other MacBook model:

  • Discoloration or staining on the exterior case, especially around ports or openings.
  • Blurry spots or fogginess underneath the screen due to moisture.
  • Keys or trackpad not functioning properly or acting erratically.
  • Battery unexpectedly draining faster.
  • Corrosion around charging ports or other openings.
  • Fan making abnormal noises as it tries to dry internal components.
  • System crashes, kernel panics, graphics issues, or other glitches.

If your MacBook Air exhibits these or other unusual behaviors, it’s a good idea to have it inspected by an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Water damage often progresses over time, so it’s best to get it checked even if problems seem minor initially. The sooner any issues are identified and repaired, the less likely the damage will worsen and lead to larger failures down the road.



In summary, MacBooks contain liquid contact indicators that can detect when water or other liquids come into contact with certain internal components. The sensors are located on the logic board and battery of most MacBook models. If triggered, these sensors will turn red, indicating water damage has occurred. This can void your warranty and make future repairs challenging and expensive.

While sensors can sometimes be reset or bypassed, the underlying water damage still remains. The best approach is to keep liquids away from MacBooks entirely. Be careful when drinking around your laptop, keep it away from pools and spills, and avoid exposing it to rain or other wet environments. If accidental water damage does occur, immediately power down your MacBook and seek professional help. The quicker you act, the more likely important components can be saved or data recovered.

With proper care and caution, MacBook water damage can often be prevented. But if sensors do get triggered or other issues emerge, signs like corrosion, screen glitches, battery issues and system crashes may indicate liquid has still impacted your device. Catching and addressing any water contact early is key to minimizing long-term problems.