Water can absolutely damage Apple keyboards. Apple keyboards, like most consumer electronics, contain sensitive electronic components that can malfunction or short circuit when exposed to liquids. Water damage is one of the most common ways that Apple keyboards can break.
What types of water damage can occur?
There are a few main ways that water exposure can damage an Apple keyboard:
- Short circuiting – Water can bridge connections and create shorts in the keyboard’s internal circuitry. This can lead to key presses not registering, erroneous inputs, or complete keyboard failure.
- Corrosion – The minerals and impurities in water can corrode and degrade the keyboard’s electronic components over time, leading to reduced reliability or failure.
- Residue/Contaminants – Dissolved solids and contaminants in water can be left behind as it evaporates, interfering with electrical contacts and moving parts.
- Oxidation – Water exposure can initiate oxidation on metal electrical contacts and joints, which can interfere with connections.
What types of water pose the greatest risk?
Pure, distilled water poses the lowest risk for damage, while other common liquids can be more problematic:
- Tap water – The minerals and metals in tap water increase the risk of short circuiting and corrosion.
- Soda – Carbonated beverages like soda contain sugars and acids that speed up corrosion and can gum up components.
- Coffee – The oils and dissolved solids in coffee leave residue and speed corrosion.
- Saltwater – The high mineral content greatly increases the risk of short circuiting and rapid corrosion.
- Alcohol – Sugary alcoholic beverages residue and conductive nature increase the damage potential.
What Apple keyboard models are at risk?
All Apple keyboard models have some degree of vulnerability to liquid damage. Some notable at-risk models include:
- Butterfly switch keyboards – Found on MacBook Pro/Air models from 2015-2019. Very thin and prone to failure from specks of dust, let alone water.
- Magic Keyboard – Used on current MacBooks. More durable but still not waterproof.
- Apple Wireless Keyboard – Popular standalone keyboard. Very difficult to disassemble and dry out inside.
- Smart Keyboard – Keyboard for iPads. Direct water exposure can damage internals and key adhesion.
- Older plastic keyboard models – Found on 1990s-2000s iMacs. Liquids seep inside cracks.
What are some common water damage problems?
Some specific issues that tend to arise after water exposure on Apple keyboards include:
- Sticky/unresponsive keys – Individual keys may not work properly or feel sticky.
- Repeating keys – A key pressed once registers multiple times from a short.
- Non-functional keys – Complete failure of one or more individual keys.
- Error messages – Some keyboards show water damage warning lights.
- Trackpad failure – Liquid seepage can also damage the integrated trackpad.
- Short circuits – Partial or complete keyboard failure from electrical issues.
How can water damage be prevented?
Some tips to help avoid liquid damage to your Apple keyboard include:
- Keep liquids away from keyboard – Avoid eating/drinking near your computer.
- Use a waterproof cover – A plastic cover can protect against minor spills.
- Disable liquid sensors – Prevent “water damage detected” error messages.
- Raise computer off floor – Reduces risk of damage if floor is wet.
- Learn proper cleaning methods – Use compressed air instead of liquids to clean.
- Inspect under keys – Check for crumbs/debris that may hold moisture.
- Open computer on towel – Absorbs moisture in the event of a spill.
What should you do if your Apple keyboard gets wet?
If your Apple keyboard does get exposed to liquid, take these steps right away:
- Unplug the keyboard immediately and power off the device to prevent electrical damage.
- Drain/dry out as much liquid as possible from the keyboard using a towel or shaking it out over a sink.
- Detach the keyboard if possible. For laptops, flip it upside down to let liquid drain out.
- Dry the keyboard thoroughly for 24-48 hours before attempting to power on again.
- Use compressed air to blow out any remaining moisture from crevices.
- Inspect for corrosion, sticky/unresponsive keys, and other damage before reconnecting.
The quicker you can remove power and dry out the keyboard, the better chance it has of recovering from any water exposure.
Can a water-damaged Apple keyboard be fixed?
Water-damaged Apple keyboards can often be repaired, but the extent of the damage determines whether repair is cost-effective compared to replacement. Some factors include:
- If corrosion is present, this may require replacement of electronic components or internal flex cables.
- Individual key issues can be addressed by cleaning or replacing key mechanisms.
- For butterfly switch keyboards, replacement of the entire top case module may be required.
- If short circuit damage is extensive, replacement may be cheaper than in-depth repairs.
- Older keyboard models tend to be easier and cheaper to repair than newer ultra-thin versions.
For liquid damage beyond minor spill cleanup, it’s recommended to seek professional Apple keyboard repair to determine if the keyboard can be fixed or needs to be replaced.
How much does Apple keyboard water damage repair cost?
Costs for Apple keyboard liquid damage repair can vary significantly depending on the model, type of damage, and who performs the repair:
|Repair Type||Estimated Cost|
|DIY cleaning of minor spills||$0|
|Third-party repair of older desktop models||$50-$100|
|Apple Store replacement of Magic Keyboard||$100-$150|
|MacBook Pro top case replacement||$300-$700|
|Out of warranty repair at Apple||$300-$600|
Liquid damage is not covered under Apple’s standard 1-year limited warranty. AppleCare+ can reduce out of warranty repair costs.
Is Apple keyboard water damage repairable at home?
It’s possible to repair minor spills and water damage at home on some Apple keyboard models. However, extensive disassembly is often required, so attempted DIY repairs have some risks:
- Desktop keyboards like Apple Wireless Keyboard can sometimes be opened to clean and dry internally, if done very carefully.
- Butterfly switch MacBook keyboards are extremely difficult to open without damage, not recommended.
- Individual keycap removal on Magic Keyboards allows access to clean stuck keys.
- Short circuited or corroded electronics may require soldering skills to replace.
- Further keyboard or logic board damage is possible if incorrect reassembly techniques are used.
Unless the damage is very minor, it is safest to seek professional Apple service for any significant keyboard liquid damage to avoid the risks of improper home repairs leading to further issues.
How can you protect an Apple keyboard from water damage?
To best protect an Apple keyboard from possible water damage:
- Use a waterproof keyboard cover to prevent spills from directly contacting the electronics.
- Never eat or drink around your Apple desktop or laptop computer.
- Store computer on an elevated surface, safely away from potential water hazards if flooding occurs.
- If the computer is used outside, ensure it’s only on fully dry surfaces and kept covered in dry conditions when stored.
- Shut down and store the computer away from humid areas like bathrooms when not in use.
- Check that no liquids or moisture are present on hands before using an external Apple keyboard or built-in laptop keyboard.
While no keyboard is 100% waterproof, being mindful of these precautions can greatly reduce the chance of liquid damage occurring from common accidents.
Can you submerge an Apple keyboard in water?
No, Apple keyboards should never be submerged or held directly under running water. The internal components are not waterproof and will very likely be damaged.
The only exception could be a brief accidental submersion that is immediately addressed. In this case, follow the steps above for a wet keyboard – immediately unplug, drain as much water as possible, and dry thoroughly for 24-48 hours to give the keyboard a chance of recovering.
However, intentionally submerging any Apple keyboard will almost certainly destroy the electrics and mechanics beyond repair or cost-effective fix.
Is it possible to make an Apple keyboard waterproof?
There is no official way to fully waterproof an Apple keyboard, but there are some possible DIY solutions:
- Enclose the keyboard in a watertight case – Some companies sell custom keyboard bags/enclosures for this purpose.
- Apply water-resistant treatments – Special sprays or silicone sealants could help repel minor moisture.
- Add physical barriers – Carefully lining the inside with plastic/rubber could prevent internal liquid contact.
However, these solutions are not guaranteed and have downsides like inhibiting heat dissipation or keyboard responsiveness. Your best option is preventing exposure to liquids rather than trying to waterproof the keyboard after the fact.
In summary, Apple keyboards can sustain significant damage from water and liquid spills. The sensitive internal components are not designed to withstand moisture exposure. Quick action is required after any keyboard gets wet to prevent permanent electrical and corrosion issues. While repair is sometimes possible, replacement is often the more cost-effective solution for anything beyond minor cleaning. Ultimately, prevention is key – using keyboard covers, keeping liquids far away, and proper cleaning methods will help safeguard your keyboard from faulty keys, shorts, and untimely demise due to uncontrolled water damage.