Spilling liquid on your MacBook can be a scary and frustrating experience. Your expensive laptop may suddenly stop working, or behave erratically. Keys can stick and components can short out when liquid seeps into the inner workings. However, all is not necessarily lost. Many liquid spills on a MacBook can be fixed with some careful cleanup and troubleshooting. Here are some tips for salvaging your MacBook after a liquid spill.
Assessing the Damage
When liquid gets inside your MacBook, it can damage several components:
- The keyboard – Liquid can short out the keys and keyboard connector cable.
- The trackpad – Spills can interfere with clicking and tracking.
- The logic board – Liquid reaching here can short circuit the components and connectors.
- The battery – Spills can corrode battery terminals and wires.
Problems may not happen right away. Damage can slowly spread as liquid evaporates and deposits contaminants. So don’t assume your MacBook survived unscathed if it still powers on after the spill. Problems could show up later as corrosion sets in.
Immediate First Steps
If your MacBook is still on when liquid is spilled on it, immediate action can help reduce the damage:
- Carefully unplug all cables and devices.
- Power off the laptop if it is still running.
- Unplug the power adapter.
- Turn it upside down to drain out as much liquid as possible.
- Pat the outside with a dry towel to soak up any liquid on the case.
- Do NOT try turning it on again until it has dried thoroughly.
Powering off the laptop quickly can prevent shorts and damage while liquid is still inside. Upside down draining allows liquid to safely exit openings rather than seep deeper inside.
Drying Out the MacBook
Once you’ve done the immediate first steps, the next goal is to thoroughly dry out the MacBook’s interior. Any remaining liquid needs to be evaporated before it can cause corrosion.
Leave it Powered Off and Open
Don’t attempt to turn on your wet MacBook! Power can make liquid conduct electricity and short out components.
Leave the laptop powered off until you are sure no moisture remains inside. Open the MacBook so more airflow can evaporate the liquid faster.
Absorb Moisture with Rice
One common recommendation for drying out wet electronics is to bury them in a bowl or bag of rice. Rice will gradually draw moisture out from the small openings.
Leave your MacBook buried in rice for at least 24-48 hours to thoroughly dry interior spaces. Check on it and stir the rice occasionally to expose all sides.
Use Desiccant Packets
Desiccant packets are extremely moisture-absorbent. They work well for drying out cell phones or other small wet devices.
For a MacBook, you may need a large number of packets to cover the whole device. Check regularly and replace with fresh desiccants as they absorb moisture.
Try a Drying Box or Fan
A drying box with desiccant material can thoroughly dry out a MacBook’s interior. The constant low heat accelerates evaporation.
Alternatively, point a fan directly at your open MacBook to speed up moisture evaporation. This works best if you can raise your laptop vertically so air flows inside.
Wait at Least 48 Hours
However you dry your MacBook, be very patient. Wait at least 48 hours before attempting to use it again. Less time risks moisture still being present inside. More time won’t hurt if you want to be cautious.
Check for Remaining Moisture
Before powering your MacBook on after liquid exposure, check for any remaining moisture:
– Inspect ports, buttons, openings for droplets or wet areas.
– Feel backside and bottom case for damp spots.
– Shine flashlight inside ports and openings.
– Check for condensation on the screen glass.
Any lingering moisture could mean interior components are still wet. Wait longer until it has fully evaporated.
Cleaning Up After Liquid Spills
Once your MacBook is fully dry, it still needs a thorough cleanup before use. Liquid can leave behind minerals, sugars, and other contaminants after evaporation.
Wipe Down Exterior
Use microfiber cloths and rubbing alcohol to thoroughly wipe down the entire exterior case. Clean crevices, speaker openings, port holes, and bottom vents. This removes any residual liquid or contaminants on the surface.
Inspect and Clean Interior
If you are comfortable opening up your MacBook, inspect the inside for any remaining moisture or buildup. Use cotton swabs and alcohol to gently clean the logic board, connectors, fans, and any corroded areas. Be very careful not to damage any delicate components while cleaning.
You can also use compressed air to blow out any residual liquid in crevices or fans. Just avoid blowing liquid deeper into openings.
Clean the Keyboard
The keyboard is very vulnerable to liquid damage. Thorough cleaning is crucial to reviving sticky or unresponsive keys:
– Remove key caps and spray compressed air underneath.
– Wipe down each keyswitch with rubbing alcohol using cotton swabs.
– Check the keyboard connector for corrosion and clean with alcohol if needed.
– Leave keys off until you are sure the keyboard is completely dry.
Scrub Other Components
Other parts that commonly fail after water damage also need thorough cleaning:
– Clean the trackpad contacts with alcohol and a toothbrush.
– Remove battery and clean corroded terminals with a pencil eraser.
– Carefully clean the MagSafe DC-In board pins if corroded.
Fixing Liquid-Damaged MacBook Components
If cleaning up your MacBook didn’t restore normal function, specific components may need repair or replacement after liquid damage.
Revive a Wet Logic Board
Carefully drying out and cleaning the logic board can fix many spill-related problems. Try these steps:
– Gently scrub corrosion from connectors with alcohol and a toothbrush.
– Clean corrosion on solder points using pencil eraser rubbing.
– If traces are damaged, professional microsoldering may be needed.
– Replace any shorted out surface-mount fuses.
– Sometimes baking a wet logic board can help if done properly.
Replace the Keyboard
If a keyboard has stopped working reliably after water or liquid damage, replacement may be necessary. MacBook keyboards can be very difficult to disassemble and properly clean. Installation is straightforward on most models with some basic tools.
Swap the Trackpad
Like keyboards, a MacBook trackpad that is glitchy or unresponsive after a spill can often be fixed by replacing it. The repair is fairly simple with the right precautions. Just be gentle disconnecting the delicate ribbon connector.
Try a New Battery
Batteries contaminated by liquid can lose capacity and stop holding a charge. Corrosion on the battery terminals can also prevent normal function. In many cases, putting in a new battery will get a liquid-damaged MacBook running again.
Replace Other Failed Parts
Other parts that commonly fail after liquid damage include the speakers, DC-In board, SSD, and display assembly. You can replace any of these components individually if they stop working properly after a spill. Just take precautions against ESD when handling boards. Look up repair guides specific to your MacBook model.
Preventing Future Spill Damage
After resuscitating your water-damaged MacBook, you’ll want to avoid repeating this experience. Consider these tips to protect your laptop from future spills:
Use a Protective Case
A well-designed case can block small spills from reaching vulnerable components. Look for tight-fitting cases touting spill protection. Just take your MacBook out immediately if it does get wet.
Ban Drinks Near the Laptop
Liquids like coffee, soda, and water are by far the most common MacBook killers. Never place drinks right next to your open laptop. Knocked over containers are inevitable.
Watch for Condensation and Leaks
Condensation from temperature changes can dampen your MacBook just like spills. And some bags can leak during rain. Always stash your laptop in a waterproof sleeve when coming inside from cold weather or wet conditions.
Insure your MacBook
Accidents happen, so consider electronics insurance to cover out-of-warranty liquid damage repairs. This can save you from expensive board replacements or a total loss. Just read policies closely for exclusions and limitations.
Back Up Important Data
Even if you can rescue your MacBook, data loss from liquid damage is possible. Always maintain backups of your irreplaceable documents, photos, and other files. The cloud and external drives help protect against spills and failures.
Spilling liquid on your MacBook can certainly create big problems. But paying attention to these tips can often salvage a seemingly doomed computer. Quick action limits damage, thorough drying avoids corrosion, and cleaning or replacement of affected components can restore normal operation. Just be patient and methodical to give your precious laptop the best chance of survival after an unfortunate liquid encounter. With some perseverance, you can recover from a spill and get your MacBook working again.