This is a common question for MacBook owners, as spills on the keyboard can easily damage electronics. Unfortunately, the short answer is no – MacBook keyboards are not waterproof. Liquids can still easily get into the keyboard and cause issues. However, the keyboards are somewhat spill-resistant and you may be able to save your MacBook if immediate action is taken after a spill.
Are MacBook keyboards waterproof?
No, MacBook keyboards are not fully waterproof. Apple does not advertise them as being waterproof or even water resistant. The keyboards have some spill drainage channels that may allow a small amount of liquid to drain out, but they are not designed to withstand immersion or large spills.
Water can very quickly seep under the keys and reach the electronic components underneath, leading to short circuits and corrosion. It only takes a small amount of liquid to cause big problems.
What makes MacBook keyboards susceptible to water damage?
There are a few reasons why MacBook keyboards are prone to water damage:
- The gaps between the keys allow liquids to seep through. There are openings on the sides and bottom of each key.
- Underneath each key is a rubber dome membrane that is porous. Liquid can soak through this membrane.
- The keyboard sits directly on top of the logic board and electronics. There are short distances for liquids to travel.
- Many components like circuits and chips are not coated to resist water. Liquids will quickly cause shorts.
Even small amounts of water or other liquids can bridge connections and corrode components. It’s very easy for liquids to reach vulnerable electronics underneath the keyboard.
Are MacBook keyboards spill-resistant?
MacBook keyboards have some spill resistance built in, but they are far from waterproof. Apple added internal drainage channels starting with the 2015 MacBook and 2016 MacBook Pro models. This allows a small amount of liquid to drain through the keyboard, out the bottom case holes, and away from electronics.
There are also plastic membranes under each key that are meant to help prevent liquids passing through the keyboard. However, these membranes have microscopic pores that liquids can still seep through with enough spilled volume.
So in summary, MacBook keyboards have some spill drainage designs but very limited water resistance. They cannot withstand more than a small splash.
What happens if you spill water on a MacBook keyboard?
Here is what happens if liquid is spilled or splashed onto a MacBook keyboard:
- The liquid begins seeping down through and around the keyboard keys immediately.
- It will pass through the porous rubber membrane underneath each key and reach the logic board.
- If a large enough quantity, the liquid will bridge connections and short circuit components.
- Any minerals or impurities in the liquid can start corroding the logic board and components.
- The logic board and keyboard may initially seem functional, but will likely fail later from corrosion.
- In some cases, a spill will immediately prevent a MacBook from powering on or causing a black screen.
Liquid spills can cause both instant and delayed damage. Even if a MacBook seems to work fine immediately after a spill, corrosion can develop over time leading to eventual failure. Immediate action is required after any keyboard spill to try and save the MacBook.
What liquids cause the most damage?
Any type of liquid can potentially damage a MacBook keyboard, but some are worse than others:
- Water – Since it is ionized, water readily conducts electricity which can short circuit components.
- Soda – Carbonated drinks like soda can leave sticky residue once dried out.
- Coffee – Corrosive effects and can stain or stick to components.
- Juice – Sugary content promotes corrosion once dried out.
- Alcohol – Highly conductive and will quickly reach components.
Dirty or contaminated water also carries minerals and impurities that can corrode a logic board. Any type of liquid can damage MacBook keyboards, but water, soda, coffee, and alcohol are generally the most problematic.
How to dry out and fix a wet MacBook keyboard
Here are some steps to try and save a MacBook that has had liquid spilled on the keyboard:
- Immediately unplug the MacBook and turn it off. This can help prevent shorts and further damage.
- Drain out any excess liquid by holding the MacBook upside down. Open it up to an angle and let it drain out.
- Dry the exterior of the MacBook with a microfiber cloth to soak up drops around the keyboard.
- DO NOT try turn it back on immediately to see if it works. Give it 1-2 days to thoroughly dry out first.
- Leave the MacBook in an upside down vertical position to allow interior liquids to drain out through keyboard holes.
- Use a fan or hair dryer on cold setting to blow air across the keyboard to speed up drying time.
- After 1-2 days, reconnect your MacBook and attempt to power it on after drying. If it works, backup data immediately.
- If it does not power on or has obvious keyboard issues, seek professional repair assistance as soon as possible.
Be very careful about using high heat to dry out a MacBook, as this can sometimes do more harm than good. The best way is to be patient and let it thoroughly air dry for a couple days.
Even if you MacBook seems to work after drying, it’s a good idea to have it inspected and cleaned by an electronics repair shop. Corrosion can develop over time and cause failure later on. Seek professional help to increase the chances of completely saving your MacBook.
Can you fix water damaged MacBook keyboards?
Water damaged MacBook keyboards can often be repaired, but it may involve replacing some parts:
- Individual key replacement – If just a few keys are damaged, they can sometimes be popped off and replaced.
- New keyboard – In many cases, the entire keyboard may need replacement if extensively water damaged.
- Logic board repair – Liquid corrosion on the logic board may require cleaning or damaged components replaced.
- MacBook replacement – If corrosion is severe, it may be more cost effective to replace the entire MacBook.
Ideally, quick action can save a keyboard before corrosion sets in. But if a liquid spill is left unattended for long, extensive repairs or replacement may be necessary. The longer moisture sits inside, the worse potential damage can become.
Cost to repair a liquid damaged MacBook keyboard
Typical repair costs for a liquid damaged MacBook keyboard include:
- Single key replacement – $50 – $100
- Full keyboard replacement – $200 – $500
- Logic board repair – $300 – $700
- Full MacBook replacement – $1,000+
The final cost can vary widely depending on the model, year, and extent of the water damage. Anywhere from $200 to $1000+ for repairs is common. Professional cleaning and component replacements are required to avoid eventual failure from corrosion.
Will Apple repair liquid damage?
Liquid damage is not covered under Apple’s standard warranty or AppleCare Protection Plan. However, Apple may still repair liquid damaged MacBooks for an out-of-warranty fee. Here are some points on Apple’s policy:
- You will need to pay Apple’s out-of-warranty repair pricing for any liquid damage.
- Apple will first diagnose the issue, then provide a repair cost estimate if fixable.
- Costs can easily reach $700+ depending on damage level.
- In some cases of extreme damage, Apple may deem it unrepairable.
- Third party repair shops often offer cheaper keyboard repairs than the Apple Store.
While Apple can repair liquid damaged MacBooks, you will pay a premium price via their flat rate repair pricing. Third party repair shops often provide keyboard repairs and replacements at more affordable rates.
Does AppleCare cover water damage?
Standard AppleCare Protection Plans for MacBooks do NOT cover any water damage or other liquid spills. Here are the details on AppleCare coverage:
- Both AppleCare and AppleCare+ plans exclude liquid damage coverage.
- They only cover manufacturer defects and accidental physical damage (not liquids).
- You would still need to pay Apple’s out-of-warranty repair fees.
- Some credit cards provide additional coverage for liquid spills, check with your card issuer.
- Consider getting a separate accidental damage protection plan from an insurer to cover spills.
While very useful for other types of repairs, neither AppleCare nor AppleCare+ will help with the cost of fixing a liquid damaged MacBook. Be prepared to pay Apple’s out-of-warranty fees if a repair is needed.
Can you prevent & minimize liquid damage?
You cannot make a MacBook keyboard fully waterproof, but these tips can help minimize the chance of liquid damage:
- Use a waterproof case or cover when traveling with a MacBook.
- Don’t eat or drink over or next to your MacBook.
- Immediately wipe up small spills right away.
- Be extra careful around pools, boats, etc. where accidental splashes occur.
- Keep drinks in sealed containers with lids near MacBooks.
- Consider a moisture detecting keyboard cover to alert you if liquids get in keyboard.
- Carry your MacBook in a waterproof bag separately from liquids.
- Keep paper towels handy to place under a MacBook in the event of a spill.
While you cannot make a MacBook keyboard waterproof, being cautious and prepared for potential spills can help avoid disastrous liquid damage and expensive repairs.
In summary, MacBook keyboards themselves are not waterproof. The keyboard has drainage channels but very limited liquid resistance overall. Just a small amount of water or other liquids can leak through the porous membrane under the keys and cause corrosion or shorts.
Spills should be addressed immediately by powering off the MacBook, draining out liquid, and thoroughly drying. Even if it powers on initially, moisture left inside can corrode logic board components over time. Repairs may require replacing individual keys, the whole keyboard, or even the entire MacBook depending on damage.
Preventative measures like waterproof cases, keeping drinks sealed, and separating liquids can help avoid damage. But ultimately, MacBook users need to be very careful around liquids due to the keyboard’s vulnerability. Quick reaction to spills is key to avoiding expensive repairs down the road.