What can you do for a water damaged Mac?

If your Mac gets exposed to water, it can seriously damage the internal components. However, there are some steps you can take to try and salvage a water damaged Mac.

Can a Mac work after being exposed to water?

It is possible for a Mac to still work after getting wet, but it depends on the extent of the water exposure. If just a small amount of water splashed onto the surface and didn’t get inside, then the Mac may continue working normally after drying out. However, if the Mac was fully submerged or had water poured directly into openings like the keyboard, then internal damage is very likely.

Should you turn on a wet Mac?

No, you should never turn on a Mac that got wet until you are sure it has thoroughly dried out. Turning it on while components are still wet can cause electrical shorts and further damage. If it was already on when exposed to water, turn it off immediately by pressing and holding the power button. Once off, do not turn it back on until completely dry.

How to dry out a wet Mac

If your Mac did get wet, the most important thing is to dry it out completely before attempting to use it again. Here are some steps to properly dry a wet Mac:

  • Wipe away any exterior water with a dry cloth
  • Disconnect it from any power source, including battery
  • Disassemble it as much as possible to access internal components
  • Allow to air dry for at least 24-48 hours to ensure there is no remaining moisture inside
  • Use a hair dryer on low heat setting to speed up drying around connectors and hard to reach areas
  • Place in front of a fan to circulate air through small openings
  • Pack with moisture-absorbing packages like those made for electronics
  • Do not reassemble or try to power on until completely dry

Signs of water damage on a Mac

Even if a wet Mac appears to work initially, there could still be unseen water damage affecting internals. Here are some signs that indicate water exposure:

  • Visible condensation or moisture inside screen/case
  • Corrosion around ports or connectors
  • Short circuits causing glitches or malfunctions
  • speakers/microphone not working properly
  • Buttons or keys acting sluggish or sticking
  • Flickering, distorted, or dead pixels on the screen
  • Not powering on or battery not charging

Quick fixes for a water damaged Mac

While drying it out completely is ideal, if you need to quickly get a water-exposed Mac functional again, some quick fixes include:

  • Shaking out excess water and wiping down
  • Blow drying on cool setting for 15 minutes
  • Letting it sit powered off for 1-2 hours minimum
  • Reconnecting battery and power cord while powered off
  • Turning it on and letting fully boot before use
  • Backing up data immediately in case it shuts down again
  • Avoiding charging battery until fully dry

These quick fixes may temporarily resurrect your Mac, but there still may be undetected damage. You should let it fully dry out when possible.

Is a rice bath effective for drying?

Placing electronics like a wet Mac in uncooked rice has been a long-standing recommendation for helping absorb moisture. However, this technique has been debated. The pros and cons of using rice are:


  • Rice is readily available in most homes
  • It allows air circulation around the Mac in a dry container
  • The rice can absorb some external moisture
  • It prevents the Mac from being powered on before dry


  • Rice absorbs very minimal amounts of moisture from inside electronics
  • Any trapped moisture will take much longer to evaporate
  • Rice dust can get stuck and interfere with small electronics
  • Waiting 24+ hours for rice to work delays more effective drying methods

Overall, a rice bath is not very effective compared to active drying methods, but in a pinch it’s better than nothing.

Disassembling a Mac to dry internal parts

For the best chance of saving a water damaged Mac, disassembling it to dry out individual components is often necessary. Here are some tips for properly taking apart and drying a Mac:

  • Consult repair guides to see recommended disassembly methods for your model
  • Use proper tools like precision screwdrivers to avoid damage
  • Take pictures of cord connections before unplugging anything
  • Remove covers, brackets, and guards to access main logic board
  • Carefully disconnect ribbon cables and connectors
  • Remove battery and hard drive early in process if possible
  • Separate and dry modules like keyboard, trackpad, fans
  • Dry all sides of logic boards, using compressed air on ports

Take your time disassembling to avoid breaking any small ribbon cables or connectors. Make sure all components are completely dry before reassembling.

Cleaning corrosion from water exposure

If a leaked battery or other corrosive agents got inside your Mac along with water, corrosion may start forming on metal components like connectors and logic boards. Here is how to clean corrosion:

  • Unplug battery immediately to avoid further corrosion from current
  • Rinse corroded areas with 90% isopropyl alcohol
  • Use cotton swabs to scrub green corrosion deposits
  • Soften stubborn buildup with vinegar or lemon juice
  • Rinse again with isopropyl alcohol to neutralize acids
  • Dry completely with compressed air
  • Check for damage or non-functional parts after cleaning

Avoid using water to rinse, as it can cause further corrosion. Check for moisture under any silicon chips after cleaning.

Reassembling your Mac after water damage

Once you are confident every internal component is dry, you can reassemble your Mac. Follow these tips for careful reassembly:

  • Work in reverse order of disassembly
  • Refer to repair guides for your model if needed
  • Check cables for broken pins or tears before reconnecting
  • Reattach ribbon cables gently but firmly
  • Replace any damaged screws with identical replacements
  • Double check all connections are secure before powering on
  • Power on without reattaching outer case to check for issues
  • Listen for odd noises like fans spinning irregularly

Avoid forcing cable connections and damaging small ribbon cables. If reassembled correctly, your Mac has the best chance of working.

Steps for diagnosing problems after water exposure

If your Mac suffers intermittent problems or won’t boot up normally after drying out, follow these steps to diagnose:

  1. Open it back up and check for hidden moisture or corrosion
  2. Reseat cables and memory modules in their slots
  3. Try cleaning logic boards with isopropyl alcohol
  4. Test external ports like USB for continuity or damage
  5. Check power adapter for water exposure or frayed cords
  6. Try known-good memory modules and cables from another Mac
  7. Check battery health and cycle count in System Information
  8. Reset NVRAM and SMC if Mac powers on but has glitches
  9. Back up data and reinstall OS if needed

Isolating the faulty component can prevent having to replace the entire logic board or Mac.

When to seek professional Apple repair

If you followed all troubleshooting steps but your Mac still won’t turn on or operate correctly, it likely has internal damage that needs professional Apple service. Seek repair if:

  • Heavily corroded visible on logic board
  • Won’t startup even after SMC/NVRAM resets
  • Won’t charge battery or hold charge
  • Display has flickering lines or bad pixels
  • Error messages involving hardware failures
  • Liquid indicators inside are triggered
  • External ports/buttons unresponsive
  • Fan continually spins up loudly
  • You cracked or punctured internal cables

Apple authorized service centers have the training and tools to fully diagnosing and repair internal water damage you can’t fix yourself. Be prepared for a potentially high repair cost depending on damage.

Cost of repairing a water damaged Mac

The cost to repair a water damaged Mac can vary widely based on the components that need replacing. Some average repair costs include:

Repair Type Average Cost
Logic board replacement $500 – $1000+
Battery replacement $129 – $199
Display repair/replacement $500 – $700
Keyboard replacement $100 – $350
Trackpad replacement $100 – $250

Keep in mind newer model Macs often have higher repair costs. Apple also charges an out of warranty service fee and tax on top of parts/labor costs.

Data recovery from a water damaged Mac

If important files were on a water damaged Mac that won’t power on, you may need professional data recovery. Options include:

  • Sending to a data recovery company – Can recover data even from severely damaged hard drives but very expensive.
  • Taking to Apple Genius Bar – Apple can sometimes recover data if drive is still functional.
  • Trying DIY data recovery software – Affordable but limited if hardware is damaged.
  • Sending into DriveSavers – A reputable Mac data recovery company, costs $500-$3000+ based on damage.

As a precaution, regularly backup your data so it’s protected if your Mac gets water damaged.

Can you recover lost data yourself?

For minor water exposure where only some files were lost, you may be able to recover data yourself using free software like:

1. Disk Drill

Disk Drill can recover 100MB of lost files for free from internal and external drives. Works well for quick file recovery.

2. PhotoRec

PhotoRec is free open source software that restores photos, videos, documents, and archives lost to water damage or deletion. It scans drive sectors for lost data fragments.

3. TestDisk

TestDisk is a free utility for recovering lost partitions damaged by water exposure and rebuilding corrupted file systems. Helpful for making disks readable again.

For more severe cases where hardware components are affected or entire partitions lost, you will need professional recovery.

Preventing future water damage to your Mac

While accidental spills can always happen, you can take some precautions to avoid Mac water damage in the future:

  • Keep drinks away from your workspace to prevent spills
  • Don’t use Mac near pools, bathtubs, sinks, etc.
  • Carry Mac in waterproof case or bag when traveling
  • Shut down Mac before moving it to avoid splash damage in transit
  • Ensure all cables are dry before plugging into Mac
  • Keep Mac away from humidifiers and other wet sources
  • Use water sensing alarms near Mac as early warning
  • Inspect Mac ports for debris before plugging accessories in

Your Mac is a major investment, so take the extra care to keep it safe from liquid spills which can be damaging. Follow best practices to maximize its lifespan.


Water exposure can seriously damage Mac components, but isn’t always fatal with the right techniques. Quickly powering off, thoroughly drying internal parts, cleaning corrosion, and proper reassembly can potentially resurrect a water damaged Mac. However, heavily damaged machines will inevitably need professional Apple repair service. The most important thing is responding quickly to any liquid exposure and not prematurely powering on your Mac before its 100% dry internally.