Thursday, 2 July 2015

Ouch! I Spilled Water on My Laptop, What Now?

We get this call about twice a week, and it seems that there is conflicting information out there so we wanted to clear the air. We deal with laptops that have been spilled on quite often. The worst being a baby who poured an entire pitcher of margaritas into a laptop. Makes you wonder where the parents were.

First, immediately turn the laptop off, and remove the battery. The electric current within your laptop is the biggest risk to the laptop. So yank out your power cord, and remove the battery. You must remove the battery, because even when the laptop is not powered up there is a small bit of electricity going through the laptop.

Secondly you need to give the laptop enough time to dry out. Remember how above I said that electric current is what causes water to damage laptops, it's true. In most cases the internal parts of a laptop with no electricity running through it is resistant to water damage(but please don't try and find out). It's by turning it on that you cause the laptop to short out the motherboard or other components.

 Ideally if you can keep it turned off for about 4-5 days that should be enough time to be absolutely sure. Of course in 20 years of being involved in this business, I have yet to meet a client who is patient enough to wait and find out.

You could use a fan of some sort to dry the laptop, but by all means do not use a hair dryer. That will definitely cause issues with your laptop. And in an emergency case, you could use a lint free cloth to try to dry the insides out.

The best case scenario is to take the entire laptop apart and let it dry out. That way you can isolate the wettest parts of the laptop to make sure it gets dried out. It usually will take you 30-45 minutes to take the laptop apart. Most laptop manufacturers have disassembly guides online to show you how to get this done.

Once you have given the laptop the best drying under the circumstances that you can, it's time to cross your fingers and hope and pray that you can get it working. So, replace the battery, plug the power in, and hope that the computer gods are smiling down on you.

If your laptop doesn't even power on, obviously that's not a good sign. Secondly does Windows boot up, or does it start to give you some errors on boot up. One of the most common signs that the laptop has been damaged is that some of the keys won't work. So open up a wordpad or something similar and make sure that all the keys are working. It's worth it to check each one.

Now, some repair shops will tell you that you can replace the keyboard and it should work, but in most cases it's not a malfunctioning keyboard, but instead a malfunction of the actual motherboard itself.

Motherboard damage is the dreaded prognosis of laptop repairs. Motherboards are horribly expensive. Often costing $400-500, and in most cases are actually used. Unlike desktops there are no extra motherboards manufactured for laptops, so almost all motherboard replacements come from stripped laptops that have been converted for parts.

Most of your issues should show in the first day of use, so if you make it through the first day or two then you should be safe. Pay attention to how fast it runs, and whether it's working as it used to. I hope you're not reading this as a result of spilling water on your own keyboard, but if so then hopefully you'll be able to use this to save your computer from further damage.

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