You’re on your way to school with your laptop in your backpack and your water-bottle leaks. You break your own ‘No drinks at the computer table’ rule and knock over your coffee. What do you do next?
One of the most common problems we encounter at the service desk is the dreaded liquid spill. Electronics and liquid do not make for a good combination but there are some things that you should and should not do to help mitigate the disaster.
The first thing is to remove power from the computer by disconnecting the MagSafe adapter and if possible, removing the battery. This will help to prevent damage to some components if the spill is relatively minor. Do not power the computer back on to see if it survived!
Next is to dry the computer. Put a towel down on the table and turn the computer over so that the keyboard is on the towel and the screen hangs down from the tabletop. This will allow as much liquid as possible to exit the computer the way it went in while keeping it away from other components inside. Resist the temptation to use a hairdryer to speed up the process as the heat can do more damage than has already occurred. Remember not to turn the computer on until it is thoroughly dry.
Ideally you want the computer to dry out in a warm area with good air circulation and low humidity for at least seventy-two hours. Do not put the computer in a bag with rice as the grains only get into vents and slots and end up in places they should not be! If you have some packs of silica gel, these would help. What’s silica gel? This is the stuff found in the little packs of crystals that ship with some electronic products and has ‘Do Not Eat’ printed on it!
The final stage is to get the computer to our service depot so that one of our technicians can evaluate the problem. Generally, the news is never good in this situation but your computer is not always ‘beyond salvage’ specially if the spill is minor. Sometimes damage is limited to a keyboard or topcase and sometimes a charging board. Unfortunately, damage sometimes extends to the logic board, or main system board of your computer, or liquid may have gone into the screen. These are much more expensive repairs and can sometimes exceed the value of the unit.
None of these repairs are covered by your warranty or by AppleCare. All computers now have several liquid spill indicators which change colour when they get wet so a technician will know that your computer has been involved in a spill!
Usually, the data on the hard drive is a primary concern. Hopefully, you do a regular backup and have all your data in a safe place. You do backup your data, don’t you? We’ll get to backups in another blog! If you have no backup, all is not lost. Most hard drives are well sealed and normally survive spills. Your drive can be removed from the computer and the data recovered when you are ready.
Remember – keep your drinks away from your computer. But if the worst happens, follow the steps above and get your computer to a professional! And a silicon keyboard cover might be a good idea!