Water + laptop = ok

Thursday 15 May 2008

This past weekend, someone accidentally spilled about half a cup of water onto my laptop keyboard. I actually shouted “Agghhh!” like a cartoon character, and we all burst into action, grabbing paper towels, mopping up water, moving books, etc.

When I picked up the laptop, water came dribbling out the other side of it, making a puddle on the table. It was not the kind of thing you want to see involving your laptop. The screen started flashing and going into video conniptions, so I flipped the computer over and removed both batteries.

Max searched Google for what to do, and found a page recommending opening every part you could, and blow-drying on the coolest setting. So I got a screwdriver and started opening panels. When I got the hard drive out after 20 seconds and three screws, Max (a hardcore Apple devotee) exclaimed, “Wow, you can get it out just like that!?” I was a little pleased to have at least a small advantage go to the PC.

Max also found the service manual for my model laptop, so we could get under the keyboard and other hard-to-reach places. The scary thing was that no matter where I looked, I saw droplets of water, except on the RAM.

Over the course of two hours, we blow-dried it a few times, marveled at the insides, and discovered new places to poke paper towels to get the last of the moisture out. Finally, I put it all back together, put in the batteries, and booted it up. With a sigh of relief, I saw that it was going to be fine.

Once it was all over, my computer was cleaner, and I learned something to add to my Middle-Aged Man repertoire of minor but useful knowledge.

Comments

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Marcin 9:18 PM on 15 May 2008

You're lucky it was water and not Coke or something that doesn't dry "clean".

I once spilt a glass of orange juice next to my laptop and a little bit went in through the speaker grille in the side. Luckily it was only a little bit in this localised area, but not the easiest to clean.

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phlyingpenguin 11:23 PM on 15 May 2008

Yes. When brewing beer last, I had my macbook pro on the counter while I was dumping 5 gallons of water into the sink. I'm awful about pouring water out correctly and the word dump is really what should be used to describe the action I was taking. Needless to say, there was water all over the counter, and it was seeping into the back vent of my macbook. I turned the computer off and removed the battery immediately and then shook it over some paper towels (to see how much water came out). It turns out that there wasn't actually much water inside. It booted fine after I let it sit for a few hours.

I say that if you dump WATER on a laptop, just turn it off and remove power from it for a day or two. No need to go opening it up. In my experience, the same is true and more common for cell phones as well.

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ph 1:33 AM on 16 May 2008

first thing is immediately turn if off and remove the battery.

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steve nikopoulos 10:16 AM on 16 May 2008

This reminds me of the time I spilled a fruit smoothie on my T40. My daughter had just made some and gave me a glass. I placed the glass next to my laptop and then moved my hand back to the keyboard toppling the drink into the keyboard.

Luckily, the drink was very thick. I immediately disconnected the power, removed the battery and flipped the laptop upside down so that the stuff would not go very deep. I spent the next few hours taking the machine apart and letting it air dry. I hate to admit this, but I also used the vacuum cleaner to pull the dried-up drink from the hard to reach places.

Ultimately, I had to replace the keyboard because some keys stayed sticky.

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buns 9:25 PM on 23 May 2008

Had a pipe break in a wall and run over a weekend, completely filling three Mac desktops with water about 10 years ago. Fortunately they were all powered down, and after much hair-dryer time they all booted and worked perfectly.

However, recently I did something that still amazes me. About two months ago I was babysitting granddaughters, and had just opened a bottle of beer and set it down on the coffee table next to my PowerBook G4. In came a small girl, who immediately ran into the bottle and knocked it over onto the keyboard, pouring at least a half bottle of very foamy brew right into the center of the running laptop. I grabbed it and turned it upside down, draining out as much as I could, then propped it upside down on the table with a wad of paper towels under it to absorb what ran out. After an hour I turned it back over, and found the screen frozen. Finally forced it to power down and restart. It came back up and worked fine, and is still performing perfectly. Used hard every day, no sticky keys, no lost data, no problems with any drives.

I'm so pleased, I think I'll go have a beer!

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