Laptop Repair: Liquid Spills on Keyboard

What should you do if you spill liquid on your laptop’s keyboard?  How can the damage be repaired?  What’s the possible extent of the damage?  These are common occurrences unfortunately.  We can repair laptop liquid spill damage, but the seriousness of the damage and the needed repairs depend largely on what you do when it happens.

Possible Extent of Liquid Damage:

I’ll just describe the worst-case scenario.  This would be if the liquid goes through the keyboard and into the the deeper parts of the laptop.  It can short out any of the internal components, including the motherboard (or logic board).

Even if it dries and works for a while, if the liquid was anything other than water, it can corrode the electronics and the machine could die later on.  This is why I always recommend letting a technician look at it.  The damage can get worse over time, thus costing more to repair if you wait.

Emergency Procedure:  If you spill liquid on your laptop, do this immediately:

  1. Close the lid and turn the laptop upside down. This prevents the liquid from seeping too far into the laptop.
  2. Unplug the power and remove the battery. Cutting off all power prevents short circuit electrical damage.

Don’t worry that this will cause an improper shutdown.  It’s better than ruining the machine and occasional improper shutdowns are not a big deal.

Leave the laptop this way and let the liquid seep out of the keyboard.  If the spill was just water, let it dry out for several hours or overnight.  When you get home, you can open up the lid, but leave the laptop upside down, perhaps propped up against something so you don’t damage the screen.  When it dries, turn it on.  If it works… cool!  If not, bring it to a repair shop.

If the spill was not water, bring the laptop to local PC Repair Shop.  I mean a real repair shop, not a big box store, as they’re clueless.  If you’re adept and adventurous, you can try to do more, but I strongly advise against it.  I’ve seen people mess things up pretty bad when they tried.  Still, if you insist, try the following.

Get an Electronic Cleaning Solvent…. Do Not Use a Household Cleaner!  You can pick up these special solvents at an electronics store.  I don’t mean an Ace Hardware either.  I mean a real electronics store.

If you’re not up to removing the keyboard, get the solvent in a spray can so you can get it into the keyboard while keeping it upside down.  If you do remove the keyboard, you can soak it in a tray of solvent.  Inspect the area under the keyboard and see if the liquid got in deeper.  If so, stop and bring it to a repair shop.

In closing, don’t try this yourself, but if you do, be careful!  Some of these repairs are difficult.  It’s not always apparent which component was damaged, so we often have to test everything.  Give us a call and we’ll do everything we can to save your laptop.


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About Steve Frantzis

Steve Frantzis is the Owner of Saguaro PC Tech, LLC, a computer repair shop in Tucson. If you have any questions or need help with your laptop, desktop, Mac, or mobile device, please call Us at (520) 250-5948.

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