How to rescue a liquid damaged Laptop, MacBook, iPad or iPhone

Are you wondering what to do if water, tea, coffee, wine or another liquid has been spilt on your laptop?

We regularly receive enquiries from those who have accidentally spilt a drink over their laptop or MacBook.

Even the smallest of spillages can cause hefty damage!

Sadly, it’s a hard lesson learnt once it’s happened as repairs are not advisable.

We’re regretful to be the bearer of bad news but we explain why it’s not worth repairing your liquid damaged laptop.

To begin with, the most common spillages seem to be tea, coffee, wine, water and coke.

Different substances have different effects.

Here is a quick breakdown of each liquid and the after effects from their damage:

Fizzy drinks

How to rescue a liquid damaged Laptop, MacBook, iPad or iPhone

Spilt a fizzy drink like coke on your laptop?

Fizzy drinks are carbonated containing acids like carbonic acid and phosphoric acid. Acids cause erosion so fizzy substances such as coke will eat away at the components. Compared to other liquids fizzy drinks will often cause the most damage if they are spilt onto a laptop.

Juice

How to rescue a liquid damaged Laptop, MacBook, iPad or iPhone

Most fruit juices have a low pH making them very acidic therefore if spilt over your laptop you can expect erosion. Compare this to acidic drinks eroding your tooth enamel. As fruit juice contains a lot of sugar you will most likely notice the keys on the keyboard sticking after this sort of spillage. Some keys may or may not work as a result.

Water

How to rescue a liquid damaged Laptop, MacBook, iPad or iPhone

Wet or water damaged phone?

The pH of pure water is around 7, drinking water from the tap is 6.5 – 8.5. Out of all possible substances if you spill water onto your laptop although it won’t necessarily cause erosion to the components unfortunately its damage is still catastrophic. Liquids of any kind which come into contact with electronics are not good news.

Hot drinks

How to rescue a liquid damaged Laptop, MacBook, iPad or iPhone

Have you spilled tea or coffee on your laptop or Mac?

Hot drinks have the potential to melt components. A freshly made cup of tea or coffee is made with boiling water (100 degrees). If a hot drink is spilled over a person it has the potential to scold them so imagine that poured over a laptop!

Alcohol

How to rescue a liquid damaged Laptop, MacBook, iPad or iPhone

What to do when you spill wine or other alcohol on your electronic device.

Wine is acidic and more vicious. Beer is carbonated so it will have similar effects to fizzy drinks. These types of drinks also leave behind a stickiness.

What happens when liquid is spilt on your laptop?

If the spillage has happened directly over the keyboard the liquid seeps through the keys and makes its way into the internal section of the laptop.

Imagine it like a volcano erupting and dispersing its lava onto land. It’s an unstoppable and unpredictable process, the same with liquid spillages on a laptop.

If the spillage has happened to the side of the laptop (for instance where the USB ports are) then it enters through to the motherboard.

The residue left behind after a spillage will remain on the internal components. If you’re fortunate enough to still have a working laptop at this stage it is certainly not advised to continue using it. The heat from powering the laptop will begin to heat up the components and whichever substance they are coated in will also be heated up! This poses a risk of burning, fire and even shorting out the motherboard.

Usually the first signs of liquid damage are keys not working or complete failure to turn on.

Some reports suggest placing your laptop into an airing cupboard or completely covering it in rice. Coating the water damaged device in rice can help extract moisture.

You’ll find various different techniques online however nothing is ever a guarantee with these things.

Liquid damage is unpredictable

When it comes to liquid damage (of any kind) invisibility is the biggest problem IT specialists are faced with. It’s impossible to know which components have been affected because liquid damage can be a slow process, with parts failing at different times. You could replace one part and then another issue arises which results in needing to replace further parts. With this in mind it’s a risky, time consuming and costly process if you decide to go down the repair route. Many computer repair companies don’t offer repairs for this very reason.

Sudden Death

The life of a laptop is unknown after contact with liquid. If you’re fortunate enough to still have a working laptop after a spillage, be warned! This may not be the case in the coming days, weeks or even months.

Data Recovery

As a first point of action we’d highly recommend backing up your data ASAP if it’s of importance. It’s best to do this sooner rather than later as depending on the damage it could affect the hard drive (which is where all your data is stored). Take your laptop to a computer specialist to have your data rescued.

Cost

Liquid damaged repairs are often expensive as without replacing every individual component there is no guarantee how long before another component fails.
You could effectively end up being worse off because you’ve thrown money at an attempted repair and still had to go out and invest in a new laptop.

Purchase a new laptop

If you heavily rely on your laptop for work or personal use the best advice we can give is to go and buy a new one! After all, who wants an unreliable and temperamental computer?

Insurance

If you’ve got an insurance policy which covers the affected computer then you could go down the route of making a claim with your insurance provider. They will often ask for a written report from an IT repair specialist. If the claim is accepted usually you are given the cost for a replacement. If you purchased the computer for a substantial amount of money you may want to consider making an insurance claim.

Summary

Avoid placing any drinks near your laptop. Drink from a flask or sealed container to avoid this from happening again. Try to make a habit of sitting at a desk with your laptop instead of a dining table.

Spilling any type of drink on your laptop is an expensive mistake you’ll certainly not want to make again!

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