Whether it’s a Black Friday special you just bought or a trusty laptop you have had for years, accidents can happen.  Here are tips for dealing when a liquid spill occurs.

  1. Immediately unplug the device (if plugged in), disconnect the battery, and disconnect any connected peripherals.
    Every second that power can flow through the device is a chance for a short to occur.  Even pure water can become conductive with prolonged contact with some internal components.
  2. Turn the device upside down to facilitate draining from the spilled location.
    For example, if you spill on your keyboard you want to then have the keyboard face down to prevent further seepage of the spilled liquids.
  3. Wipe off any remaining liquids before righting the laptop. 

Depending on the type of liquid spilled and the amount spilled you have some decisions to make.  If you just spilled a small amount of water, you may be able to let it dry in an area with air flow.  This has to be done over the course of a day or two to allow complete evaporation.  If you spilled the majority of your double vanilla chai latte, you will need to have it disassembled and cleaned thoroughly. 

  1. If you need to disassemble, consider the following.
    1. Make sure you’re not already covered under a warranty or protection plan that covers spill damage.  Trying to fix it yourself may result in them denying service under such a plan.
    2. If you have any concerns about taking apart your laptop, please take it to a professional.
    3. If you do choose to disassemble it yourself, be sure to properly guard from static electricity which can cause just as much damage.
  2. If choose to continue this yourself, remove the hard drive, CD/DVD, RAM and any other easily removable components for safe storage and individual cleaning (if needed).
  3. If the keyboard can be removed, be careful as some liquids still may be contained in tray or keys.
  4. If you spilled something dried on to the circuits, you’ll need to remove that residue.  Try brushing off any residue initially with a soft bristled brush, being careful to not damage the circuits and not get the debris deeper in the machine.  Using a vacuum can help, but be careful not to use too much suction on the delicate components.
  5. You still may need to remove any remaining residue on/under the circuits.  Using water or rubbing alcohol (99% purity suggested) can be used depending on the type of fluid spilled.  Try using a couple of cotton or sponge swabs, one with liquid to clean and one to dry.  Use small amounts of water/alcohol and be careful around fans or motorized parts where exposure is not recommended.

Some other tips:

–          Keep the hard drive, RAM, components off of the device until after powering on post-cleanup.  (That way, if you weren’t successful, you didn’t just fry your hard drive and the data can be recovered.)

–          Consider buying an extended warranty or protection plan that covers accidental damage including spills.  Be sure to read the “fine print” to be sure what’s covered.

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