How to Get Around the Liquid Damage in a MacBook

By Joshua Smyth

Most MacBook users have had a moment of panic when a cup of liquid spills near their computers. The panic is justifiable; spilled liquid can damage the interior components of the computer and leave the keyboard sticky and useless. Even worse, Apple warranties do not cover liquid damage. This can mean a very expensive repair job. It is sometimes possible, however, to avoid a shocking repair bill. With quick action, the right tools and a few peripherals, it is possible to get around liquid damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Small Philips screwdriver
  • Cotton balls
  • Hair dryer
  • Clean cloth
  • Tweezers
  • Camera
  • Rice

Use the Rice Method

Step 1

Shut down the computer immediately if liquid is spilled on it.

Step 2

Fill a large bowl with dry rice. It is very absorbent and will draw moisture from electronics that have gotten wet. If the liquid spilled was water, then the rice grains will draw it out without leaving sticky residue.

Step 3

Immerse the MacBook in the rice, taping over the DVD drive port and SD drive port to keep rice from getting trapped in them.

Step 4

Retrieve the MacBook from the rice 24 hours later and try to turn it on.

Disassemble and Dry the MacBook

Step 1

Turn the MacBook off immediately when liquids are spilled on it.

Step 2

Using a small Philips screwdriver, remove the screws holding the casing together. They are located on the underside of the computer.

Step 3

Remove the piece of the MacBook's body surrounding the keyboard. You will see the battery with a battery lock that can be turned with the edge of a coin. Turn it and remove the battery.

Step 4

Pull the keyboard, disconnect it from the keyboard connector using a pair of tweezers and set it aside. This will give you access to the components of the MacBook.

Step 5

Pull out the memory chips. This provides access to the computer's interior. Use a hairdryer to blow air through it and dry the components.

Step 6

Take a picture of the MacBook's interior before removing any components.

Step 7

Unscrew the screws and disconnect the cables holding any components that the liquid has touched, then remove them.

Step 8

Wipe all the components down with a clean rag or cotton balls, dampening them as necessary to pick up the residue if the spilled liquid was coffee or soda.

Step 9

Use a fingernail to pop off the keys of the keyboard and clean them with a damp cloth.

Step 10

Pat dry all the components, then air dry them with a hairdryer set on low.

Step 11

Re-assemble the MacBook and turn it on.

Working Around Liquid Damage

Step 1

Connect a USB or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse if the spill has damaged them but left the computer functional. USB peripherals are easier if you haven't previously set up Bluetooth peripherals, as the MacBook will automatically recognize them.

Step 2

Connect a second monitor to your MacBook's monitor port and restart your MacBook. If the screen is damaged by liquid, an external monitor will allow you to keep using the laptop.

Step 3

Attach a USB DVD drive. If your drive has been damaged by liquid, USB external DVD drives are available at most computer stores. Buy one and plug it into a free USB port to use it.

Step 4

Remove the hard drive. If the computer has been rendered useless by water damage, the data on the hard drive may still be untouched. Open the computer by removing the screws of the case, popping it open and pulling away the keyboard and RAM chips. Unscrew the screws holding the hard drive to the motherboard and remove it.

Step 5

Install the MacBook hard drive in an external case with a USB port. These are available at most large computer stores. Place the hard drive in the case and connect the built-in cable to the hard drive's port. Close the case and plug it into another Mac with a USB cable. You should still be able to read the data on the hard drive.