1 Reply Latest reply: Mar 24, 2011 1:52 AM by carl wolf
Hot Streak Level 1 (0 points)
Having water damaged my 2009 17" macbook pro not once, but twice, I thought I would post my experience and knowledge gained.

First let me say I do not understand why Apple has made these machines almost as if they wanted them to take in water. Despite being made from solid piece of aluminum, If anyone spills anything on the table, counter, etc. that your macbook is on its going to go into your machine because of its stupid design.

So, twice water was spilled on a counter where I work and twice the machine shut down. So what did I do? First time I saw the water spill and shut the lid to put the machine asleep before anything went wrong. (The sooner you power down the less damage there will be.)

The I let it dry for three days, but when I tried to start it it the screen flickered and went black, so I took it to my Mac repair shop and they said if it was water only there was a good chance they could clean the circuit board and bring it back. That is exactly what happened. The next day I picked it up and paid their $220 bill and my $3,000 machine was good as new.

Do not believe all the sites saying there is nothing you can do and your machine is toast. That is B.S.

So now 6 months later. The exact same thing happens only this time I did not know water had flooded the counter until my screen went black and I noticed that the sound was still going and then saw the water but before I shut it down, the sound crackled and cut out. Oh no!

This time I was really ticked that I had let it happen again and especially did not feel like spending the $220 to have it fixed. I happened to have the tiny screwdriver you need to take the bottom panel off the unibody macbook, so I did that, thinking it would dry quicker.

First thing I did upon opening it was disconnect the battery by gently tugging the connector clip off the circuit board. Then I googled 'how to fix water damage macbook' and it seemed that cleaning the circuit board with alcohol was the most recommended user fix, so I called my repair shop and said I didn't have the budget and was thinking of doing the above myself and they said that is pretty much all they do, so go for it.

I looked at the circuit board which is labyrinthian at first, but after a minute I noticed a small cluster of corroded contacts with a white cloudiness around them, which is obviously where it short circuited. I focused 85% of my efforts there. Using rubbing alcohol and some Qtips I rubbed that area down and any other areas that looked at all suspect or even dusty and before I knew it it looked almost like new. You could not see where the cloudy area had been anymore at all.

Then I pointed my blow dryer at it on low heat from 3 feet away and sat it up Teepee style for half an hour. I couldn't wait any longer, so after 30 minutes I plugged the battery back into the circuit board, sat it right side up and hit the power button. Wala! Good as new. Typing this on it now.

Note you will need a VERY small philips screwdriver to do this, but that is the only tool beside the Qtip and alcohol.

Also this story is for a unibody Macbook where the water has entered through the bottom panel, I'm not sure how different it is when you spill water on top of the keyboard and it gets in that way, but I would say NOT to be intimidated by all the negative posts which are probably the sellers of new boards, etc.

Most said mine COULD NOT be fixed... and I have done it twice now!

To learn more on opening and disassembling your machine I found some good diagrams for free on ifixit.com. Good luck.

MacBook Pro 17", Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • carl wolf Level 6 (14,575 points)
    A glass of diet cola slipped from a friend's hand, and a wave of liquid landed on the keyboard (2008 15" MBP). I immediately turned my computer upside down, with the cover open. I powered the computer down, removed the battery, wiped off the visible liquid, used a vacuum cleaner to suck out liquid through the keyboard, and - with the computer still upside down - I focused a room fan to blow over the battery bay and, using the screen as a deflector, had the cool air blow through the keyboard. Two days later, I plugged in the battery and power adapter, and powered the computer up. It worked perfectly. I then took it to an authorized Apple reseller (I live in Bangkok), and had a technician disassemble and clean the computer thoroughly. For all of his trouble, he charged me 500THB - about $16US.