What you should do if liquid spills into your laptop computer

There’s nothing better than coffee and computing in the morning (if you ask me). However I recently learned, “the hard way”, that coffee and computers do NOT directly mix well. I accidentally spilled my cup of coffee into the keyboard of my laptop computer. Water, coffee, tea, soda, and other liquids can be VERY DAMAGING to laptop computers.

Often people will have a drink next to their computer for ease of staying hydrated during a long computer session. While this is a convenient indulgence, it also is risky behavior. If you are like me, you are bound to bump the desk/table or drink container to the point of it spilling all over the place, and most likely into your laptop computer. Unless you have a tough-book or a waterproof computer this will cause serious damage.

What you should do if you spill liquid into your laptop computer:

  1. LEAVE THE COMPUTER OPEN, DO NOT CLOSE THE SCREEN. In order to avoid damaging any other hardware on the computer (such as the screen). Leave the computer in the open position.
  2. UNPLUG IT RIGHT NOW!!!!! First things first, just stop the electricity from traveling to the computer. But be careful not to get electrocuted. Your life is worth more than your iTunes collection, or your work documents.
  3. POP OUT THE BATTERY!!!! Hurry!!! cut off all electricity from the computer. Most likely you will have to tip the computer over to accomplish this, be careful to not damage the screen since you should leave the computer in the open position. It is a fact of nature that electricity and water do not mix at all. The computer is bound to malfunction due to the liquid touching the motherboard.
  4. TIP THE OPEN COMPUTER OVER SO THE SCREEN AND KEYBOARD FACE DOWN, if you haven’t already while removing the battery. Be sure the computer is in the open position so that the excess liquid can drain out the way it came in. The most important thing to do to try to salvage the computer is to get the computer completely dry again.
  5. Take out the hard drive. Most likely the hard drive is still dry, but to avoid any moisture damage take it out while you have the computer turned over. Even if the computer is shot, the data may still be intact on the hard drive. After you get the hard drive popped out, go ahead and put the hard drive into a dry paper bag or container and completely cover the hard drive with dry rice. DO NOT PLUG YOUR HARDRIVE INTO ANY OTHER COMPUTER FOR AT LEAST 72 HOURS OR LONGER IF YOU CAN WAIT.
  6. Let the laptop dry out completely. Leave the computer unplugged from the wall and the battery out in the open position for at least 72 hours. I would even recommend longer just to be sure. If you are savvy with your computer hardware, you may even want to take the keyboard off the computer in order to open up the computer so it may dry out faster. However this is probably a job better left to the professionals at South City Computer since we have the tools and expertise to take apart most laptop computers including Apple Mac computers.

At this point it is probably best to have a computer technician at South City Computer diagnose the computer to determine if it the laptop can be salvage, and also determine if the data on the hardrive can be salvaged.

Most importantly don’t beat yourself up! Accidents happen it is a fact of life. Just stay calm and cool since the ultimate outcome of the computer is unknown until the South City Computer technician can diagnose the state of the laptop computer.

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