You spilled water on a MacBook Air/Pro and it turned off almost instantly. What to do now? Follow the instructions of this guide to minimize the liquid damage and increase the survival chance of your water damaged MacBook. This guide is written by the technicians and engineers who perform MacBook water damage repair hundreds of times every year. It not only tells you what to do if you spilled water on MacBooks but also explains the reasons behind each step. It provides a comprehensive view deep inside the engineering design of Apple MacBooks.
1. Switch OFF the water-damaged MacBook immediately.
This is the first thing you must do if you spilled water on your Macbook Air or Pro. Hold down the power button for at least five seconds until the power is off and then release the button. Do not touch the button again; otherwise, you may accidentally turn it on again. Forget about any unsaved documents, the sooner you cut off the power, the safer your MacBook will be as well as your priceless data in it.
spilled water on macbook – force shut down the macbook
spilled a cup of coffee on a macbook pro
If the water-damaged MacBook cannot be turned off by holding the power button, it means the MacBook keyboard has already stopped functioning. The keyboard cannot send the software-level “Force Shutdown” command to the MacBook logic board. Don’t panic, you still have other methods to shut down the Mac laptop.
Quickly use tissues to absorb the liquid that you can see on the surface of the MacBook keyboard, touchpad and screen, then close the lid straight away. By doing so you effectively activate the hardware-level sleep sensor. When the logic board detects the sleep sensor signal, it will cut off the power to the CPU, screen, SSD drive and most of supporting circuits.
The MacBook then enters into shallow sleep mode. In the shallow sleep mode, the memory chips are still receiving power. This design enables the laptop to be wakeup fast in normal use. Keep the lid closed for a while the MacBook will automatically enter into deep sleep mode. In deep sleep mode, the logic board cuts off the power to the memory chips. Your CPU, screen, SSD drive and RAM are all at safe hand now. Never open the lid to wake up (power-up) the laptop again.
2. Unplug the charger if it’s still connected to the water-damaged MacBook.
This step is less critical than the first one. Unplugging the charger alone will NOT cut off the power to the CPU and other important components. The internal MacBook battery is still powering the Mac laptop at full speed if you did not shut down the laptop by holding the power button. By unplugging the charger, you turn off the charging circuit of the logic board. Even though water damage to the charging circuit is nearly 100% repairable, the circuit’s higher voltage ( 14.5V for MacBook Air, 20V for MacBook Pro Retina ) is still a great threat. So unplug the charger now. If you can come up to this point, you have turned off 99% of the MacBook logic board circuits. The only remaining “ON” circuit is the “standby” circuit and it is much less destructive in a liquid damaged Mac laptop.
In an extremely rare case, if the MagSafe charger is also submerged in the liquid, the danger is from the charger’s input power cord (240V AC in Australia and 110V AC in the United States), not the output (20V or less) of the charge. So in this case, it is still safe to touch the water-damaged MacBook, but not the charger. You need to unplug the power cord from the mains socket.
3. Prevent water from dripping into the vent holes and unplug any peripherals.
Do not move the MacBook. You should try to block the water from dropping into the vent holes located between the keyboard and the screen. The vent holes are designed for transferring heat out of the logic board to the open air. Protecting the logic board is the most crucial step minimising damage from spilled water on a MacBook.
MacBook Pro vent holes top view and bottom view
spilled water macbook air pro
4. Remove the battery from the water-damaged MacBook
Turn over the MacBook, you may use a pentagon screwdriver to open the back case cover, or a Phillip screwdriver to open the older models. Use your fingernail or a plastic stick to remove the battery connector from the logic board.
spilled water macbook – disconnect the battery
There is no immediate threat to your MacBook if you are at this point. You have turned off ALL the circuits on your dedicated logic board. Time to seek a professional MacBook water damage repair service now.
5. Drain the MacBook while waiting for professional MacBook water damage repair.
There are two methods of draining a water damage MacBook.
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