This is what you need to do to save your MacBook Pro from water damage. Act fast to turn off power, and get the water out as this will help.
I’m writing this guide on a MacBook Pro that I spilled a cup or more of water on, covering the keyboard and getting some of it behind the screen.
Water damage is a bigger problem on a MacBook Pro, MacBook or MacBook Air than it is on an iPhone, but you can still save your notebook if you act fast and luck is on your side.
MacBook water damage is easier to come back from than beer, pop or other liquids, but nothing is guaranteed.
This DIY route is just the start and unfortunately corrosion can ruin important parts of the MacBook Pro even with minimal exposure. Here’s what you need to do.
- Unplug the MacBook from power.
- Turn it off completely.
- Unplug all cables and accessories
- Get as much water off or out of your MacBook Pro as possible.
- If possible open up the MacBook.
- Pack in silica.
- Proceed with deep cleaning.
The first four steps are the ones you can do on your own, and that you need to do fast.
1. Unplug the MacBook from power.
Keep your personal safety in mind. You don’t want to get electrocuted over a computer. If the laptop is completely submerged, you may need to turn off the power at the breaker.
Even without being plugged in, be careful with battery power. If it is too hot, smoking or there are other odd signs don’t touch the Macbook Pro. If it is safe here’s what to do.
On most modern MacBooks and MacBook Pro models, you cannot remove the battery.
2. Turn Off Your MacBook Pro ASAP
Once power is disconnected, turn off your MacBook as soon as possible. You may need to simply hold the power button for 10 seconds, or you can use the normal shutdown routine.
At this point, don’t worry about saving documents, you need to get the water out of the MacBook as soon as you can and get power turned off.
3. Unplug All Cables and Accessories
If your MacBook Pro is plugged into a dock, monitor or other accessories you need to remove them.
This prevents water damage from ruining things attached to your computer, and it opens up these ports to get the water out.
4. Get as Much Water Out of Your MacBook as Possible
At this stage, you need to get water out of your MacBook. Water sits in the keyboard and in the hinge area along the edge of your MacBook.
I turned my MacBook Pro to the side and shook it to get the water out. With as much water out by holding it sideways and shaking as possible I moved onto canned Air.
Spraying from the driest side to the wettest, I used a side to side spray pattern to get the water out of my Macbook Pro keyboard and along the hinge.
Don’t use a hairdryer or anything hot to cool your MacBook Pro off.
This is a step that you need to do fast, and one that you may want to repeat a few times until you stop seeing water come out of your MacBook Pro.
5. Open Up Your MacBook
Modern MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models are tougher to open, but you can do it if you have the right tools. I used an iFixit toolkit to unscrew the MacBook Pro screws and then used the small guitar pick-like spacers to unhook the edges so I could pop the button off of my MacBook Pro.
With this open I used the canned air again and then I moved on to Silica.
6. Pack in Silica
I was lucky enough to have a friend with loads of silica gel on hand. I packed the MacBook Pro in a plastic container filled with silica gel packets for 72 hours. I switched the packets once during this time. I used at least 20 pounds of silica during this step.
When I put the MacBook Pro in, the screen had water behind it and it had been flickering before I turned it off. After this process the screen looks perfect and the MacBook Pro is working, but this is not the end, and there is a case to not turn it back on and go in for a deep cleaning. You can DIY the deep cleaning, but be prepared to spend money and a lot of time.
You can buy Silica gel on Amazon and you may also be able to find them on sale at local hobby stores.
7. Deep Cleaning
At this point my MacBook Pro is working, but iFixit cautions that I may not be out of the woods yet.
Water can cause corrosion that could take days, weeks or months to cause a problem.
With this iFixit guide you can tear down your MacBook Pro and use the list of tools to inspect your MacBook for water damage.
At this stage, I can’t justify spending nearly $1,000 on equipment and parts to fix my MacBook Pro, especially considering that I might need to end up repairing parts of the logic board outside my area of expertise and spending more on replacement parts.
I plan to take my MacBook Pro back off and may go deeper looking for corrosion, but at this stage I may simply need to see what happens. If you are lucky, your MacBook will survive without further work, but that’s not guaranteed.
You should backup your MacBook and make regular backups.
Macbook Water Damage Repair, Warranty and Insurance Options
If you do0n’t want to go the DIY route for deep cleaning, you can look for professional help, but you need to be prepared to spend a decent amount of money .
Let’s start with warranties. AppleCare does not cover liquid damage. This is the warranty I have, and it means Apple will not fix the water damage for free. I may be out any warranty coverage now that there is water damage. That was all Apple offered when I bought my MacBook Pro.
If you bought a MacBook after June 2017, you may have AppleCare+ for Mac. If you have this you get protection from accidental damage including water damage. You still have to pay a $299 service fee for other damage, but that’s cheap compared to an out of warranty fix.
If you need to pay Apple to fix your water damaged Macbook Pro, they may ask for $840 to $1,340. You can expect Apple to send this out for repair.
You can also look for an authorized repair center locally. You can look for an Apple Authorized partner or for a third-party. When you look around, you should expect a clear estimate, as well as a call before any work that goes over that estimate, a guarantee on repairs for 30 to 45 days and good reviews.
While dealing with this issue, I saw many online post saying that homeowners or renters insurance covered water damage to a MacBook. While you can check with your agent, I found that was not the case for an accident.
If my MacBook Pro died from a lightning strike, fire or water damage from sewer backup, which I have coverage for, it would likely be covered, but accidentally knocking water into it is not covered under many policies.
Ultimately I may end up needing to buy the 2018 MacBook Pro if corrosion ends up being problem.
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