I Spilled Seltzer on My MacBook Pro, but I Saved It!

Just before heading to one of the best Independence Day parties ever, I spilled a full pint glass of seltzer on my open 13″ unibody Mid-2009 MacBook Pro. The computer immediately shut down, but I unplugged the Mag Safe A/C adapter. As fast as I could, I grabbed my computer screwdriver set and took apart the computer, removing the battery, hard disk drive, and two memory DIMMs.

We’re in the middle of a pretty oppressive heat wave at the moment and since we don’t have an air conditioner running in the apartment, the room temperature is about 90°. I left the computer opened up on the kitchen table, propped up like a pyramid with the hinge pointing up.

Drying out My Computer

The next morning, after the computer had been drying out for about 16 hours, I put it back together. Thankfully, it powered up normally and since the computer had essentially crashed, it took awhile for it complete the start-up process. The only problem was that the P key would not work.

I connected the external keyboard from my iMac, and when I typed P, it registered fine. That was reassuring because it suggested that logic board wasn’t damaged and the non-functioning P was due to some residual moisture keeping it from working properly.

Some web searches revealed that when people spill liquids on their computer, it is often the P key that malfunctions. Some went to the trouble of replacing their logic board, but I didn’t think that would be necessary.

After a few minutes of leaving the computer powered up, I noticed that the P key was registering on its own but was repeating as I had been holding down the key (i.e, PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP).

By late afternoon, the computer was working normally. I consider myself lucky that I spilled plain seltzer water on the keyboard. Being able to take apart the computer and remove the battery was clearly an important step in fixing my MacBook Pro. Also, it was fortunate that it’s currently very hot but not very humid. The high heat and low humidity helped dry the depths of the computer’s innards in very little time. If the temperature was more mild, I would have left the computer drying for as long as three days.

Sarah has a newish (2011) MacBook Air, and those computer cases require a Pentalobe screwdriver to open the case and disconnect the battery. I am about to buy one just from iFixit just in case she ever spills something like I did.

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