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4 Signs of Liquid Damage to Your Laptop (And How to Minimize the Damage)

Have you ever had your laptop suddenly start acting strangely for no obvious reason? If there are other people in your home, you might want to consider whether one of them could have spilled something on it and neglected to tell you.

Although we would all like to believe that would never happen, it’s certainly possible. With the average cost of a laptop running anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, it’s not surprising that clumsy kids, roommates, or spouses might not be very forthcoming about their accidents.

Since liquid damage to a laptop isn’t always obvious right away, there’s a chance they don’t even realize how critical the situation is. After all, if it was dried off fast, there’s not likely to be any serious repercussions, right?


If you recognize any of the following four symptoms, there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with a liquid-soaked laptop. 

1. Sticky Keys

If your laptop was drenched with something that had a high sugar content, like juice, soda, or wine, it’s likely that the keys will start to feel sticky. Since there is a backing on your keyboard, it’s possible that the liquid never got past the keys. If this is the case, there’s a good chance your laptop will be okay.

2. Residue, Discoloration, and White Powder

Take the back off your laptop and visually inspect it. If water or another type of liquid has made its way inside, you’re likely to see corrosion, discoloration, and a white or green powder.

3. Activation of Water-Detection Sticker

Some computer manufacturers add a sticker inside the machine that will change color when it gets wet. Activation of this water damage indicator is a sure sign of what actually happened. 

4. Standing Liquid Inside the Laptop

If you open up your laptop and see that there is still liquid inside, the mystery is solved. Now that you know what’s causing your laptop blues, you’ll need to take some steps to try and salvage your machine.

7 Steps for Minimizing Damage from a Spill

Whether you’ve just figured out that someone spilled liquid on your laptop and didn’t tell you or you’re the one with the slippery fingers, you’ll want to do everything you can to minimize the damage. Follow these seven steps to give yourself the best chance.

1. Take a Deep Breath

Before your spiral into a full-fledged panic, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it might not be that bad. Hard drives are sealed tight, so unless it’s been sitting in a ton of liquid for a long time, there’s a good chance that your data is fine.

2. Turn Off the Computer

As soon as you realize that liquid has made contact with your laptop, turn it off. This is the most important thing to do before you even run to grab a towel. Water and electricity don’t mix, and although you’re unlikely to get electrocuted, there is an excellent chance that your computer will short circuit.

If your laptop won’t shut off, try holding down the power button for several seconds. This will usually force a shut-down. You’ll also want to unplug your laptop from the wall and disconnect USB devices and cables.

3. Flip Your Laptop Over

Keeping your laptop open, flip it upside down. This will help pull liquid away from the important components inside. While you have it turned over, take this opportunity to remove the battery.

4. Gently Dry Your Laptop

If the spill has just happened, you’ll want to thoroughly dry your laptop as fast as possible. Toilet paper works well, as it’s very absorbent and is easy to push down between cracks and crevices.

If you’ve spilled something that’s sugary, you’ll want to make sure you get it completely cleaned up as soon as you can. If it dries, it will get sticky and this will create far larger problems.

5. Disassemble the Computer and Let it Dry

If you feel confident in your abilities, disassemble your computer, clean up the components as best you can, and let them dry. This can be a complicated process, so this is the point where most people decide to bring their laptop in for professional repair

If you do decide to take your computer apart, resist the urge to rush things. It’s smart to wait at least 24-hours before you put it back together again.

6. Reassemble the Computer and Start it Up

After enough time has passed, carefully reassemble your computer. Cross your fingers, hold your breath, and hit the power button.

If it boots up, you’re making great progress!

7. Start Testing it Out

Now that your laptop is up and running, you’ll need to make sure it’s functioning as it should. Since the keyboard and trackpad are the most commonly damaged parts, check them thoroughly.

If something isn’t working right, there are two possibilities. The first is that it’s not dry enough yet. Turn the computer off, give it another day, and test it again.

Unfortunately, if another day of drying doesn’t help, you’re likely looking at permanent damage. Now is the time to call a repair shop. A professional can tell you if there’s any possibility of repair and can help you decide what to do next.  

Are You Dealing with Liquid Damage? We Can Help!

If you think your laptop has suffered from liquid damage, don’t give up! Our laptop repair service can help get you back up and running, or at least ensure you can recover your important data. Contact us today to discuss your repair needs, or just stop by our storefront with your broken laptop!