Preventing and Fixing Liquid Spills on MacBooks – MacHollywood | Sales Service Rentals

Preventing and Fixing Liquid Spills on MacBooks

Posted by Neil Carlson on


It’s happened to thousands, and it could, it might, let hope it doesn’t happen to you. Liquid spills! An instant way to lose your thousand-dollar investment in a matter of seconds. You might be the most tech savvy and cautious Macintosh owner in history, and I hope you are! But be weary of that one time you let your friend borrow your computer. You may be receiving a panicked call from him/her that your Mac is now drinking his/her Chai Latte.

 At Machollywood we get a large volume of customers who bring their Macs to us with liquid spill damage. So you should feel no need for embarrassment, unless this is your 4th-5th time.

 So what happens exactly when liquids are spilled on your Mac? Most of us have learned from horror movies protective parents that water and electricity is always bad news to be around. And so it is the case in the ongoing war of Mac versus Liquid.

When any liquid infiltrates into a Macintosh’s hardware, it short-circuits the Mac’s Logic Board. This board is the brain, the heart, and nervous system of your Mac and it houses all of the essential hardware for your computer to function. So when the logic board dies, so does your Mac, and a little bit of your soul.

Here's a link to a diagram of the Macbook Pro's components:

Don’t lose faith yet, as with humans, computer parts can be replaced. And it’s often easier to do so.

If you have Applecare, I’m happy for your smart decision but I’m also sorry. Apple doesn’t cover accidental liquid damage on their computers. Also, if you decide to take your computer into Apple for the repair, they’ll flag your computer in their system as a liquid damaged computer. Once they flag your computer for liquid spill damage, Apple will only attempt to replace your logic board which may cost up to $700 depending on your model of Macintosh: laptop, desktop, or tower.

There really is no workaround to fix a liquid spill; the only method to save yourself is to protect your computer as much as possible.


 The first step to quality protection starts with a keyboard cover. Any quality keyboard cover will lie across all of the keys and atop the keyboard bevel depression. This creates a loose seal that drastically improves your chances of avoiding Mac death. You can find many varieties online, but if you need one now, we have a healthy selection at Machollywood including Moshi and KBC brands. 

Be weary of how you drink your drank

 Anytime you’re preparing for the 14 hour edit sessions, or even going out to the park to write a little, make certain whatever drink you have is bottled or capped with a lid. Keep your drink at a full arms length from your computer, the further the imminent spill is the more time you’ll have to react to save your Mac, and yourself.

 …..And if the worst should happen….

  1. Immediately shut down your machine. Whenever you spill any liquid on your computer, regardless if you have a cover.

  2. After powering down the machine, you’ll want to open the bottom cover. Most Macintosh users don’t own the proper tools to open the bottom cover, but you can find what you need at a local hardware store.

    For non-retina unibody Macbook Pro models a Phillips head size #0 or #00 screwdriver. Most models will open with either one. For the Macbook Air or Macbook Pro Retina you’ll need a Torx Pentalobe screwdriver size 6. Below is a photo of the screwdrivers, the others listed are for more advanced repairs.

  3. Next you’ll need to dry out any liquid inside the machine. You can let it air dry, but it’s best to evaporate the water as soon as possible. Any compressed air source, such as a hair blow dryer is preferable but not necessary. If you don’t have access to compressed air, set your computer near a sunny window and dry out the inside using Q-Tips or paper towels, making certain to absorb all liquid within the nooks and crannies.

    Some owners of Macs have submerged their systems into a bag of rice, with the bottom case off, to absorb even more water. Generally a good amount of time for this process is about 6-8 hours to ensure the rice has done its duty. A rice solution certainly helps, but you will get pieces of rice in the ports and other hidden areas inside the system. Just make certain to clean all the little bits out before you close the bottom.
  1. As a last resource for Macbook fatality revival, you can choose to bake the computer in an oven. Your mac can withstand sustained temperatures of 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit when powered off. To bake a Macbook properly, place your Mac inside the oven alongside a thermometer. Turn the oven on, and prop the oven door open. Monitor your thermometer, and when it reaches 100 degrees, shut the oven door, then turn off the oven. The heat will be insulated inside for a while and after 30 or so minutes, check your thermometer again. If it’s under 100 degrees, repeat the steps mentioned before. Doing this for 2-3 cycles should be enough time for your computer to dry.

If you’ve done all you can at home.

We, at Machollywood, can repair your liquid damaged computer. We start with a diagnostic of the system to validate actual liquid damage to the logic board, just to make certain and to hopefully save you money. If it is damaged, we can repair the logic board without marking the computer as a liquid damaged unit within Apple’s records.

 Coming soon!

I'll be posting another blog within the next couple of days about a new product we received in store. CalDigit's Thunderbolt Station 2 (TS2) 

Next week I’ll be writing about the Apple’s upcoming “Spring Forward” event where we expect to see the long awaited release of the Apple Watch. Along with the watch, we can anticipate an update to iOS 8 to iOS 8.2.

A rumored release of a new 12-inch Macbook Air with retina display and additional color options (Space Gray, Gold, and Silver) may be announced. We can only hope for such excitement.

Thanks for reading!

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