In this post I will go though steps explaining how to fix a MacBook Pro after liquid spill.
Not all liquid spills can be repaired but if you do everything correctly there is a good chance to get your computer back to life.
In the following example I am working with a MacBook Pro 13-inch but all following steps will be the same for all MBPs.
VERY IMPORTANT: After you spilled something on your laptop turn it off right away. Do not try to turn it on! It has to be disassembled for liquid damage inspection.
Make sure you have all necessary screwdrivers before you start: Phillips #0, Torx T6, Try-wing and Pentalobe P5 (if you are fixing a MacBook Air).
Remove the bottom cover, disconnect and remove the battery.
The sooner you disconnect the battery after liquid spill, the better.
If the battery is wet, wipe it clean with a soft cloth.
Remove the hard drive and take a look at the controller board on the bottom side of the drive.
If it is wet, wipe is clean and let it dry thoroughly before turning on.
If laptop repair fails, later you can transfer data into new Mac.
Remove the motherboard.
You will find many instructions on the Internet explaining how to remove the motherboard from MBPs. iFixit has some great teardown guides.
After the motherboard is removed, insect all remaining internal components (DVD drive, trackpad, area under the motherboard, etc…). Clean up wet areas with a soft cloth.
The keyboard and trackpad a sealed units. There is not much you can do to clean them up inside.
Inspect both sides of the motherboard for any liquid damage, corrosion, wet areas, etc…
Also, inspect the MagSafe Board (power connector board).
Even a minor corrosion can affect the functionality of the computer.
Clean up any liquid damage/corrosion using a toothbrush and isopropyl alcohol.
If you spilled something sticky or sugar containing drink (milk, coffee, soda, liquor, etc…) you can use regular hot water to clean it up.
If you find wet areas on the motherboard, dry them out very carefully using a soft cloth (without rubbing the motherboard). After that clean these areas using a toothbrush and alcohol.
Inspect hidden areas on the motherboard, like an area under the speaker.
If any liquid damage found, clean it up.
Inspect external ports and connectors on the side of the motherboard.
Inspect both memory modules and memory slots.
Inspect all connectors on the motherboard.
Inspect all cable connectors for liquid damaged. If found, clean it up with the toothbrush and alcohol.
Be careful, some cables are thin and easy to rip.
After the cleaning is done you will have to wait until the motherboard and other internal components are completely dry.
If you used DeoxIT contact cleaner as mentioned in the step 5, it might leave some residue but it’s normal.
You can use a hair dryer or air compressor to dry them faster.
Assembling back together.
It is important how to assemble the laptop back together after you cleaned up the liquid damage.
You will have to assemble everything back together one step at a time and test after each step.
Before installing the motherboard back into the case and connecting anything, plug in the AC adapter into the MagSafe board.
The LED on the power plug has to turn on and remain solid green. If the LED lights up, you can jump to the step 12.
If the LED doesn’t turn on, try reconnecting the MagSave board to the motherboard and test again.
If still there is no LED light, it’s possible the MagSafe board was damaged and has to be replaced.
The MagSafe board can be easily unplugged from the motherboard and replaced.
You can search for a new replacement MagSafe board using the part number from the original board.
In my MacBook Pro I had a board with the following number: 820-2565-A
If the LED light doesn’t turn on even after replacing the MagSafe board, most likely the motherboard is fried.
Just to make sure, take another look at the motherboard. Maybe you missed a spot with liquid damage.
You can continue assembling the laptop if the LED light on the AC adapter plug turns on and remains solid green.
Install the motherboard into the laptop and connect the following:
– Video cable.
– Cooling fan.
– Memory (if you removed it earlier).
Do not connect any other cables.
Plug in the AC adapter and try turning it on as normal. Push on the power button.
If the laptop turns on and boots to a white screen with a folder and flashing question mark, it’s a good sign. Turn it off, connect the hard drive and try turning it on again.
If the laptop boots properly to the desktop, turn it off and start connecting remaining cables one by one and test after each step.
Hopefully, after you connect all remaining cables will run as before.
If it doesn’t turn on after step 12, here’s what you can try.
Disconnect the laptop keyboard from the motherboard and try turning it on using the power-on pads.
If the laptop turns on via power-on pads (while the keyboard is disconnected) most likely the keyboard was damaged and has to be replaced.
Here’s how to replace failed or damaged keyboard on a MacBook Pro 13″, 15″,17″ unibody .
If the laptop starts properly with the internal keyboard disconnected from the motherboard, you can connect all other cables and test it with an external USB keyboard and mouse.
If everything works fine with an external keyboard connected but the laptop doesn’t start (or doesn’t work properly) with the internal keyboard connected, it means the internal keyboard failed and has to be replaced.