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Old Jun 16, 2013, 11:51 AM   #1
caligomez
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MacBook Air power problems because of wetness

Hey everybody!

I'm posting this as I have not been able to find a clear answer online and I'm hoping someone can provide good advice with this problem. I accidentally spilled some water one my wife's 2012 11 inch MBA (i7 2.0 ghz, 8GB RAM, 128 GB storage) and I need to see if there is a way I can fix it. The water entered from the exhaust vent and the computer was powered off at the time. I left it off for 24hrs (after dripping out any excess from the vents and letting it dry) and powered it on. The computer powers on and performs fine, but there was some damage due to the following problems it has developed. These are:

- battery doesn't work, and computer doesn't even recognize its there. Has an"x" where charge % should be.
- charger LED wont light at all
- has to be powered on with mag safe plugged in, and power button doesn't work on its own
- whenever it is on, fan is always running at high speed
- keyboard backlight no working

So There is no Apple store where I live (would have to get on a plane for that), and I bought it via B&H Photo this past Xmas. I am pretty savy when fixing/replacing internals, so I'm hoping I can fix this myself. However, I can't figure out what the problem area can be, and this is important for repair cost efficiency.could it be the battery? Logic board? A power controller?

Any experts out there that can lend a brother a hand in figuring this out?

Thanks!
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Old Jun 16, 2013, 12:51 PM   #2
TC25
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I searched this forum for 'spilled' and got 345 hits. Yes, this 'problem' has been reported a lot.
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Old Jun 16, 2013, 06:06 PM   #3
old-wiz
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there's very little you can do to repair an MBA yourself. Boards are built by machine and have little room to work in. Parts are not generally available, and diagnosing the problem isn't that easy.

Most likely it's done.
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Old Jun 17, 2013, 04:00 AM   #4
r6mile
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Water and electronics, esp. Macs, don't mix. I speak from experience (2010 13" MBP RIP).

Your logic board is most probably fried, there's nothing you can do about it.

If you had access to an Apple Store, they'd most likely quote you a repair figure close to the price of the machine itself.
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Old Jun 17, 2013, 02:05 PM   #5
old-wiz
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Modern laptops are not built for ease of repair. They tend to have a major logic board and if anything happens to it you pretty much have to replace the entire board. The chips are surface mounted by machine and all but impossible to repair without very expensive equipment. When a logic board goes, even Apple simply tosses it to the recycle pile.

the manufacturers' quest for smaller laptops require them to put more functions onto the board and also to make it easier to build by machine.

It's all but impossible to repair short of replacing the logic board and possibly more.
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Old Jun 18, 2013, 12:23 AM   #6
caligomez
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post
Most likely it's done.
Quote:
Originally Posted by r6mile View Post
Your logic board is most probably fried, there's nothing you can do about it.
Well thankfully it's not totally a goner, as everything works perfectly, except some SMC functions. Moisture is tricky, and I have to wait it out, but if there is no change, at least it works as a desktop.


Quote:
Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post
Modern laptops are not built for ease of repair. They tend to have a major logic board and if anything happens to it you pretty much have to replace the entire board. The chips are surface mounted by machine and all but impossible to repair without very expensive equipment. When a logic board goes, even Apple simply tosses it to the recycle pile.
Oh, no argument there! I wasn't planning on soldering or anything.. I was just hoping to pinpoint the exact root of the issue, as some of these symptoms may not be logic board related (such as battery or power management) and hence a cheaper fix. Alas I have found some good info that points to the SMC. Resetting it doesn't help, but it may be because it still has moisture. I read that cleaning the affected area with 99% isopropyl alcohol can help bring it back to life. I just need to find exactly where the SMC controller is located on the board.

BTW.. Great thread regarding the subject here

Thanks guys!
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Old Jun 18, 2013, 12:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post
there's very little you can do to repair an MBA yourself. Boards are built by machine and have little room to work in. Parts are not generally available, and diagnosing the problem isn't that easy.

Most likely it's done.
So much wrongness

1. the MBAs are assembled by underpaid Chinese workers - not machines.

2. You can replace just about everything on a MBA - but it's costly and time consuming and not for someone new to laptop dis-assembly - see ifixit.com

3. parts are easily available - see: http://www.ifixit.com/Device/MacBook_Air

4. Diagnosing the problem is easy - he spilled water on it.

With all that said - the only hope in fixing the laptop is to

1. NOT turn it on - can't emphasize that enough

2. have it professionally disassembled and dried out

3. have the motherboard tested.

In small clear water spill cases you usually hose your trackpad and/or keyboard but the motherboard can many times be salvaged.

Repairs could cost from $400 upwards depending on what needs to be replaced - it's a crapshoot.
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Old Jun 18, 2013, 01:45 PM   #8
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So much wrongness

1. the MBAs are assembled by underpaid Chinese workers - not machines.

2. You can replace just about everything on a MBA - but it's costly and time consuming and not for someone new to laptop dis-assembly - see ifixit.com

3. parts are easily available - see: http://www.ifixit.com/Device/MacBook_Air

4. Diagnosing the problem is easy - he spilled water on it.

W
Repairs could cost from $400 upwards depending on what needs to be replaced - it's a crapshoot.
So someone could just take, for example, his MBA logic board, trace down an offending surface mounted (by machine) chip without the logic board schematic, find a new chip from some chip supplier, and expertly solder it back in place and viola?

If you want to take the time to replace boards fine, but I was referring to replacing pieces of the individua boards.

By your logic, he could replace the memory if it turned out to be shorted out. Know any individual who can replace defective surface mounted RAM chips in his/her home?
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Old Jun 18, 2013, 02:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post
So someone could just take, for example, his MBA logic board, trace down an offending surface mounted (by machine) chip without the logic board schematic, find a new chip from some chip supplier, and expertly solder it back in place and viola?

If you want to take the time to replace boards fine, but I was referring to replacing pieces of the individual boards.

By your logic, he could replace the memory if it turned out to be shorted out. Know any individual who can replace defective surface mounted RAM chips in his/her home?
Old_wiz - you are out of date. SMD soldering kits and equipment are a common hobbyist item. It takes quite a bit of skill to do but is hardly an impossible task. Google it up.

With that said , yes one would replace the entire motherboard rather than doing a repair - it's been like that for years now. It's less costly still to replace a MB than the entire computer. Used replacement MBs are available through a variety of sources.
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Old Jun 18, 2013, 08:24 PM   #10
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Old_wiz - you are out of date.
You could have your point without the insult.
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Old Jun 18, 2013, 08:32 PM   #11
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You could have your point without the insult.
Being out of date is an insult???
If he doesn't know that hobbyists can solder SMDs to pcbs now then it's a fact.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:21 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post
So someone could just take, for example, his MBA logic board, trace down an offending surface mounted (by machine) chip without the logic board schematic, find a new chip from some chip supplier, and expertly solder it back in place and viola?
Yep. Apple does this to the boards returned to them via the service channels, then places the refurbished boards back into the service parts pool.

My MacBook Air Logic Board is one of these. It still has the handwritten markings on it from when the board was refurbished.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 10:50 AM   #13
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Pick up a pentalobe screwdriver and open the thing up. Guides are available via ifixit and its super simple to do.

What side of the machine did the water go in on?
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 11:15 AM   #14
InfinitiG
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should of waited longer than 24 hours before firing it up
at least 5 days to a week
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 12:28 PM   #15
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Pick up a pentalobe screwdriver and open the thing up. Guides are available via ifixit and its super simple to do.

What side of the machine did the water go in on?
Yes. I purchased the screwdriver, and arrives today. I couldn't find one locally.

I plan to open it up and taking a look, as well as rubbing pure alcohol if needed. I just wish I could find the SMC controller on the board. I've looked everywhere, and can't find any diagrams or pictures, nor a part id#. That way I could take a closer look. I am certain that the problem lies there, as the laptop was showing all the exact symptoms that are consistent with the SMC functions.

The water came in through the back vent, and since the lid was open, I could not see exactly which area was affected most. However, I quickly lifted it, so it might have swirled a bit the water that came in. I did noticed a drop come out of the USB port next to the mag safe. Computer was powered off at the time, so no sounds or screen going black took place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by InfinitiG View Post
should of waited longer than 24 hours before firing it up
at least 5 days to a week
Tell me about it. I'm kicking myself for doing that, but since then it has been resting in a cool airy place. I'm hoping the remaining moisture evaporates and all system management functions resume as normal.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 03:40 PM   #16
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Silly question, but: did you try an SMC reset?
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 07:36 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caligomez View Post
Yes. I purchased the screwdriver, and arrives today. I couldn't find one locally.

I plan to open it up and taking a look, as well as rubbing pure alcohol if needed. I just wish I could find the SMC controller on the board. I've looked everywhere, and can't find any diagrams or pictures, nor a part id#. That way I could take a closer look. I am certain that the problem lies there, as the laptop was showing all the exact symptoms that are consistent with the SMC functions.

The water came in through the back vent, and since the lid was open, I could not see exactly which area was affected most. However, I quickly lifted it, so it might have swirled a bit the water that came in. I did noticed a drop come out of the USB port next to the mag safe. Computer was powered off at the time, so no sounds or screen going black took place.




Tell me about it. I'm kicking myself for doing that, but since then it has been resting in a cool airy place. I'm hoping the remaining moisture evaporates and all system management functions resume as normal.
the magsafe and that USB port are part of the DC-in board. There are a few different moisture sensors inside the machine so they may help you in figuring out what all was hit by water.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 07:47 PM   #18
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Silly question, but: did you try an SMC reset?
Yes.. THe first thing I did when I read about the SMC problem symptoms. Unfortunately, since the power button was not working, it wouldn't turn on after I released the other 3 keys I was pressing. Hence, it did not work.. I will try it again when I try to power it on in a couple of days.



Quote:
Originally Posted by swordfish5736 View Post
the magsafe and that USB port are part of the DC-in board. There are a few different moisture sensors inside the machine so they may help you in figuring out what all was hit by water.
Ahh yes! Thanks for the tip. I hope a Google search can help me identify where these LCI's are located.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 08:48 PM   #19
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With that said , yes one would replace the entire motherboard rather than doing a repair.
Or just buy a one-year old MacBook Air on E-Bay to replace the one that was fried, if the seller completes the transaction that is.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 09:07 PM   #20
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Yes.. THe first thing I did when I read about the SMC problem symptoms. Unfortunately, since the power button was not working, it wouldn't turn on after I released the other 3 keys I was pressing. Hence, it did not work.. I will try it again when I try to power it on in a couple of days.





Ahh yes! Thanks for the tip. I hope a Google search can help me identify where these LCI's are located.
good luck. My brothers 1 month old 13" died after his cat spilled soy milk into the sleeping machine last fall. I ended up replacing the logic board and it is working again. His spill was pretty small but was enough to fry a few different parts on the logic board. He ended up buying it off ebay for around $450(i5,4gb) this was before the 2013's came out so they could be cheaper.
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Old Jun 19, 2013, 09:21 PM   #21
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good luck. My brothers 1 month old 13" died after his cat spilled soy milk into the sleeping machine last fall.
Now that's what I call a cat-astrosphe!

Nah, but seriously, that sucks. I wouldn't be able to easily replace this particular board (if it were to come to that), as it is the i7 2.0ghz chip, with the 8GB of RAM. It would have to be completely dead to go that route and find an inferior spec'd board for "cheap" on eBay. Since the machine technically works plugged in, I'd rather keep it as "desktop".

By the way.. My wife is piiiiissed that I did this to her six month old Air. Hahaha.. I WISH I had a cat, just so I could blame it! Hahahaha
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 09:30 PM   #22
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Woot! Success! The computer now has all system management functions back online. After 4 days of letting it dry, I opened it up, and rubbed out any dirt/co or corrosion with alcohol. Works like a charm, with the exception that it won't stay shut down! Every time I shut it down, it just restarts automatically.

I guess it might go away with use..At least it sleeps, and I can live with that.

All your help was very valuable.. Thank you.

EDIT: Wife is now relaxed.. hahahaha
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 10:08 PM   #23
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Old_wiz - you are out of date. SMD soldering kits and equipment are a common hobbyist item. It takes quite a bit of skill to do but is hardly an impossible task. Google it up.

With that said , yes one would replace the entire motherboard rather than doing a repair - it's been like that for years now. It's less costly still to replace a MB than the entire computer. Used replacement MBs are available through a variety of sources.
The board soldering IS done by machine, while ASSEMBLY is done by people. 99.99% of Air users would never, and SHOULD never, attempt to ever replace anything on a logic board. This is NOT common hoobyist stuff - you may know what you are doing, but that is rare knowledge.
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