Help (spilled coffee on the keyboard)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by parthi.subu, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. parthi.subu macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2011
    Hi all,

    I have a 13inch Air with ultimate configuration, recently had an accident my son spilled coffee on the keyboard.

    We were on our way out at that time and i simply wiped of the coffee with some tissue and clean cloth and closed it off before we headed out.

    Came back and opened it up and nothing was happening, long press on the power button and gave it a while before i clicked on the power button again, still nothing.

    I'm very worried now.

    I'm comfortable with osX, ubuntu recently had installed rEFIt and had installed ubuntu on another partition, i understand that it pretty much voids my warranty and guarantee ?.

    I'm ok with opening it up and have it cleaned and left in rice for a while to absorb any moisture and giving it another try to boot up.

    issue is MacBook Air 5-Point Pentalobe Screwdriver, cant find it anywhere and not able to find any UK based seller.(while writing this thread i found one

    is there any advice or tips that i can follow? which can lead to better results?

    in worst case scenario , is it worth it to just go to an apple store and ask them to have a look?

    as i said before, i'm worried, worried about the data and worried about dual boot installation since this is my first apple product not sure what response to expect from the apple support personal.

    thanks for your advice, appreciate your response.

  2. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2009
    Folsom, CA
    Good chance it's ruined, best case scenario is the warranty is void and you have a pretty good size repair bill to face. The only way to know what you're facing is to take it to the Apple Store or an AASP and have it professionally diagnosed. You may want to look into your home owners insurance or if you paid for it with a credit card see if that card has any accidental damage insurance.

    As far as the data unless you have been backing up good chance that's gone too.

    Consider this a difficult lesson on caring for a computer and why backup is important.
  3. Beaverman3001 macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2010
    Take it to a store, no one here will be able to tell you how things will play out. Some days you might get a genius who doesn't care, other days you'll end up with a repair bill. But look at things logically, you (son rather) spilt coffee on it, it really isn't Apple's fault/problem to fix that, but you never know you might get lucky.
  4. parthi.subu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2011
    At the moment its going through the rice treatment while i wait for the crazy Pentalobe screwdriver to arrive, I will pop in and have a chat in the local apple store and see what they think.

    i might just open clean it up and see if it works,

    if it was just mac os with out ubuntu i would have gone to the store, since i have ubuntu with refit i'm hanging on for a while.

    anyways its my fault i should have not let my 2 yr old son anywhere near my desk with coffee cup next to it .. accident waiting to happen ..

    data is backed up .. i'm just worried about the dualboot with rEfit and apples response to it

    thanks for your suggestions

  5. bri1232001 macrumors newbie

    Jan 4, 2011
    So you did the worst cleanup job ever on a ~1500 dollar product and then just left to deal with it later?

    I hope whatever you had to do was that important.

    Me, I could be on the way out the door with my wife in labor. That MBA is getting properly dealt with first.
  6. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040


    May 20, 2010
    Boulder, CO
    Apple doesn't care about software modifications to their MacBook line. They only care about hardware modifications (including added sugar, dried coffee, corrosion, etc...). Liquid damage WILL void your warranty, while rEFIt will not. Personally, I don't like rEFIt.
  7. rjphoto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2005
    Best case scenario is that the drive is recoverable.

    Is it solid state or Hard Drive?

    Once you get the screw driver you can take the drive out and see if the data is accessible with an external case.

    There are places that can attempt to "wash" out the machine.

    good luck.
  8. solaris7 macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2008
    Seems like people value different things.
  9. Le Big Mac macrumors 68030

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Best case is it dries out and works again, but that's unlikely.

    My wife did something similar with a MacBook. Dried it--no joy. Opened it up and cleaned places with distilled water. Still no joy. Gave up and have a $1000 toy computer for my daughter.
  10. AlphaDogg macrumors 68040


    May 20, 2010
    Boulder, CO
    If it is an ultimate MBA (meaning its a newer one that came out with more configurations), as the OP said in her original post, it is a "blade" SSD.
  11. rjphoto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2005
    Missed that part. I know the new models are all solid state, I guess I was thinking it could be an older one with a Hard Drive.

    You are right, THAT really is the "Best" case, but if not and if the logic board is fried, hopefully the SSD would still have the data in tact.
  12. sraber macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I had the same thing happen to my black MacBook about six months ago. It died instantly. I let the coffee drain out the ports on the left side for several hrs. After I got home I elevated it on a box and directed a fan into the vents on the back side for about 10 hrs. I hit the power button in the morning and it came on! You should have seen the grin on my face. :D
    It's still working today.
  13. Psychmike macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2008
    I was at a conference when my co-presenter accidentally dropped his glass of water right over my 11" Macbook Air. There was a puddle of water over the keyboard. I turned it upside down and closed the screen and watched the water drain out.

    After the conference (2 hours), I walked to the nearby Apple Store and explained to them what happened. They took it apart in the back and then brought it back. They said that it appeared to be working just fine and mentioned that the water hadn't even tripped the water immersion sensor stickers.

    Just lucky I guess!

  14. parthi.subu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2011
    The reason I was not worried much was, the spill was not massive, and it was not running every where.

    Still waiting for my kit to arrive and the Air is submerged on the rice .. tempted to take it out since its been there for a while now.

    Thanks for explaining the hardware and software change in warranty, will hit the store tomorrow.

    Hopefully I will get some one in a good mood ..

    My wife is the one who is very nervous in all this.. waiting for her chance to pounce on me for not looking after it .. hahaha
  15. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    Turning it upside down would have been very helpful.

    I would do the following, immediately.

    Take the logic board out of it.

    Clean it in denatured alcohol via a soak bath for 24 hours.

    Remove and leet dry for 72 hours or more. Honestly, the longer the better but alcohol dries fast in reality.

    Reinstall. Say a few prayers. Go for it.

    I would plan on needing a new keyboard, as that is likely. You can take the keyboard fully apart and clean it but they are very fragile and easily ruined by even the smallest spills.

    The longer you wait the less likely it will work. I think now is the perfect time. O wouldn't try to power it on without ensuring a full cleaning and drying of the logic board.

    I have had some successful recoveries like this with Macs and PCs. I even used soapy water to clean after a soda spill on a family member's MacBook. Best wishes with it.
  16. bilals macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2010
    Pretty much what Scottsdale said, but I'll throw my story into the mix...

    In Dec 2009 I was given a late-2008 13" MacBook that not only had been the victim of a coffee spill but had then been put back in the box, returned to where it was bought and then left in its box on a shelf for TWO MONTHS before I got it. By that time the coffee had caused quite a bit of corrosion in there and there was green stuff. It even got into the DVD drive. The keyboard has lots of holes in it(maybe for ventilation) which meant the coffee went straight through without getting caught by a tray or similar. Also, it seemed some adventurous type had tried to poke around in there before me and had ruined some screws and ripped some wires.

    The long version is here:

    But the short version is:

    I spent about 6-8 hours cleaning it thoroughly. I took it completely apart right down to the unibody(I'd be lying if I said I didn't spend a good 30 minutes just admiring the machine work on that casing!) and removed the logic board and cleaned it with isopropyl and a toothbrush.

    After cleaning, it wouldn't turn on but it's because the coffee had got in between the two layers of the keyboard membrane. Bear this in mind because the keyboard has the power button, so if it doesn't turn on, don't lose heart!

    You can turn it on manually by using a thin wire to touch two pins(5 and 29 on the MB) on the keyboard connector but only after you've cleaned it to avoid any short-circuits caused by liquid. I'm pretty sure Macs can't be switched on by USB keyboards anymore, but at least you'll know where you stand.

    When I peeled my keyboard membrane apart, I ripped a few of the traces but I took it apart just to find out which pins were connected to the power button so didn't mind that it was destroyed in the process as I knew I'd have to buy a new one anyway.

    It wasn't all roses - I had to buy a new keyboard of course and a new lid switch magnet/IR cable(which was probably broken by me!). I also got a new DVD drive. The damaged one still worked, but it would not read discs now and then so I thought what the hell. I spent about GBP100 on parts but it was worth it in my eyes.

    It's now April 2011 and the MB is still going strong. I've had absolutely no problems with it whatsoever.

    I say jump in if you're not scared, but just take your time and don't be too hasty to see if it works. I finished my cleaning operation just as it became January 1st 2010, to the sound of fireworks and people celebrating the new year, but left it all to dry overnight and put it back together in the morning.

    Hearing the Apple chime after shorting the pins was one of the happiest techy moments I've had so far!
  17. robertneville77 macrumors member


    Dec 22, 2010
    Balmora, Vvardenfell
    I know exactly how it feels man. I was up late writing an essay, so I had a soda right by my side. I turned around to talk to somebody, and when I turned back to my Macbook, my hand caught the soda and spilled it all over the keyboard. Luckily I immediately turned it off and let it dry out. Even though my Macbook worked after this, I had the annoying sticky keys.

    I now have a Macbook Air, but now I don't place liquids near my computers. So when you get that working or get a new one, be very careful!

    Hope you get that working though, hopefully that's cheaper than getting a new one.
  18. impulse462 macrumors 68000


    Jun 3, 2009
    I really hope you're joking.

    Anyway, to chip in a story, I had a late 2008 15" MBP on which i spilled almost the entire contents of a water bottle onto the keyboard.

    Since those had the removable batteries, I immediately took out the battery, let the water drain, and then opened the back cover and left it under a fan for a week. Once I put everything back together, it worked perfectly, and my dad still uses it today.

    As for coffee, I would take it apart and clean it with alcohol like others are saying.
  19. neal.young macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Irvine, California
    How were you drinking your coffee? If it was black, you have a good chance of the computer being ok. If there was milk or cream in it, you'll need to scrub everything down with distilled water unless you want your computer to smell horrible and be sticky.
  20. pcshrink macrumors newbie


    Jan 3, 2004
    Moorhead, MN
    A silicone Keyboard cover is the very first thing to invest in when you get a Mac Book Air. This would of saved your Air.

    I learned my lesson when I spilled just a drip of coffee on my Mac Book Pro keyboard..never hurt it though....but my heart feel outta my chest!

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