Intermittent Logic Board Problem with Spilled Tea

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by scsorenson, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. scsorenson macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2015
    Hello, first time poster here.

    Computer is a late 2011 MacBook Pro, 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB ATA (approximately 50% full), previously operating normally. Here's a timeline of events:

    6/23: On an airplane when ~2-4oz of hot tea spilled near upper left section of keyboard (while operating). Computer shut itself down within 5-10sec. Dried all apparent liquid on the outside and rebooted about 5min later. Everything seemed to work, but also was very slow.

    Later that day, removed bottom cover and inspected. No apparent liquid there. Ran AHT to reveal logic board fault. Enroute on a cross-country road trip, shut down and closed it up.

    6/25: Visited local mac repair shop for advice. Removed bottom cover, cleaned, inspected. No visible damage. Advised going to Apple store for consult.

    6/27: At Apple store, activity monitor showed 300%+ CPU usage for kernel task. Advised logic board fault (voltage sensor) and $700+ repair. Apple rep suggested leaving computer open/off for two weeks and restart, as rarely this will fix the problem.

    6/27-7/11: As advised, left computer open/off. Placed near box fan for additional airflow. Applied hair dryer on low setting 5min/day.

    7/11: Turn computer on, and everything worked perfectly. Kernel task usage appeared normal (<2%). No problems. Rejoice!

    7/11-7/15: Worked normally through ~15h of use and 10+ shutdown/boot cycles. No problems.

    7/15: Following unremarkable shutdown/reboot, same problem returned. Very slow, 300%+ CPU usage for kernel task. Reboot to same. Discovered that under another user account, computer still ran very slow, but kernel task overload did not show on activity monitor.

    7/16: After 24h off with air blowing on it, computer rebooted and ran normally.

    7/18: After 36h off with air blowing, computer rebooted to run normally. Restart and AHT revealed same logic board fault. Restart to run slowly with original problem.

    Computer's been shut down since. So... from what I've read here, the slow operation seems consistent with spilled liquid, logic board failure, and buying a new computer. However, the fact that the problem seemingly resolved with drying treatment, then returned, and especially that the kernel task indicator is inconsistent across users makes me think there's hope. Perhaps a software bug introduced by the original hardware insult? Maybe I should dry it out even longer?

    Appreciate any advice or perspectives!
  2. Cuniac macrumors 6502a

    Jan 23, 2013
    Very sorry to hear about you MBP. When the spill happened it probably should not have been turned back on for a day or so to fully dry out before use as the liquid can short the board. Even so, that may not have helped. Water alone can cause irreparable damage to the logic board but when its other liquids its even worse as it can get under the chips and grow bacteria or even mold on the board. At this point its almost been a month and its still having issues. I have to imagine its very dry by now. These steps you have been doing have been surprisingly working but only as a band-aid it seems. You may have to just get that repair.
  3. Dadioh macrumors 65816


    Feb 3, 2010
    Canada Eh?
    The issue is that you ran the computer with the liquid in there. In the presence of voltage the liquid allows electromigration (proportional to voltage) to happen and any exposed copper or solder joints then corrode away. Worse with a liquid like Tea vs plain old water. Since it is driven by voltage then the highest voltage traces go first (screen backlight for example >30V). Also, even if machine is off there is still 12V from battery and the 3.4V that powers the System Management Controller. Those circuits rot fast. Once that happens, all the drying in the world will not repair the corrosion damage. That requires the work of someone with good soldering and repair skills. I know because I do these repairs and I see corroded logic boards all the time from liquid spills where people ran them until they died.

    Upon liquid spill it is imperative to power off the computer, disconnect the battery, and get someone to remove and clean the board with 99% Isopropyl Alcohol.
  4. newellj macrumors 603

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    Intermittent faults are typical with water damage. The chances of avoiding a repair, or replacement, are probably nil, given how it's behaving at this point. :(
  5. scsorenson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2015
    Many thanks to everyone for your replies and insights. I have definitely learned the hard lesson not to power on shortly following a liquid spill incident, and will remember it for the "next time" that hopefully never happens. For that matter, I have learned to just keep all liquids far away from computers.

    Would it be worthwhile to open up the computer to clean up any visible corrosion damage, etc.? A local repair shop has offered to do so for around $200, but cautioned that it may or may not help. We're weighing this against the ~$1000 cost of a new machine.

    Thanks again.
  6. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    If it were me, I wouldn't bother with repair. Save yourself the hassle, and put it up for sale, as-is, for two or three hundred, and then put that towards a new system.

    Logic board and display are the two most expensive pieces in there. One of them is pretty much shot without repair, but you still have a working display, and probably trackpad. Keyboard is arguable at this point, as issues may pop up with that later. Calculate the used value of known "good" components in there, and list it for sale accordingly. I'm guessing no more than two or three hundred though.
  7. Dadioh macrumors 65816


    Feb 3, 2010
    Canada Eh?
    "Cleaning up" the corrosion damage at this point will not resolve the issues. It requires resoldering and/or replacement of components and bridging tracks. I doubt they have that in mind for the $200. As stated by previous poster, sell it for parts and use the money for a new machine.

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