Keyboard not responding at all, but boot key combos working

MacbookProInMexico

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2019
5
1
Hoping somebody might be able to help me troubleshoot a very strange issue I’m having with my MacBook Pro 15 Touch Bar.

About a year ago, I stupidly spilled a glass of red wine on the left hand side of the keyboard. I immediately shut it down, and left it a couple of days to dry out. I turned it back on, and it worked fine, although some keys wouldn’t respond.

After a couple of weeks, it started working perfectly again, and has been fine ever since until a week or so ago, when the keyboard stopped working completely. Of course, I have no idea whether or not this is related to the initial wine spillage over a year ago, but regardless, I can’t take it in for a warranty repair at the Apple store under the extended keyboard repair program as it would be classed as liquid damaged.

The weird thing is, the boot key combos work fine. For example, apple key plus r on startup enters recovery mode, holding the D key launches diagnostics, holding the alt key loads the boot loader etc. None of these keys work once the OS loads: I’ve also tried booting into windows and the keys don’t work there either, which would suggest a hardware problem. But the fact that the keys work for the boot combos would seem to disprove that.

I consider myself pretty competent at repairing Macs: I used to repair loads of them when I was a teenager to make a bit of extra money, and have easily swapped logic boards, screens etc on mid-late 2000s models, but looking at the repair videos for my model, it appears that the keyboard is basically impossible to separate from the top case itself. I’m thinking of taking it apart tomorrow just to clean the connectors and check to see if anything is obviously amiss, but does anyone have any ideas as to what it could be? I’m reluctant to buy a whole new top case assembly unless I’m 100% sure it’s going to fix the issue.

Thanks in advance
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
64,059
30,604
Boston
It sounds like the spilled liquid may have caused corrosion, unlike water where you may be able to get away with drying it out, wine has other ingredients that could be more caustic.

You could take it apple but you have be completely upfront, they have in the past helped consumers out.

Other then that, you would have to disassemble the computer completely, which its not really designed to do, clean and examine the logic board and keyboard in the hopes that you can spot the corrosion or short circuit. Given how everything is glued down, I'm not sure if that's entirely feasible
 
Last edited:

SDColorado

Contributor
Nov 6, 2011
4,274
4,221
Highlands Ranch, CO
Unfortunately, has sugars, acid and proteins from the tannins. Definitely a bigger long term risk for corrosion and damage than water. It *may* have helped to take it apart after the spill and clean the connectors with some rubbing alcohol and swab. it may be too late now. But you won't know until you have had a look I guess. New top case is definitely an expensive proposition.
 

MacbookProInMexico

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2019
5
1
Yes, I'm beginning to wish I'd taken it apart immediately when the spillage happened, but as it appeared OK, I foolishly assumed everything was fine. I've ordered the screwdriver and suction cup to take it apart: can't do any harm I guess. I'll at least be able to see if there's any obvious damage to the logic board or connectors.

In terms of taking it to Apple, it was purchased in London, UK, but I live in Mexico, so all the Apple stores within 8 hours drive are all "authorized resellers" instead of the official stores, therefore it's extremely unlikely they'll help me out. If by some miracle, I see that none of the liquid sensors have been tripped when I open it and there's no signs of liquid damage on the board, I may take it in, but I reckon that's extremely unlikely.
 

MacbookProInMexico

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2019
5
1
So, I got to work today taking it apart (surprisingly easy when you watch the iFixit videos). From what I can see, there is no evidence of any water damage to either the connectors or logic board, so any problem I assume must be under the black plastic cover of the keyboard. I'm starting to think that this issue may not be anything to do with the wine damage from ages ago.

My question is: does anyone know what the water sensors are supposed to look like when activated? I know that on the older Macs they changed from white to pink, and from what I can see, all of my sensors are white, which would indicate that very little, if any, wine, entered the Mac at all. There are lots of tiny dots on the bottom of the keyboard, but they are simply a standard metal color and don’t appear to be water sensors at all. Indeed, are there any water sensors on the bottom of the keyboard at all? The ones on the casing and logic board appear to be the standard ones I’m used to seeing, and they’re all white.

I put the laptop back together and nothing has changed. If someone could look at the pictures below to give me an idea in terms of if they can see any damage / activated water sensors, that would be great. Thanks.
IMG_0128.JPG IMG_0129.JPG IMG_0130.JPG IMG_0131.JPG IMG_0132.JPG IMG_0133.JPG IMG_0134.JPG
 

_Kiki_

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2017
843
253
So, I got to work today taking it apart (surprisingly easy when you watch the iFixit videos). From what I can see, there is no evidence of any water damage to either the connectors or logic board, so any problem I assume must be under the black plastic cover of the keyboard. I'm starting to think that this issue may not be anything to do with the wine damage from ages ago.

My question is: does anyone know what the water sensors are supposed to look like when activated? I know that on the older Macs they changed from white to pink, and from what I can see, all of my sensors are white, which would indicate that very little, if any, wine, entered the Mac at all. There are lots of tiny dots on the bottom of the keyboard, but they are simply a standard metal color and don’t appear to be water sensors at all. Indeed, are there any water sensors on the bottom of the keyboard at all? The ones on the casing and logic board appear to be the standard ones I’m used to seeing, and they’re all white.

I put the laptop back together and nothing has changed. If someone could look at the pictures below to give me an idea in terms of if they can see any damage / activated water sensors, that would be great. Thanks.
View attachment 829680 View attachment 829681 View attachment 829682 View attachment 829683 View attachment 829684 View attachment 829685 View attachment 829686
Why you didn't show whole second side of the board (this one with main chips like CPU and GPU) ?
 
Last edited:

MacbookProInMexico

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2019
5
1
Why you didn't show whole second side of the board (this one with main chips like CPU and GPU) ?
Was rushing and forgot to take photos: that side was perfect too.

Just to give a final update on this, I put it all back together and made a Genius Bar appointment under the apple keyboard replacement program. They agreed there was no evidence of liquid damage and replaced the whole top case assembly, including keyboard and battery, free of charge. Very happy with that result.
 
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