Spilled coffee on Macbook Pro - what are my options?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by nicolasvh, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. nicolasvh macrumors newbie


    Nov 26, 2016
    Yes, I feel like a huge idiot. After using Macbook Pro's for almost 10 years, I spilled on one for the first time. Of course it had to be on a near brand new one, a 15 inch MBP 2016. So yeah, it hurts. :(

    The good news: the laptop itself software wise seems undamaged. I can use it as before it seems. Screen is completely fine as well. Touch bar is fine.

    The bad news: it was coffee, so some keys are hard to press due to stickiness and the backlight of my keyboard is not working anymore. On top of that, one USB-C port isn't working anymore. Top left one. I hope I don't find any other broken things, but so far, that seems to be it.

    So what are my options? I know this doesn't fall under warranty, but I just hope I don't need to buy an entire new system. I would be fine with just the keyboard not being sticky. The USB-C port not working anymore sucks, but I could live with that, since I don't use 4 at a time anyway.
  2. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    I take it you don't have any accidental damage on it (Not that it covers stuff like that, if you do make sure you word it very carefully for them so they don't try get out of it). Anyway, I'd suggest a deep clean of the device. Turn it off, google how to take the keys off (Might need a special tool or small splooger thing). Take them all off and clean them. The USB port may just be gunked up and preventing a clean connection.

    If you're confident in dismantling it you should be able to restore it nicely. Otherwise you could take it to an independent repair centre and ask them to do it. You might even want to ask Apple, they might not charge as much as you want.

    It appears to be just 'cosmetic' damage so they'll be a bit more forgiving than if you fried the board or anything.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think you need to have the laptop fully disassembled and cleaned, either by you or someone else. More so if you had milk and/or sugar in your coffee. I would think either one could harm the circuitry over time.
  4. nicolasvh thread starter macrumors newbie


    Nov 26, 2016
    Thanks for the replies. It did have some sugar in it, no milk. I removed the most sticky key and re-attached it. It's a bit better, but still worse than pre-spill. So I'm going to bring it to an official Apple retailer to get it cleaned. I hope it's not too expensive.
  5. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    For a clean up they shouldn't charge too much. If they even bother however. But do take it in, do have puppy eyes, and do try! Things like this either end in disappointment or sincere happiness. It may just be one of those Apple repair situations and depend on who you get. Best of luck!
  6. SteveJUAE macrumors 68030


    Aug 14, 2015
    Land of Smiles
    I agree give it a go but don't rock up in your Hugo Boss suit :D

    Although I do not know what they will do about future warranty maybe at worse they will add an exception to your records
  7. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    I would first go to Apple directly and see what they say. Most likely, they will say that the warranty is no longer valid and that any repairs related to the water damage will be out of pocket, because this voids the warranty, but it can't hurt to ask them for options/opinions. You never know what they will say.

    IMO, if you do not have the board cleaned, it is very possible that corrosion will eventually destroy the logic board completely, since we are talking about acidic coffee with sugar (which will leave a nasty residue behind.) Even if you do have it cleaned, there are no guarantees on the future, but you stand a better chance than taking no action. The problem is that you have already turned the computer on since the spill, and it is already showing signs of trouble (the USB port). If you were lucky enough to spill while the computer was powered off, and did not power it on until it was cleaned, the chances for long term success with cleaning would arguably be at their highest.

    Most of the cost of the cleaning will probably be from the time required to remove and then reinstall the logic board (I'm not sure if this is something they can do right there in a standard Apple Store or not (I doubt it, as Apple tends to replace logic boards instead of working on them, and their logic board refurbishment services are obviously not done in the local stores), or if it is something you would need to go to an Apple Authorized Repair Provider for that specifically offers the service in-house or via a certified 3rd party. From my experience, I have found a preference for Apple Authorized Repair Providers for more complex repairs, as I can speak directly to the person that is going to pull the computer apart. However, I don't have experience first-hand with H2O damage in this regard.
  8. JaySoul macrumors 68030


    Jan 30, 2008
  9. tubeexperience macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2016
    Take your laptop to a third party repair shop and have the laptop cleaned.
  10. macbook whisperer macrumors newbie

    macbook whisperer

    Feb 1, 2017
    Austin Texas
    Unfortunately the keyboards for this model are not yet available on the secondary parts market so Apple is your only option. You will be looking at $1240.00 plus tax.

    What to do when you spill liquid on your Macbook Pro.
    Follow these 3 simple steps after a liquid spill on your MacBook Pro
    1. Power the MacBook down – Shut off the MacBook as soon as you discover that it has been exposed to liquid! The majority of spills occur when the MacBook is powered on and in use, so you must fight the urge to dry it off and continue working. Do not tilt or roll your MacBook while to get the liquid out while the unit is powered on.
    2. Unplug any accessories – This one is important, some devices send electrical current back to the Logic Board thus causing more damage. Additionally having any hole available so the the liquid can escape from is always a plus.
    3. Dry off any and all external liquid – While it will be nearly impossible for you to dry off any of the internal components so make sure you dry of the outside of your MacBook carefully. When drying of the outer parts of your MacBook, avoid rolling the MacBook around, doing so only cause the liquid to pitch and roll throughout the unit unnecessarily exposing more internal components to the liquid. Finally carefully flip the unit over keyboard side down and allow gravity handle the rest. This will direct the liquid away from the main logic board.
    4. Putting your MacBook in rice may give you a false sense of security. Putting your in rice after MacBook water damage has occurred is said (wish I knew said this nonsense) to dry up the water and prevent any additional damage. Rice does not benefit a water damaged MacBook in any way. My guess is that this was a tactic used service providers to deter people from attempting to power on the device after the spill, if your Mac is in a big bag of rice then your not trying to power it on. we all know that it takes every ounce of self control not try to power your Mac on every hour to see if it has come back to life. Remember trying to power on the Mac after the spill is a big NO NO!
  11. slvr_srfr macrumors newbie


    Oct 19, 2015
    Check to see if your credit card offers purchase protection. I know my Citi offers up to 10,000 for damage and theft protection 90 days from the purchase date. Other cards offer different amounts so check with your plan.
  12. nicolasvh thread starter macrumors newbie


    Nov 26, 2016
    Thanks for all the helpful replies!

    Going to bring it in tomorrow. The issue has evolved rather surprisingly though. My keyboard isn't sticky anymore at all. With the exceptions of CAPS LOCK but I never use that. The USB-C ports started to work magically again. I don't really understand to be honest.

    I'm still going to bring it in though, but it's rather remarkable how it sort of 'healed' itself.
  13. jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    It dried out and some circuits started to function. But, the damage is not over. Water and acids from the coffee are likely underneath components on the logic boards. As time goes on they will continue to eat away at the traces and component solder connections. Also, since you likely tripped the moisture detectors, your warranty from Apple is null and void.

    Watch some YouTube videos on liquid damage and you will never again eat or drink near a computer.
  14. nicolasvh thread starter macrumors newbie


    Nov 26, 2016
    Yeah, that's what I figured. The question is: can they clean/repair the logic board?
  15. jerryk macrumors 601

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    Apple will replace bigger units since they do Field Replaceable Unit (FRU) swaps instead of un-soldering components, etc.

    And before you go the 3rd party route, talk to some of the bigger repair shops and see if they have suggestions. They are much more experienced with liquid damage than everyone else. They may even suggest ways to get Apple to deal with the problem and then warranty the work.
  16. elf69 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2016
    Cornwall UK
    This is one reason I bought a silicone keyboard cover.

    not fool proof but at work I am more likely to spill stuff on it.

    I am just going to double side sticky tape the edges of the cover down to seal bit more.
  17. duervo, Feb 10, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017

    duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    The rice thing is a hold over from a tactic used by professional photographers. They would put rice inside their equipment cases during shipment in order to protect the camera equipment from humidity during transit. It works for that purpose because we're talking about minuscule levels of humidity compared to what would be present in a laptop that had actual liquid splashed on it.

    For some reason, there was a significant leap of logic where one or more of them decided that putting a laptop inside a bag of rice will remove gobs and gobs of moisture from it if it were temporarily immersed in liquid.

    To the OP, man ... don't know what to say. Huge bummer. But, wiping down bits and pieces to clean it is not going to cut it. Highly likely that liquid has gotten in between circuits and PCB, where no amount of wiping is going to reach, and where corrosion will continue unabated. Best bet is a cycle through an ultrasonic cleaner, after appropriate repairs are completed.

    You could dunk the whole logic board in 90% alcohol and swish it around for a bit and then take it out to dry ... if you can't afford anything else. Follow up with sprays from a can of compressed air, focusing on areas between chips and PCB, and then let it sit for a week or so before putting it back in, but I don't get the impression that you'd be open to trying something like that ... and that would be an absolute last resort if it were me. I mean, I would have resigned myself to the fact that it was garbage at that point before trying it.
  18. TRClark911 macrumors newbie

    Feb 28, 2017
    Renton, WA
    I agree... A few years back on my old MB Air I splashed my keyboard with coke and had sticky keys and the backlighting went out.

    I took it to an authorized Apple shop and they took it apart and cleaned it for $150. They said I had coke that had dripped down onto the logic board but there was no apparent damage. I used it for about another year before selling it on CL (I did disclose the spill) and never had a problem with it.
  19. Omaroushdy macrumors newbie


    Jan 10, 2019
    Hello Nicolas,
    I just spilled some coffee on my Laptop today and everything was the same as you difference is I took all keys out and cleaned underneath to make sure Nothing went inside the Computer. I am just wondering how did it go when you went to the apple Service? did you Need to replace anything and is the Laptop still working till today?
    thank you.
  20. JoelTheSuperior macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2014
    London, UK
    I wouldn't take it to Apple. The moment there's liquid damage all they'll offer is the flat rate for an out of warranty repair which is ludicrously expensive.

    Open the thing up, clean it yourself and if you experience any issues once it's cleaned (yes, cleaned, not just dried out) then take it to an independent repair shop that knows what they're doing.
  21. Plutonius, Jan 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019

    Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    If it was me, I would take it to an Apple store, have them look at it, and quote a repair price. Another option would be to take it to
    --- Post Merged, Jan 12, 2019 ---
    What year is your laptop ?

    The OP's computer is from 2016 with the butterfly keyboard and I would highly recommend that the OP does not lift keys to clean.

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