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Water Damage help!

Posted on 2016-08-23
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Last Modified: 2016-10-17
A couple of nights ago I believe a bottle of water had tipped over and enteredy laptop through the keyboard. I didnt realize until water was dripping out of one of my usb ports, when the laptop was lifted on its side.

24 hours left out in the sun I plugged it in. No charge led indication and no laptop action when trying to power on.

Now 48 hours later I tried plugging in again and the charge light came on. I unscrewed and removed the case to expose the internal components. I then tried to power on. The power light and another led (im assuming the hard drive function led) turn on. The screen turns on for 1 second and then the laptop shuts down and goes back to one solid charging light.

My guess is that there was some circuitry damage, but Im not inclined when it comes to that sort of stuff. I have taken a few pictures that I believe would be the damge done due to the spill.

Any insight to this problem and a possible fix or replacement that could salvage some of my laptop's components would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any help you may have!!
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Question by:Dan Myers
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34 Comments
 
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Accepted Solution

by:
akb earned 168 total points
ID: 41768078
No images attached.

In my experience, it won't be worth trying to fix. Even if you get it going, there is a good chance it will fail again in the near future due to corrosion.

You should take the hard disk drive out and attach it to another PC. There is a good chance you will be able to recover you data.
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Assisted Solution

by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 166 total points
ID: 41768091
Nothing attached. Anything other than distilled water will leave conductive crud between traces on the board. Turning it on probably wrecked some circuitry.

It is not worth fixing at all (new motherboard needed plus other part).

Retrieve the drive as noted above.
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Assisted Solution

by:dbrunton
dbrunton earned 166 total points
ID: 41768093
Turn upside down and leave to drain for 48 hours.  Battery out.  Hard drive and memory and CD/DVD drive out if possible.  Could still be water inside.  Give it a shake while outside down occasionally.   Oscillating wiggles if possible while keeping it upside down.

Use a hair dryer set to cold to blow air through the system while still upside down.  Especially around keyboard and keys.

Leave to dry in hot sun.  Reassemble and test it out.  Use an external keyboard and mouse.
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Author Comment

by:Dan Myers
ID: 41768097
Sory, initial posting dialogue had no where to attach images. Until after registration to Expert Exchange.

I have attached to this reply. Thank you so much for the quick responses! You guys rock!!!
20160823_215951.jpg
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 41768099
You can see the crud in the picture and you turned it on. Not much hope really.

You could try removing the board and washing in soap and water, rinse thoroughly twice and dry. I clean electronic boards this way.
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Expert Comment

by:dbrunton
ID: 41768107
Brown or malt Vinegar.  

Use vinegar carefully splashed or wetted onto board.  Leave for five minutes or longer and then wipe off.  If the crud doesn't move repeat with more vinegar and leave on board longer.  Careful not to get vinegar into connectors or joints.
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Expert Comment

by:akb
ID: 41768115
Do NOT use water or soap to wash the board. You will only do further damage.
You need a commercial circuit board cleaner.
If you don't want to spend any money, use metholated spirits and leave it for at least 24 hours before powering it back on.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41768120
I disagree. I have long washed boards (out of their case, and powered off), rinsed and dried them and used them again. Done this for expensive Oscilloscope gear.

Of course, commercial circuit board cleaner works but can be pricey.
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by:dbrunton
ID: 41768123
I'll second the methylated spirits in preference to vinegar.  But vinegar if no meths handy.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41768125
@Dan Myers - you can you what you wish from the above. Key is to rinse thoroughly (means removing the board) and drying thoroughly. I agree with 24 hours.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41768247
i have also "repaired" water damaged boards
what i did is this :
- do NOT power it on - - i believe you powered on too early
- dismantle the system
- rinse and clean with water and mild soap - brush away residuals
- let it dry above an heater for 2 days (you did that in the sun - but how was the humidity?

it worked everytime for me - unless the laptop was under power when the spill happened
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41768361
I agree with thinkpads, there is no problem washing the board with plain water, as long as you allow it to completely dry before applying power to it again. But it is important to not apply any power when things are wet, as that can cause short circuits and damage the electronic parts on the board.

As it seems you have applied power to the board before it was dry, it looks very much as if the damage has been done. Whenever you have water or other liquids spill on your electronic parts, and it is not powered on, or if it is powered on, remove the power cord and battery immediately. After that open up the case and remove all parts. If the liquid was a drink and not just water, rinse everything (except the display) with plain water so the drink's sugary stuff etc is removed.

After that allow everything to get completely dry. One reason for removing things from the case is that it can then dry. Inside the case it won't dry properly and it can take days. Besides you can't see for yourself whether there is any liquid left or not.

Now you can reassemble the parts and try powering on again. If you have assembled everything properly and not much happens, the damage has already been done and there is nothing you can do short of replacing mainboards etc.

You can try selling the PC 2nd hand for parts. The display probably won't be damaged if the water didn't get to it, and many people may have the same laptop with the display broken. Or the CPU will probably also still be OK, someone might need to upgrade his CPU (unless it is a netbook with an Atom CPU, those aren't removable).

If you want to sell it, make sure you make it clear that there is water damage, and also say which parts got immersed so the potential buyers can get a picture of which parts may still be usable. Don't expect to get a high price when you sell it.
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Expert Comment

by:serialband
ID: 41769732
You got to stop turning on electronic devices if there's water damage.

If you're going to wash the board with water, you should use distilled water, otherwise you may end up with mineral deposits everywhere.

If you're going to take it apart, then you should take the board and put it in the oven at 50-80 C (122 - 176 F) for 10 - 20 minutes to dry it out faster.  Make sure your board has no plastic components or tapes before you attempt this at the higher temperatures.  Use lower temperatures and run it longer if you have components that will melt.  Those temperatures are low enough that solder won't melt, water won't boil, and should be safe enough for the silicon chips too.  You can't do this with every circuit board now.

Alternatively, get some 99% alcohol and rinse the board to displace the water.  Use a compressed air to blow it dry.  Repeat.

There are also electronic contact chemical sprays that you can use.  https://www.amazon.com/WD-40-Specialist-Electrical-Contact-Cleaner/dp/B00CMT9TFY
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41769920
There is no need to wash with distilled water. Although you can get mineral deposits, those are minute and they have no chance on making any difference to the way the board works. You can also get deposits on it by just touching it, and that won't make any difference at all. The important thing is that everything is completely water free before you apply power to the system. The minerals and salts that are within the water while the water is still there is what causes damage, as those minerals and salts can make the water conductive, which distilled water is not.

If you have a board that is totally clean, you can immerse it in distilled water and then apply power to it, and it will work. That would be the only reason to use distilled water...
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Expert Comment

by:serialband
ID: 41770302
Those surface mount components are tiny and much closer together.  The contact points are under the chips where water can get trapped.  The chips aren't exactly flush to the board.  They're siting on solder.  It's better to displace the minerals with either distilled water, 99% alcohol or electronic contact cleaner.  It will reduce the conductance of any water that gets trapped and can't evaporate quickly.  Both the alcohol and contact cleaner are meant to evaporate quickly at room temperature.  Distilled water should still be dried out.  You're only displacing water and some of the minerals will remain, hence my suggestion of using the oven.

Washing with regular, mineralized water has never been a good idea.  Don't just run your board under the faucet or dunk it into a sink full of water.  Some of it may get trapped underneath the components and not dry out quickly enough.  You'll have short circuits.  That's why it's not turning on now.  Distilled water is still minorly conductive, but at low voltages, it does not affect the voltage levels very much.  You shouldn't be standing in distilled water with high voltages around.  The conductance will increase a little with the mixing, so you must still dry it out.  The point of using these to displace the water is that you'll likely not get rid of all trapped liquid underneath, without waiting a very long time or heating up the board.

If you keep attempting to turn it on before all that mineralized water is gone, you may be damaging some chips.  You may have already damaged some chips.  It depends on whether you shorted out the higher voltage sections to the lower voltage chips.  Shorting out the low voltage sections just cause data error, but your system will recover.  Sending the higher 19V to the 5V and 3V chips could damage the chips internally and invisibly.  Sometimes it's bad enough to blow the chips, but much of the time the damage will be invisible.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41770363
while theoretically it is better - i never had any problems using normal water, even with mild soap
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41770394
As long as everything is dried as I mentioned earlier, any minerals and salts left would be in such microscopic sizes and numbers and would make no difference, even under SMD components, and they also aren't conductive anyway. It is only in combination with water that they make the water conductive.
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Expert Comment

by:Scobber
ID: 41771312
remove the motherboard and all other pcbs

submerge in metho for 24 hours. s this will draw all the moisture out from under ic's etc...

remove from metho and give a good clean with a toothbrush and co contact cleaner. this will prevent corrosion and connection issues due to corrosion.

because it took you so long to notice, the computer is likely stuffed.

usually when you drop something in water or the toilet you need to get the battery out as soon as practical to prevent damage to sensitive electronics.
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by:Scobber
ID: 41771315
distilled water is a big no.
the reason why its not conductive is because it isn't mineralised.

distilled water touching metal in particular WILL make it as conductive as normal water. it will take time but not as long as your making out.

Typically you need something to dry the water out, and a solvent to clean the residue left behind.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41790858
Any news, Dan-Myers?
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by:dbrunton
ID: 41791549
Count me out of any points allocation in this question.
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by:Scobber
ID: 41792122
In the spirit of the question as we all know 48 hours is a long time to wait before doing any real remediation on it, I feel that the points should go to the first and second answers.

They are the only answers to the op's question
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 41792248
distributing points, and selecting answers is the asker's call
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Expert Comment

by:olko best
ID: 41821152
Don't try to power on! You allegedly have a ThinkPad, that can be used with water on keyboard - it's had special hole and water flows under your laptop
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Expert Comment

by:serialband
ID: 41842032
Cleaning with water is not really the best way.  Yes it can be done, but electronics industry actually doesn't do that because you really need to carefully dry it out by either waiting a long time or putting it in a kiln, both are time and money wasters.  My suggestions allow you to get to work on the boards much faster, because alcohol and the electronics cleaner spray dry much faster.  They do sell electronics cleaning sprays for a reason.  Even iFixit tells you to use alcohol as an official way to clean electronics, although they should have recommended the electronics cleaners too.  https://www.ifixit.com/Wiki/Electronics_Water_Damage

This is similiar to the disk clean room topic where some experts are totally against opening a disk without a clean room and it's actually ok to open for a short time if you're just planing on getting rid of the disk.  I don't deny that you can clean with water, but it's still not the very best solution.  It requires a lot more waiting and an impatient person may turn on the circuit before the board is completely dry.  It's not an ideal suggestion for an average non-tech and can be more error prone.
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by:nobus
ID: 41842053
why was my answer not good for points?
it has worked fine in the past for me  - and requires no special products - that pollute the environment...
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41842073
Then please weed through all these posts and close it.
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by:nobus
ID: 41842157
i'm not the asker nor  a mod - i don't close questions - only mine
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41842224
Anyone can now close a question, so as I said, click on Close Question and weed through it all to select what you agree with. You guys have objected to my attempt so now the ball is in your court.
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by:dbrunton
ID: 41846363
I'll recommend deleting this question.

There's good comments on how to solve the problem BUT too many comments to work out a fair split.  And there's already been an argument on how to split.

So my recommendation is delete.  No one gets anything.
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by:Scobber
ID: 41846428
I think delete or award the split as I showed above, after those posts there was not really any new information provided. Not trying to offend anyone, I'm forgoing my points too here for the same reason.
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