Saturday, November 29, 2008

How to Save a Laptop from Liquid Damage

1. Shut it off! Immediately remove the battery, the A/C adapter, and unplug the device after the spill. The biggest danger at first is the device shorting out.

2. Turn it upside down immediately to stop the liquid from traveling deeper into the machine.

3. Clean up any part of the spill you can get to. Use paper towels or any absorbent material that is lint-free.

4. Inspect the keyboard. Some keyboards are designed to protect the internals from liquids:
* Pour out any liquid contained in a keyboard enclosure.
* Remove and clean an easily removable keyboard.

5. Wipe up anything sticky. This may include the screen, the keys on the keyboard, and any buttons. Use a clean, slightly dampened, lint-free cloth.

6. Disconnect and remove any and all external devices.

7. Insulate yourself from static discharge. Static electricity can be very high voltage. Static discharge from your hands and body can destroy even a dry computer. Learn how to Avoid Destroying a Computer With Electrostatic Discharge.

8.Disassemble the case. If you cannot get to the whole spill, then it may be necessary to remove the laptop's case. Most spills will contain chemicals that can corrode internal circuit boards:
* If you aren't comfortable taking your device apart, then get it to someone who is, as soon as possible.
* Pull the hard drive to protect your data.
* Remove as many cards or drives as you can.

9. Remove dry residue. Use a toothbrush or lint-free cloth to gently remove any dried residue from non-water stains such as cola or coffee. Blow the residue away with compressed air.

10. Rinse off the residue. If you spilled anything besides water on the laptop, rinsing it clean will be the most dramatic part. There are several ways to rinse your machine, depending on the kind of spill, and how much risk you are willing to endure:
* Think about what has been spilled on/in your computer, and determine whether it is water soluble or petro-chemical based. In the case of the former, deionized water will work fine. If it is oily, etc., then rinse with denatured alcohol, and then rinse with deionized water.
* Rinse with water. Take any components that have residue (a fresh spill or an old spill of cola) and rinse them under the tap. Most circuit boards and similar non-moving components handle water well, as long as they are not powered. Some internal components with moving parts may not handle water well, for example, fans and CD/DVD drives.
* Rinse with deionized or distilled water. Many people prefer to rinse with deionized water over tap water. Regular water will leave deposits that can cause electrical shorts, but deionized water will rinse clean, dry, and leave nothing behind.
* Don't get too carried away rinsing your machine. Water and laptops do not mix, either. Rinse as much as you need to, and not more. Carefully blot up excess water, if any.

11.Let it dry. Be completely sure that the parts are dry before you proceed. As with rinsing, there are different theories on drying:
* Dry naturally. Prop the machine up, away from surfaces, so that air can circulate in and around the entire unit. Leave the machine to dry for 24 to 48 hours.
* Dry with light heat. Place your deck on a warm radiator or on top of a warm sill or shelf - out of direct sunlight - or near other source of warmth. Do not use high levels of heat, just moderately warm sources of heat. Let it dry for 12 hours, or so. A nearby dehumidifier may improve drying time.
* Never use a hair dryer, as this will cause static problems and fill your machine with more contaminants and dust. A hair dryer at a high setting could also melt some of the plastic components.

12. Clean with a solvent. A second rinse with a solvent-based cleaner is recommended by some, and abhorred by others.
* If you suspect that your first rinse did not remove all of the residue, a chemical rinse of this kind may be worth the risk. The advantages of such a rinse are: there is only one substance to apply and remove; that substance, typically, evaporates; long drying times are not required. The disadvantage is that, if you use the wrong solvents, you can literally dissolve your computer.
* Buy and use 99% (not 90%) isopropyl alcohol. Never, ever use gasoline or acetone to clean computer parts.
* Using a cotton swab, carefully rub or wipe each component of the board, until it is clean.
* Try flux remover, a spray-on can available in electronics stores, rather than isopropyl alcohol.

13.Put the laptop back together, and test it to see if it is working.


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