You have managed to spill your water tumbler all over your new laptop, and panic has set in. Don't worry; accidents happen, and trust us, it has happened to all of us and happens a lot more than you would think.
Why arent laptops waterproof yet? A good question, but we aren't there yet.
In this article, we are going to explain what you can do to potentially save your water-damaged laptop from an untimely death. We can't promise these tips will work in every case, but hopefully, they will work for you.
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What Happens To Your Laptop When You Spill Water On It?
So first, let's examine why water is so damaging to your laptop. Well, inside your laptop is a lot of complicated circuitry and parts, from the Central Processing Unit to the Random Access Memory and everything in between. This circuitry allows for electrical charges and signals from the processor to the other parts responsible for running your laptop.
The reason why water is so damaging is the fact that it conducts electricity, and this can cause short circuits which blow the complex, tiny circuitry in the circuit board. This leads to parts failing spectacularly. Certain features, like the motherboard and the CPU, are particularly vulnerable.
So can a laptop still work after spilling water on it? Well, this will depend on two things, the amount of water spiller and your luck. If you are lucky or have spilled a small amount, there is a good chance that your laptop will survive. It will also depend upon how quickly you act, as we will discuss in the following section.
What To Do If You Spill On Your Laptop?
The main thing you need to do immediately after the spill is to make sure you remove the device from any power sources as quickly as you can. That means unplugging your laptop charger and powering down your laptop; hold the power button down for a hard shut down.
How To Fix A Water Damaged Laptop? (Step-By-Step Guide)
The first step you need to take is to remove the battery from your laptop. You will be able to do this with certain laptops but not with others. For the laptops that allow it, you should be able to unclip the battery housing and disconnect the battery by pulling out the connector. You should also unplug all peripherals and the USB.
Now you have disconnected your laptop from any potential power sources; it's time to drain it and do damage control. Using a dry cloth, start by removing any visible pools of water, open the laptop as wide as it opens and turn the device upside down.
Place it on a kitchen towel and leave it to drain for a minimum of 24 hours. This step is crucial, so don't remove it earlier just because the laptop looks dry.
Do not leave your laptop in dry rice. This can cause serious damage and, most of the time, results in you having to find stray rice grains inside the laptop, which is not ideal!
If your laptop is a premium model or contains extremely important work, you might want to take your laptop to a professional. This can be expensive, but only you know whether that price is worth paying.
If you are experienced in computer components and repair, you might be able to repair water-damaged laptops yourself. However, you will need to be able to diagnose the damage and figure out which components need replacing to begin with. If you do not know how to do this, we suggest seeking professional help instead of causing further damage.
For keyboard repair, for example, you will need to be familiar with the membrane layers that make up the keyboard and the switches. Then, you will need to disassemble these components and leave them to dry on sandwiches of paper towels.
Once dried out, they can be reassembled. However, if you have a gaming keyboard with mechanical switches, you will need a lot more experience, and we highly recommend seeking professional help as these are fiddly and hard to fix without specialist tools. You can also read our guide on taking care of gaming laptops for a few additional tips.
The most common damage that happens from spilled liquid on laptops in bags and backpacks is water on the screen. Check out our guide on laptop screen repair cost to see what you'll be charged for a water damaged screen.
If you want to attempt to fix this damage yourself, here are the steps. Firstly, remove the battery. Next, you need to remove any of the screws and clips around the screen. Some laptops come with screws and fixings, and some are snap-in.
Using a plastic pryer, you should remove the monitor frame. To do this, insert the tip of the tool into the outer edge and pry gently, moving round in small increments.
Unscrew the casing and remove the screen. Next, put on a pair of cotton gloves to prevent static and pull the LCD screen down and out, resting it on a dry clean surface.
Finally, use a special cloth called an LCD screen cleaning cloth to soak up all of the liquid. You might also use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to help evaporate any remaining droplets.
Follow the steps in reverse to reinstall the screen.
Fixing Water Damaged Laptops: Popular Brands Explained
Certain brands are easier than others to repair, and certain brands will cost more than others to get repaired professionally. Here are the most popular brands and how easy/expensive they may be to repair after water damage.
Dell Laptop Water Damage Repair
Dell laptops are notoriously expensive to repair because of the high-quality parts they install. While it is impossible to give you a concrete figure on a repair cost, from experience, when a friend's laptop was dropped into a small puddle of water (don't ask), the repair bill on his $900 laptop was $500, which is expensive considering the laptop was 1 year old already. In situations like this it might be better to replace the laptop instead of repairing it.
MacBook Water Damage Repair
MacBooks actually survive water damage a lot better than many of the competitors. We think this might have something to do with their experience with phones, which are much more commonly dropped in toilets and bathtubs.
From 3rd party repair shops, the average cost to repair a water-damaged Mac ranges between $250-500, depending on if it needs screen repair, and the level of damage and time taken to get the laptop to the shop.
Asus Laptop Water Damage Repair
Asus laptops sit in the middle range. With parts being easy to find, it means they are cheaper, and the only cost will be finding a good technician. Expect to pay between $300-450 for a mid-high-end laptop.
HP Laptop Water Damage Repair
For budget HP laptops, we have seen reviews stating that repairs can be as low as $120, but across the board, the average seems to be around $300 for their mid-range laptops and up.
Water Damaged Laptop FAQs
How long does a laptop take to dry?
As stated above, you should leave your laptop for a minimum of 24 hours if you want the best chance of saving it without taking it to a repair shop. We recommend this even if you do want to go to a repair shop, either way, as it will dry out the immediate threat.
Can I use a hairdryer to dry my laptop?
You can use a hairdryer on a low setting, paired with a cotton drying cloth or kitchen towel if you can see the water you need to dry. If not, we recommend avoiding using one.
Can I put my laptop in rice?
DO NOT DO THIS. Please.
How long does water damage take to show on a laptop?
This can vary. Large amounts of water will cause damage quickly, and sometimes immediately. Smaller amounts might take several hours if you don’t drain the laptop immediately.
Can moisture damage a laptop?
Yes, using laptops in moist environments can cause similar problems to water damage if the condensed water makes its way into your laptop.
We sincerely hope that the tips above have helped you save your laptop. Dropping liquid on your laptop is one of those heart-wrenching moments, but if you act quickly, your chances of survival increase dramatically.
Holly Curell is a US-based freelance writer & editor extraordinaire. With over a decade of writing technical manuals, blog articles, & even company communications, Holly has a passion for providing value to readers on everything she knows about tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, Holly enjoys reading, hiking, wine, & wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Holly is currently based out of North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Ken & their three children.