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Water on Laptop Keyboard


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snaithbert2's Avatar
snaithbert2 snaithbert2 is offline
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29-Jul-2005, 11:58 PM #1
Water on Laptop Keyboard
I'm sure this question has been asked many times before, but I couldn't find any instances of it when I searched the forums, so here goes:

This morning one of my co-workers (a nice guy who is also an idiot) decided to see what would happen if he poured water on my little fan.

Well what happened was that water went flying everywhere. Most of it landed on my paperwork (which is a whole other problem) but some of it did get on my laptop keyboard. My TWO DAY OLD laptop, which as you can imagine almost caused me to murder my co-worker. The only thing that kept him alive was the fact that he looked even more upset than I did. Clearly he realized what a complete and utter idiot he was, but sadly, that realization came too late.

I immediately ran and got some paper towels and cleaned the keyboard, lovingly drying all the water under the keys, etc. The computer seemed fine and so I kept working for a bit because I had a deadline in 45 minutes. Once I finished my work, I started getting scared that maybe the water was slowly dripping into my hard drive, onto my motherboard, etc. So I turned off the machine, turned it upside down, removed the battery and didn't use it for the rest of the day. My plan now is leave it alone for the next 24 hours or so and let it totally dry. As I say, it wasn't a whole lot of water that landed on the keyboard, but I've heard horror stories about a single drop of water totally ruining laptops and so I didn't wanna take any chances. Even if this wasn't a brand new machine, I'd still be worried as hell, mainly because it's in my nature to freak out, etc.

I was just wondering if anyone had any advice on what else I should do, before turning the machine back on? Blow dry it, wait another 48 hours, etc? I just wanna make sure I do everything possible to help my laptop get better. My fingers are crossed that it'll boot up just fine and give me no problems. As I say I worked for 45 minutes after the accident and everything seemed okay. But I know that when it comes to computers- anything's possible. So I want to do whatever I can to help.

Anyone got any thoughts? Rest assured they'd be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Snaithbert

P.S. If there IS a problem (fingers crossed) it's covered under warranty, but oh dear god do i NOT wanna send my 2 day old computer in to be fixed. Something about that really depresses me.
little den's Avatar
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30-Jul-2005, 12:16 AM #2
The best thing you can do IS send it in. They can check it for you and you will have peace of mind. Just leaving it and hoping it's ok will not always work!
I have had the same thing happen to me and I made the mistake of thinking it was dry and turning it on.
One of my 'not so clever' moments.
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30-Jul-2005, 12:17 AM #3
Leave it as long as you can, with a house fan or similar blowing at it to increase evaporation. Try to hang it upside down somehow, to let the water remain (probably none, but you never know) run out the way it came in.

If you can leave it over the weeend, it should be ok. I would say open it up, but that would void the warranty, and as it is only a little bit of water, you should be fine.

Next, take a lump of 2 x 4 and smack your 'friend' upside the head a few times to teach him the value of other peoples property j/k

Scorp.
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snaithbert2 snaithbert2 is offline
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30-Jul-2005, 03:26 AM #4
Well, I called tech support a little earlier and it seems I am NOT covered for accidents (even if I didn't cause them myself). And they said unless there's actually something wrong with it, they couldn't help me, no matter who's paying for it. So now I guess my only option is to wait a couple of days and then turn the unit back on. I can only hope it'll power up and everything'll be fine. In the meantime I took the tech guy's advice and sprayed some keyboard cleaner onto the thing, and I'm running the hair dryer over it now and then to speed along the drying, etc.

My plan is to leave the machine alone until Sunday night and then power it back up and see what happens. If it's dead, my co-worker will pay to repair it. That I'm pretty damn sure of. But hopefully the machine will live on. In the meantime, I wanna thank you guys for your help, I really appreciate it.

I'll keep you posted!

Snaithbert
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30-Jul-2005, 03:41 AM #5
Reminds me of a laptop I fixed once. Guy said it just broke and needed some minor work done...the entire laptop was FULL of Mud! Imagine his surprise when he tried to turn his laptop on! Anyway, vendors almost never cover accidents under the warranty.Usually you are safe from a little water in a laptop though, there is usually a sheet of metal between the keys and the internal components to keep dust and apparently water out. If you didn't get enough water on the board to immediatly destroy the machine, then 24 hours should be more then enough time to let the moisture evaporate.
Alex Ethridge's Avatar
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30-Jul-2005, 05:20 AM #6
The key to this problem is as CS.Scorpion says--a fan and a long drying time will do more for you than a hair dryer--and leave it up-side-down. I think an even better technique than a simple fan might be to turn it up-side-down and open over a floor register vent. The reason is that an air conditioning system extracts moisture from the air as it passes through the cooling coils so the air coming from the vent is drier than the rest of the air in the room. Only one word of caution about this method is that you should let it sit for about 20 minutes after removal from the vent before taking it to a hot environment. Moisture will condense on cold objects in a hot environment.

I have an interesting (subjective?) anecdote. In the olden days (about seven years ago), I occasionally got computers in on trade from industrial environments. They were so full of dirt, yes dirt, not dust, that I decided I had nothing to lose by opening the case and literally washing them out with a hose and dish washing liquid. These were of the (lies flat) desktop type so the dirt was piled directly on top of the main board. There was so much dirt, features of the board were indistinguishable. I mean you could literally turn these things up and dump the dirt out and get an inverted mushroom cloud when it hit the ground. This was iron ore dust accumulation so there was a chance of something shorting at a later date. I felt I had to get it out before reselling them.

I washed a half dozen of them out like that over a period of about a year.

I took them back into the shop, put a fan on them and let it run for several days. Best I remember it was about three to five days on each one.

I lost one of those computers out of the six; but, I got them for near nothing and I could not in good conscience sell them with iron dust posing a threat to the main board.

Another technique I use even today with keyboards (keyboards, not laptops): Occasionally, I get a keyboard in that has had sweetened drinks spilled on them, lots of it. The keys are sticking and unusable so there is nothing here to lose. I take them to the kitchen sink, wash them with hot water and dishwashing liquid and rinse them thoroughly (very, very thoroughly). I then take it to one of the central heat/air registers in my home, remove the cover, put the keyboard in (it sticks out quite a bit; but, the registers are out of the way) and let it stay for three days. I rarely lose a keyboard like this. The key is a thorough rinse and a long drying time.

Now, I'm not recommending dunking laptops in the bath tub to clean them; but, these are techniques I use with equipment that belongs to me so there is no risk to a customer's equipment or data or in situations where there something to gain and nothing to lose.
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accat13 accat13 is offline
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30-Jul-2005, 08:51 AM #7
I would say unless it was alot of water you will most likely be ok.The keyboards themselves look like a rubber sheet,unless the water flowed around the board all should be well.Follow the previous advice about the fan won't hurt thats for sure.PS don't forget to cross your fingers when you do power up and let us know the results.What kind of laptop is it.
brite750's Avatar
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30-Jul-2005, 10:18 AM #8
If you turned it on right after this happened and it still ran fine, your probably ok with the hair dryer, waiting a few days thing, water will evaporate after all so even if a few drops got into the case it will be gone in a few days. Hair dryer will heat the case so dont get carried away and melt it the heat will also evaporate the water. you may just get really lucky, and oh yeah dont let that guy get any where near your lappy again, what a doink. A ruined KB I could live with but a $1000 and up lappy?
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snaithbert2's Avatar
snaithbert2 snaithbert2 is offline
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30-Jul-2005, 11:27 AM #9
Well to be honest I only ran the dryer over it for 5 minutes or so (on the cool setting) but that's really because I got lazy. I did however spray a whole lot of that keyboard spray air stuff onto the keyboard, as recommended by the tech support guy. I figured what the hell, it's only 4 bucks a bottle and I'm gonna make this jackass from work pay for it anyhow. So I may just take that hair dryer back and forget about it, get my 10 bucks back, etc.

But I will absolutely train my fan on the unit and I don't plan to power it back up until absolutely necessary, which will be tomorrow night I guess.

Question for Alex:

When you say to leave it upside down, do you mean open, or closed? I have it upside down now closed, but I could try it open. I just didn't like that idea because it seemed to put a lot of stress on the unit when I tried it. Maybe I'm an idiot for thinking that, but somehow it just didn't seem like a good idea to leave it that way. Am I wrong? Should I just leave it like that with a fan on it?

Sorry if these are stupid questions, but I just wanna make sure I do everything correctly here, or at least as well as I can, etc.

Frankly I can't believe I made it to 33 without ever spilling anything on any of the computers I've owned. And actually when you think about it, my record is stil intact, because it was this moron at work who technically spilled the water. In any case I'm new at this. But I already feel 1000 times better just from the stuff you guys have told me and I want to thank you again for all your help. I really really appreciate it.

Cheers,

Snaithber
Alex Ethridge's Avatar
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30-Jul-2005, 03:44 PM #10
Yes, simply opening it up-side-down on a flat surface will stress it. Roll up a magazine and place it in the apex to relieve the stress.

One thing worries me about using compressed air: Compressed air will blow droplets around faster than it will evaporate, possibily pushing those droplets into more damaging places.
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30-Jul-2005, 04:23 PM #11
Water is the least problematic for the machine. I'd use the hair dryer and actually use some heat on it. FWIW, I've actually removed keyboards and washed them when stuff like coke or coffee was dumped into them, I've had a good success rate. Leaving it with a high power fan on it for as long as possible isn't a bad idea either...
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snaithbert2's Avatar
snaithbert2 snaithbert2 is offline
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30-Jul-2005, 10:00 PM #12
Okay, got it upside down and got something under there for the apex to rest on. There's a fan blowing on it and I'm gonna leave it like that until at least tomorrow afternoon, which is when I'm gonna need it to do some work stuff for monday.

My feeling is that it's gonna be fine. It wasn't a lot of water that spilled on it and I managed to clean it up quickly, plus I did work on it for an hour afterwards (out of necessity, believe me I didn't want to). I also turned it on and off once just to make sure it could still do that (and it could) before I powered the unit down for good. Since then I've left it alone my hope is that when I turn it back on tomorrow- everything will be okay.

As for the compressed air, I'm hoping there wasn't much weren't any droplets left in there for the air to push around by the time I used the compressed air. The accident was at 11 am, and I used the compressed air at midnight. My feeling is that most of the water had long since dried, but of course I can't be sure of that. There may still have been moisture in there (god I hope not) but as for droplets, my guess is those were gone by the time the compressed air entered the picture.

So for now I think I've done all I can and the only thing left is to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. I wanna thank all you guys for all your support, it's really made me feel a lot better about this.

I shall report back with my findings!

Cheers,

Snaithbert
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ineedhelp890 ineedhelp890 is offline
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30-Jul-2005, 10:51 PM #13
Don't worry about it after a day I would say it's okay to use.
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30-Jul-2005, 11:03 PM #14
As you describe the incident, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Letting the thing dry out as long as possible in a moderately warm and arid environment is a good choice, but it is not likely that the machine is damaged.

You didn't specify brand, but those laptops I have had occasion to pull apart all had membrane covers over the keyboard switches. This provides perfectly adequate protection against stray drops of water, though of course that doesn't mean you should be cavalier about liquids and food around your machine.

It is extremely unlikely that the machine has sustained any damage.
snaithbert2's Avatar
snaithbert2 snaithbert2 is offline
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30-Jul-2005, 11:09 PM #15
Well, I do hope you're right, believe me.

And I think it's gonna be fine, but it's in my nature to worry.

If it helps it all, it's an HP laptop.

Really nice centrino type model that works really well (when people aren't spilling water on it).

I think I'm gonna let it sit until tomorrow and then power it back up.

With any luck, the next time you hear from me, it'll be to say my laptop is alive and well!

Cheers,

Snaithbert
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