Will my laptop be ok after water spillage?

Hi all!

So after getting out of the shower and going to my room I stupidly leant across my laptop to get some clothes and about 5 drops of water from my hair went on the keyboard of my lenovo e460 laptop, which I didn't notice until about 10 minutes later when I wiped it off and tried to use my keyboard. Cue keys not working and me turning my laptop off and putting it upside down. I left it for two hours and tried booting it up again which was all fine, started typing the alphabet all keys are working again for about five minutes before it begins to freak out, keys not working or not typing anything but a bunch of random letters show up. So Ive turned it off again and left it upside down as I realised it probably wasnt enough time to dry but my question is because the keys worked fine for a bit, do you think my laptop will be ok when it properly dries and how long should I leave it for?

Thanks a heap!

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Water, electronics and electricity are not a good mix.

The water has impurities in it which can cause corrosion to occur and also water is a conductor of electricity so electronic components can be damaged due to electrical circuits being created by the water, which were not not in the laptop's operating design.

If possible try not to use the laptop until it has been repaired and also remove the battery to minimize damage (see p.77 in the service manual-link below). Given that the keyboard is still not working properly it appears that it may have been damaged by the water.

Hopefully the laptop's motherboard, below the keyboard has not been affected. This can be ascertained by removing the keyboard and then cleaning all the affected areas (if any) using Isopropyl Alcohol +90% (see note below) to remove all the corrosion and any remaining water.

Here is a link to an ifixit guide that in general describes the process.

Electronics Water Damage

Unfortunately with keyboards you can cause more problems than what you are trying to solve when trying to fix them. It is usually recommended that the keyboard be replaced.

Here is a link to the service manual. Scroll to p.65 to view the necessary pre-requisites and then the procedure to remove the keyboard.

As keyboards are country specific, here is a link to the parts manual for the laptop. Scroll down to Keyboards to find the part number for your keyboard. It is usually also written somewhere on the underside of the keyboard itself. Once you have determined the correct part number, search online using just the part number only to find suppliers of the part. Here is an example to show what I mean. The part number for a USA Chicony keyboard is 04X6101

Block Image

(click on image to enlarge for better viewing)

Note: Isopropyl Alcohol +90% is more effective in cleaning water damaged electronics than "rubbing alcohol", (best of all is to use distilled water and an ultrasonic bath and allow to fully dry). Rubbing alcohol is usually only 70% IPA or less and also may contain other ingredients such as scents etc. It may also not even be IPA but may be based on Ethanol. If you do wish to try rubbing alcohol, check the label. IPA +90% is available at most pharmacies.

Hopefully this is of some help.

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So there's no chance that it is like this because it's still just drying?

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The corrosion will continue even after it has dried and with the battery still connected and it being used there is a chance that more damage will occur.

If you wish to try DON'T USE IT at all. Also do not try to dry it with hot air etc or even cold as it may blow the water to other places in the laptop. Just dry the outside with a cloth as best you can. Allow natural evaporation to occur. Leave it open and upside down so that the water will also fall out rather than flow around the motherboard. Hopefully you may be lucky.

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Ok thank you. So if I leave it to dry for a couple of days and it seems to work again, is this a sign that I was lucky or that it could still eventually corrode? And if that is the case, how long should I expect before I see signs of that happening? Im clinging to the desperate hope its ok as I really cant afford the 300 dollar repair

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Hi, I cannot say. If you wait 1-2 days and start it and it works OK you will have to play it by ear to see what happens. It may be that it will stay OK or you may notice that it behaves oddly.

As to the repair. if you wish to try yourself and it is only the keyboard that is the problem they range in price from $US18-$US65 for a new replacement. if you are careful and take your time you could do it yourself for well under the price you mentioned. Just a thought.

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