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Arghh - water and laptops dont mix

By Samputer ยท 10 replies
Apr 4, 2008
  1. hi everyone

    i'm having a really weird problem here and was wondering if anyone could advise/help;

    basically - i spilt just a really tiny bit of water on my laptop - really was so small taht i didnt even bother turning it off/leaving it to dry (stupid i know) but it really was only a drip or so.

    the day after, i turned the thing on to find that i am having problems with my shift keys. can't use it in conjunction with another key (eg to get certain capitals -one shift will work to make capitals or symbols etc but the other wont and vice versa - it was annoying but not a major problem because in the worst case scenario i would just plug in an external keyboard if i had to.

    however today (about 36 hours after originally spilling it) My laptop is dual boot with vista and ubuntu, i booted into windows and almost immediately it locked up. it now happens every time. windows gives me the option to cancel the process blah blah blah. this is for anything that i try to open or do.

    however, in ubuntu (after rebooting) it runs fine (the keyboard is still wrecked but yet nothing locks up at all.)

    the only thing that i can think of is (although this may be a bit crude) is something to do with the fact that ubuntu is 32 bit - isnt vista ultimate adapted for 64 bit? and i have a amaged processor- i think i may be talking crap though. sorry.

    i opened up the laptop earlier on and dried it all out with a hairdryer but yet the problem persists and i couldnt see any remains of any water in there at all - not even a small bit.

    i would reformat the windows partition, however would take decades for backup lol and really dont wanna do it unless absolutely have to.

    i am a student and have a big project in for tuesday that really needs doing and this is the main pc that i have access to over the weekend. also im obviously skint lol. Therefore any help would be greatly greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    hairdryer - wrong answer.

    you need to use 100% pure isopropyl alcohol. alcohol is a hydroabsorbant

    do NOT use denatured alcohol or a mix. You may have to purchase this from a chemical supplier.

    If you are able to obtain desiccant packs, they help also.
  3. Samputer

    Samputer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Thanks Tedster,

    i can get hold of some of that im sure from somewhere, but this would be unlikely to fix the problems already would it? or would it simply prevent more shorts happening?


  4. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    if you have shorted a chip, then you're screwed, but what the alcohol will do is remove any residual alcohol. your data should still be safe though.

    You might need to use a q-tip to apply. the problem with a blowdryer is it can overheat and warp components.

    You can also try electronics cleaner (about $10) at any electronics shop. spray in a well ventilated place. Try the latter first. Wait a few days for it to thoroughly dry out and retry.
  5. Samputer

    Samputer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17


    thanks, im not sure if theres anything shorted but it seems a bit weird to me that ubuntu is working fine and windows not - do u think its worth taking out my hdd before doing this because i obviously dont want to lose data and i doubt that would lock it up would it - and if it was that that had corrupted wouldnt it damage both OSs.


  6. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    Worst case scenario is the Keyboard controller shorted out, since the system still boots. Depending on model it can be replaced by a skilled tech.

    Best Case Scenario - the keyboard is internally shorted, under the layered plastic. Replace it for about $20 (on ebay)

    After 36 hours it should have dried. If sunny in your area, remove keyboard and leave in the sun or window sill for an afternoon. (not the whole laptop). That may simply be enough to dry out the layers of plastic under the keyboard.

    Various tests:
    Test to see if Keyboard controller is gone, attach a USB keyboard and if all the keys in Windows work.

    Remove keyboard and see if Windows works without an error.

    Windows tend to poll the keyboard more often than other OS's because more is going on between clock cycles, and everything has to give the OS the ok to continue without giving an error. And it never hurts to back up, Just In Case

    my two cents
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    absolutely. remove the hd.
  8. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    From what you describe, your laptop is fixable.
    Something that also works is to use a couple of cans of difluoroethane gas such as Dust Off or other canned cleaner.
    Turn the laptop upside down, and blow it out repeatedly. At this stage, using denatured alcohol or 90% isopropyl found at Wal-Mart or Wal-Greens will work fine to remove any remaining moisure. Then blow it out again with the canned air.
    Leave the laptop upside down for two or three days.
    If you are skilled with tools, remove the keyboard and clean the case with the canned air... and if you see "stuff" use the alcohol. Do not use water.
    We have rescued hundreds of laptops this way, even those which have had a cup of coffee or a coke spill. The main problem is sugar.
    As suggested, consider replacing the keyboard which can be done for under $50 new or $15 used.
  9. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    Hey RAYBAY

    I seen you've dealt with the sugar residue also, What a pain!

    Had one where she spilled red wine on a Dell 6000- ARRRGH!! Corona on a Toshiba A-75, and coffee on a Dell D530 - 3 weeks old! (he cried) that vaporized chip caps in the DC charging section.
  10. Samputer

    Samputer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Thanks alot for all your advice guys - im really busy atm but will get all this done over the next few weeks and will let u all know how it goes - in the mean time, bearing in mind that i cant see any water remaining inside the laptop, do you think it could cause any damage using it? i mean atm i am using it now to post this (like i say, linux works fine)

    thanks once again, sam
  11. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    You don't want ANY moisture in there. None.
    I would go so far as to put a couple of small bags of dessicant to help remove what moisture might be there.
    A desiccant is a hygroscopic substance that induces or sustains a state of dryness, and you have seen them in almost every electronic device shipped from Asia or Europe. Radio Shack, Best Buy and other such places through out a lot of it every day.
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