Under water - literally

By xcalvinx
Jun 13, 2010
  1. So my daughter comes in with a water balloon trying to tie it off and somehow it spews all over the computer. Water got in through the top vent and immediately shut down. In my mind, the MB is toast. But lo and behold I get the thing apart clean up the water and vacuum it out as well and it powers on but won't boot.

    I have a live CD of UBUNTU and it will boot. All indications are that the mobo is okay.

    I think the computer had just been turned on and was still booting when the water hit it so my fear is a true head to disk crash but the hard drives are not making any unusual noises or clicks.

    My first step was to use the Windows CD. By the way I'm running XP Media Center. I didn't setup the machine so I am not sure how the drives are configured... There are two twin 250 GB drives but appear as a single 500 GB

    I booted from CD and went in to recovery mode - it gives me the terminal window with a c:\ prompt but DIR gives an error like, "an error occurred during directory enumeration"

    If I run CHKDSK, I get "The volume appears to have one or more unrecoverable errors." (May not be exact wording)

    I can't seem to do anything through Windows but if use the UBUNTU live cd, the volume mounts and I am able to see and access my most important files (photos, music, vids, etc.). So one of the first things I'm going to do is get an external drive and backup everything I can (which I've been meaning to do anyway).

    This particular machine in my network is too far to run any existing network cables and I can't seem to access the network wirelessly with UBUNTU.

    Can anything be done to either repair or re-install Windows without re-formatting? What other advice might you have?

  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Try to avoid powering up any more until you have taken every measure to remove all moisture... if possible, remove the keboard, and let it rest on absorbed fiber like a diaper for three days or so.

    Usually when the water is finally all gone, your chances of getting it working are good... unless it remained on too long while wet.

    If you are not technically minded, you might have somebody who is partially disassemble it and blow it out with a canned air used for cleaning electronics... Dust off, or other accelerants... but do NOT use compressed air due to the risk of damage from static electricity.
  3. xcalvinx

    xcalvinx TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the prompt reply.

    I think we're good on the power. There wasn't much water to begin with but it managed to fall right near the CPU and it shut down instantly. I have a technical background, I'm just a bit obsolete these days. None landed on the keyboard. Just managed to hit the top of the computer (of course).

    I carefully pulled the heatsink and CPU and used cloth to absorb all visible signs of moisture and then vaccuumed the whole area. I've had experience with cleaning water out of handheld computers in the past so I think we're fine there. In fact, it's been up and running since for nearly two days now and I'm afraid to shut it down. :)

    Maybe, I'm crazy but the MOBO seems fine.
  4. xcalvinx

    xcalvinx TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Okay, we're up and running now.

    Since I didn't build the machine, I didn't know which CMOS settings to use.

    Turns out when you have onboard RAID, it has to be enabled in the BIOS. Once enabled, the disk problems magically vanished and the computer booted like a champ. The only damage the water appears to have caused was a CMOS reset.

    I'll still have to check for corrosion for a couple of weeks but it looks like everything's okay.

    Guess we were lucky...this time.

    Thanks for the response.
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