Laptop Liquid Damage: Best Practices

June 04, 2018
Sustaining liquid damage to your personal computer is something we hope will never happen yet is often one of the main reasons for machine failure. Water and other liquid damage can often lead to extensive repairs or worse, total machine replacement. Taking precautionary measures can help lessen your risk of accidental liquid damage. Should accidental damage occur, implementing best practices could minimize the damage.

To decrease your risk for accidental liquid damage, implement these preventive measures:

  • If possible, avoid drinking liquids near your workspace and while in use. Keep the cup away from your laptop to decrease risk of knocking it over and spilling.
  • Avoid putting water bottles in your bag or backpack with your laptop, in case the cap comes loose. Additionally, the condensation from bottled liquids, paired with humidity, can also cause corrosion on major internal components.
  • Get a laptop bag or sleeve for extra protection. While the fabric or material may not fully protect from a large spill, it creates a barrier for smaller ones.
  • Check the weather before going outside – particularly if it is raining – and take proper measures to stay dry. Rain can sometimes seep through backpacks and bags, posing a risk to laptops and other electronics inside.
  • Backup your data as frequently as possible. Consider purchasing an external hard drive or using cloud storage with Google Drive, iCloud Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive.

What to do if you think your laptop has liquid damage:

  • Immediately power off the machine. Unplug the AC adapter, any USBs, wireless mice, and all other inputs.
  • If possible, remove the battery.
  • Do not power on or charge the machine, as electricity in a wet machine will spread corrosion to internal components and render the damage more detrimental.
  • If there’s any liquid remaining on the keyboard or the external parts of the machine, wipe it clean.
  • If water spilled on the keyboard, turn the machine upside down to prevent the liquid from going deeper. If water entered through the vents on the bottom or through the ports on the side, it is best to move the machine as little as possible to keep the liquid from moving inside.
  • Let it dry for 3 days. Do not put it in rice or use a blow dryer – applying heat will further damage the components. It is best to let it dry naturally, upside down.
  • After 3 days, wipe down any additional residue on the machine, and see if it will turn on.

For additional advice or if the laptop does not turn on after drying it for 3 days or is not functioning correctly after you turn it on, you can contact or visit the Division of IT Support Center or take it to a qualified hardware service provider to have your laptop evaluated. It is also important to note that liquid damage may void warranty on computers, and most repairs will come at a cost. Visit it.gwu.edu and click on support for ITSC's contact center and walk-up desk hours.