Whenever I hear the words ‘I spilled a drink on it’ in relation to electricals I usually suck air through my teeth and prepare the owner for the worst. However on this occasion the client told me that he was willing to try anything to get the machine back into working order or recover his data at the very least. The laptop in question was an expensive high-end rig and was crucial to his work.
I was told that the spill had only been a small glass of water and he turned it off and dried it thoroughly right away. It had then worked for two months subsequently before failing. A very unusual situation on its own.
After explaining to him that I still didn’t hold out much hope for the laptop given the nature of moisture damage, I got to work disassembling the case. What I came across initially is the picture to the right – the power distribution area of the motherboard coated in residue and corrosion, not a good sign at all. I took pictures of all residue that I could find in different areas of the board and continued with my disassembly, adding documentation as I went. Since I had done the bulk of the time-consuming work I decided to at least attempt to clean off the components and see if anything changed. At the very least this would mean being able to spot damage underneath the residue.
I cleared each area with a cotton bud and Isopropanol, the end result being a much more normal-looking interior. I then ‘bread boarded’ the machine components and attempted to power on the machine. It sprung back into life. I then powered down, connected the clients solid state drive and powered back up. The machine booted as if nothing had happened. I reassembled the machine, tested it thoroughly and contacted the customer with the good news. He was delighted with the outcome and several months later the last we heard was that the machine was still going strong without issue.