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John T. F.
John T. F., Mac Druid
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 3058
Experience:  20+ years in the computer/Mac industry
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My son spilled his drink near my laptop. Only about 2 tbsp

Customer Question

My son spilled his drink near my laptop. Only about 2 tbsp reached it...MacBook now getting file folder with ? error icon - can't find startup. This laptop was a hand-me-down gift so I unfortunately do not have any of the startup discs. How can I attempt to fix this. My future, literally, depends on it.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  John T. F. replied 5 years ago.
Hello! My name is John, a self-employed tech, and I'm offering my time in good faith today to assist you on this question.

How long ago did this happen?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
about 30 minutes ago now...maybe 45 tops.
Expert:  John T. F. replied 5 years ago.
Okay, don't try to use it at all. Immediately turn it off, unplug the power cord, and if it has a removable battery take it out.

What was the drink that was spilled and where did it land, in the keyboard?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have a keyboard protector on it. Can promise that no liquid went into the keyboard. I can't get the battery out. Tried. Unlocked it - am trying to lift from the side as I saw online in a diagram - won't come out. Any tricks>
Expert:  John T. F. replied 5 years ago.

What's the specific model #?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Crap. Not sure. Its a white macbook. Think its from 2007
Expert:  John T. F. replied 5 years ago.

I assume you unlocked it with the coin release. Normally the battery should raise ever so slightly toward the lock and be lifted out. Sometimes, however, they stick if they haven't been removed in a while. If you are sure it's unlocked then it should free itself with a slight bit of force.

Also, you never said what the liquid was and what area of the Macbook you think it entered?

The damage different types of liquid can cause varies greatly. Water is the least of course, soda or juice is a bit of a problem.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
it was a vitamin water...i know...not the best. he spilled it on the table next to it - so I did have to lift the laptop and wipe. nothing dripping from the sides. Nothing on the inside - nothing on the top. Happened on side opposite to ethernet hookups

Yes - unlocked it - just doesn't have a ton of give. We'll keep playing. Assuming we can get it off - what is the hope. let it dry overnight and retry?
Expert:  John T. F. replied 5 years ago.
Well, it could have been worse. The acid in Orange Juice is horribly corrosive, for example.

I would let it dry for 48 hours, honestly. At that point try again. If it continues to power up but you see the same boot error then we can troubleshoot further.

If you see any liquid anywhere, along or a seam, in a port, etc... try to get it off with a Q-tip or similar.

The most important thing is to keep electricity out of it while it dries.

Let me know how it goes.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thank you. I'll go grab q-tips
Expert:  John T. F. replied 5 years ago.
Good luck!

If you find my advice has helped you and you have no further issues after 48 hours, please click ACCEPT so I am credited for my time this evening.

Otherwise, as I said, if you continue to have issues, just reply straight back to this thread and we'll troubleshoot further.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
absolutely. I hope to be able to have this resolved by the AM. Fingers crossed.
Expert:  John T. F. replied 5 years ago.
If you have a small fan available, you could also try placing the MB in front of it with the fan on low to help dry out any remaining liquids slightly faster.