MacBook Water Damage How: Examples from 15 Years of Repair

MacBook Pro damaged by water

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Intro to MacBook Water Damage: Understanding with Real-Life Scenarios

Understanding the impact of water damage on your MacBook requires learning from real-life scenarios. MacBooks have become essential tools in our daily lives, serving various purposes. However, they are not invulnerable, and water damage is a common issue users face.

Accidents happen, such as spilled liquids or accidental submersion, which can wreak havoc on these delicate devices. To truly comprehend the implications of water damage, real-life scenarios can be insightful, providing valuable lessons. They also highlight the importance of quick and appropriate action.

For example, imagine enjoying your morning coffee while catching up on emails when suddenly, you accidentally spill liquid over your MacBook’s keyboard. Panic sets in as you try to dry it off, but the damage may already be done. Another scenario involves a spilled water bottle inside a computer bag, soaking the MacBook along with other belongings such as the MagSafe adapter and power bank.

The extent of damage may not be immediately evident, but the consequences can be severe if left unattended. Acting swiftly and appropriately when faced with water damage can significantly increase the chances of recovery and save you from costly repairs or data loss.

This comprehensive guide will delve into various real-life MacBook water damage cases and analyze the outcomes based on the actions taken. Understanding these scenarios will equip you with the knowledge to tackle similar circumstances in the future.

Time is of the essence when it comes to water damage, whether it’s a small spill or a complete submersion. Knowing how to react can make all the difference in the fate of your MacBook. Let’s embark on this journey of understanding and learning from real-life experiences to safeguard our devices and data effectively.

Case one: Still Able to Power On and Function Normally

We have observed cases of accidents involving spilled coffee, juice and water on client MacBooks. Initially, the clients become very worried and attempt various methods to dry the MacBook, such as wiping it with tissues, using a special cloth, turning it upside down and even placing the MacBook in a container filled with uncooked rice.

Sometimes, fortunately, after trying one of these methods, the MacBook can be turned on and function normally, leading the client to believe the problem is resolved. However, it is essential to note that when water enters the MacBook internally, it wets and damages parts that won’t dry by themselves or through external methods. The hardware inside MacBooks is very compact thus even using a hairdryer won’t effectively remove the liquid.

The reason the MacBook can still turn on and function properly initially is that the spilled liquid might not have damaged critical and important components at that moment.

However, as time passes, algae may grow and corrosion could develop on internal parts. This can lead to short circuits, resulting in more severe repair fees. In some cases, the damage may be irreversible, especially if there’s a hole on the logic board.

A hole on the logic board or Printed Circuit Board (PCB) can occur when a capacitor or chipset corrodes so severely that it creates a hole.

Example of Algae Growing After MacBook Water Damage

Example of algae growing on logic board

Pro Tip 1

Algae growth on a logic board does not resolve on its own, it requires a suitable environment to thrive since it is a living organism. If the moisture issue remains unresolved, the algae will continue to grow and can lead to further damage to the electronic components on the logic board. Consequently, this may result in device malfunction or even permanent damage.

More About Why Algae Is Harmful


Algae, similar to other biological matter, contains water and minerals, making it conductive. When algae grow on a logic board, they can create unintended electrical pathways between components, resulting in short circuits. These short circuits can cause the device to malfunction, overheat or potentially lead to permanent damage.


As algae grow and spread on the logic board, they release chemicals and enzymes that can corrode the metal components on the board. This corrosion weakens the connections and may lead to the deterioration of solder joints, traces and other crucial parts of the circuitry.


Algae growth causes conductivity issues, but it can also create insulating barriers. It forms a protective layer over certain components, trapping moisture beneath them and hindering heat dissipation. As a result, this trapped moisture can lead to further corrosion and even contribute to overheating problems.

Residue and Debris

As algae grow and die, they leave residues and debris on the logic board. These residues may contain harmful substances and particulates that interfere with the normal functioning of chipsets, microprocessors, memory chips and resistors.

Case Two: Unable to Power On After Water Damage But Later Can

We are not exactly sure how this can happen, but we can confirm that major components like the processor, RAM and hard drive are currently functional. These critical components are necessary for the Mac to start and operate.

However, the crucial question is whether everything is functioning 100% normally. Are all the temperatures at optimal levels? And how long will this situation last? Is it certain that the Mac will be able to turn on tomorrow?

We have encountered situations like this before, where clients reported that after a while, their Macs couldn’t turn on again or experienced issues like constant overheating with loud fans, extreme slowness or occasional burning smells.

This might indicate a more serious underlying problem, possibly leading to damage to the logic board. Therefore, we highly recommend that you take your MacBook to a repair specialist for proper checking, cleaning and drying as soon as possible.

Pro Tip 2

Here, we provide some do’s and don’ts if your MacBook accidentally comes into contact with any kind of water. For further information, click here.

Pro Tip 3

Please note that if you send your Mac to an Authorized Service Center, the most likely solution they will provide is parts replacement. This could include replacing the logic board, screen and bottom case (which includes the battery, keyboard, trackpad, speaker, and bottom frame). They do not perform cleaning and drying while their approach is focused on parts replacement rather than individual parts assessment or repair.

To better illustrate this, I often use the following example with my clients: Imagine your car is experiencing issues with the engine or gearbox. Would you prefer the mechanic to inspect its condition and assess whether it’s viable to repair or would you rather have them straight replace it with a new one?

Case Three: Sudden Shut Down after Water Damage

A MacBook may suddenly shut down after water damage, likely caused by a short circuit resulting from the water. This water-induced malfunction in the electrical components can lead to unexpected shutdowns. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid turning on a water-damaged MacBook without proper inspection and treatment, as this could worsen the damage and decrease the likelihood of successful repair.

Warning 1: Force Mac to start

In some cases, users attempt to force start their Mac when they haven’t backed up their data. As we mentioned earlier, forcing a water-damaged Mac to start up can lead to additional damage. Therefore, it’s essential for everyone to back up their data regularly, whether they have a new Mac or an old one that has been working well for years.

If you haven’t backed up your Mac computer or iPhone and are considering using iCloud for backup, read here for more information.

MacBook Water Damage Accident: Immediate Steps for Maximum Recovery

Immediately disconnect the charger from the power source and remove all physically connected USB connectors. Next, promptly attempt to shut down the MacBook. If the keyboard and trackpad are not responding, press and hold the power button for 5 to 10 seconds to force a shutdown. Flip your MacBook upside down to allow any water to drip out thus preventing additional damage to the device. Lastly, search for a reputable Mac repair specialist and engage their services to assess the severity of the water damage.

MacBook water damage, let water drip back out.

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Warning 2: Avoid using these things and methods on your water-damaged MacBook.

Uncooked rice and hair dryer use to dry water damaged MacBook

Uncooked Rice

Uncooked rice possesses the capability to absorb water as a natural desiccant, extracting moisture from its surroundings. However, it proves ineffective in eliminating water from a water-damaged device’s internal components, such as circuits and connections buried deep inside the device. Moreover, using rice can be risky, as rice particles may drop into the ports of your MacBook, potentially causing additional damage. Hence, relying solely on rice for drying a water-damaged MacBook is not recommended.

Hair Dryer

It’s crucial to avoid using a hairdryer as a quick fix for a water-damaged MacBook, as it can cause even more harm. The heat from the hairdryer may damage the internal components, including melting plastic parts like the keyboard keycaps. Additionally, the forced airflow can push the water deeper into the MacBook’s interior, potentially reaching critical circuits on the logic board and connections between parts. This could result in more severe damage due to short circuits and significantly reduce the likelihood of successful repair.

Case Four: Delaying Water-Damaged MacBook Repair and Keep It for Later

We understand that clients may face budget constraints, travel or other reasons for not using their water-damaged MacBook for extended periods, leading to the mindset of repairing it later when needed.

However, it is essential to be aware that if a water-damaged MacBook is left unattended, without cleaning and repair, algae growth and corrosion can become so severe that holes may develop on the logic board. Once holes form, the chances of successfully repairing the logic board decrease significantly. Therefore, it’s crucial to address water damage promptly and avoid prolonged inactivity to prevent irreparable damage to the MacBook.

Pro Tip 4

If, for any reason, you are not using your MacBook for more than two weeks, it’s crucial to treat it similarly to your car. Just like your car needs to be started up occasionally even if it’s not driven for weeks, months or years to prevent battery depletion and rust issues, your MacBook requires some attention too.

Therefore, if you won’t be using your MacBook for more than two weeks, have someone start it up once every two weeks. Let them play some videos online to drain the battery and then charge it back up. This practice helps maintain the health of your MacBook during periods of inactivity.

Contact us

As dedicated Mac users for over 15 years, we understand the frustration and helplessness that arise when your beloved Mac computer unexpectedly breaks down. But fear not! At YP Mac, we wholeheartedly focus on addressing and resolving precisely those distressing situations!

We offer hassle-free Mac repairs, as highlighted by our tagline: “Simplify Mac repairs with us.” Our commitment lies in providing convenient solutions for all your Mac-related needs.

Our skilled technicians streamline the repair process, ensuring quick and efficient service. Trust us for a seamless experience and join our satisfied customers today.

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