Friday, September 7, 2007

#21 Keyboard spill? No problem!

by Jeff Smith

This week I'd like to share with you a little gem of a tip that I have recently verified to work. I was reading about a month ago about what you should do if you spill a glass of wine (or sodapop) on your laptop. And while I hoped I would never have need to use the information, I did file it away in my noggin in case the need ever arose. Be warned, it may sound a little counter-intuitive, but a good friend of mine spilled a coke in hers and I decided it was a good time to put the trick to the test.
Now mind you, she had taken it to the local telephone company, and paid then $65 for them to clean it out for her. They pretty much wiped off the screen with a moist towellette and gave it back. A while later, with some of the keys not working, and with it overheating and shutting down at unexpected moments, she put it in my care.
This is what I did.
Turn it off, remove the battery. Remove any PCMCIA cards you may have in it, and unhook all cords and cables. Turn it over and remove all screws you see, making sure you know where to put them back. Turn it over and open it up. Remove the keyboard, remove anything that comes off easily, being careful not to tear out any wiring. Look for a small flat battery, about the size of a nickle and remove that. Now here's where it gets scary.
You're going to want to wash it under cool water. No soap. Rinse out all the residue from the spill.
Now hold it up and tilt it to drain out excess water. This next part is important, you're going to want to rinse it again with either distilled water or rubbing alcohol. Tap water won't hurt components, but the residues that stay behind after it evaporates will corrode electronics. Distilled water and rubbing alcohol both evaporate cleanly. So rinse out the tap water using one of those. I personally used the alcohol. Now drain it again, and sit it in such a way that it will get plenty of air circulation. And leave it for a few days. Before re-assembly, visually inspect it and look for any moisture. If you see none, re-assemble the machine and replace the battery and everything else and try to boot up. If it acts strangely, immediately shut down and remove the battery again and let it dry some more.
When all is said and done, it should work like it did before.
I hope you never need to use this trick, but its good to know, just in case.
Of course, if your machine is still under warranty, just send it back and let them deal with it. :-D

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