9 Signs Your Laptop Has Water Damage &; what should you do next

Electronics and water don’t mix, and laptops are no exception. Accidental spills, drops in the tub or exposure to rain, water damage can damage your beloved device.

In general, water damage on a laptop is easy to detect, but this is not always the case. Knowing the signs of water damage is key to knowing what to do in hopes of saving your laptop.

9 signs of laptop water damage

There are a few signs you can look for when you suspect water damage to your laptop. Of course, only a technician can determine the extent of the damage, but it doesn’t hurt to know what to look for.

1. Water leaking or dripping from the laptop

If you see water leaking from the ports of your laptop, there is no doubt that there is water damage.

However, the extent of damage depends on the amount of water. If it’s just small patches of moisture, it could be condensation due to humid conditions. If large amounts of water are leaking from the ports, your device has likely come into close contact with a water source.

Either way, start by removing your computer from a liquid source, perhaps a pool or your child in the tub. Move the laptop away from a large body of water and drain as much as possible without burning it.

2. The keyboard stops working or malfunctions

Water damage can be subtle, sometimes showing up as a keyboard malfunction. This phenomenon is especially common in areas with high humidity.

Your laptop sits wet for weeks and weeks and suddenly your keyboard stops responding to commands. As long as your laptop hasn’t been dropped or hit with great force, you should assume it’s water damage.

3. Touchpad no longer works

Water on the touchpad usually causes sticking and reduced responsiveness. Water damage to the motherboard can also cause the touchpad to stop working or operate erratically. While there are other reasons for a faulty touchpad, if your device has come into contact with water, the problem can be solved.

4. Mute or distorted laptop speakers

If your speakers make crackling or muffled sounds, water may have damaged your device. Water can cause corrosion and rust on the internal components of the speakers, resulting in poor sound quality.

Rusting occurs when water stays in the speakers for a long time. In addition, the membrane of the laptop’s speakers is made of paper, which is easily damaged by liquid. This can also contribute to poor sound quality.

5. Unexplained network connectivity issues

A man using a silver laptop with a Wi-Fi symbol on it

If your device is experiencing network problems or starts receiving network connection error messages, it is possible that water has entered the network card and completely damaged the equipment.

Water can also damage the Wi-Fi module, a small chip on the motherboard responsible for your computer’s wireless network connections. Depending on the brand of your computer, the module is usually located on the side of the motherboard and next to the hinge of the laptop.

This position makes it vulnerable to water damage, as this part of the laptop usually takes the brunt of coffee stains.

6. Random restart or shutdown

When water gets into your laptop, it can create new circuits (shortcuts) on the circuit board, causing your laptop to restart or shut down suddenly and randomly. This happens because the battery is in contact with water.

Short circuits can damage power rails, causing uncontrolled restarts and shutdowns.

7. Blurry or distorted screen

A blurry or distorted screen on your laptop can be a sign of several problems, one of which is liquid damage. Water can damage a laptop’s screen and graphics cards, causing the display unit to malfunction.

8. The blue screen of death


Man about to drop his laptop with blue windows error screen background.
Image credit: Xalanx/Depositphotos

A Blue Screen of Death, commonly known as a BSOD, is a sign of a serious problem with your laptop’s operating system. A BSOD may mean that your laptop needs long-term repair or replacement.

Water damage to the hard drive or processor can cause corrosion and short circuits. It can also make the operating system unstable and cause BSOD.

9. Your laptop won’t turn on even with the charger.

If you suspect water damage, plugging your laptop into a power source is a big mistake. The laptop probably won’t start.

After being spilled or submerged, your laptop’s circuit board most likely has shorts, and recharging it immediately after water damage will only make things worse.

What to do when the laptop gets wet?

Getting water on your laptop isn’t necessarily a death sentence, but permanent damage is a possibility if proper steps are not taken. If you suspect water has entered your device, follow the steps below to minimize potential damage.

Network first, then ask questions

Unplugging your laptop is the first step in preventing your device from going to a watery grave. Water damages electrical components immediately and the damage is often irreversible.

If the laptop stays on after spilling, turn it off immediately. Then disconnect it from the power source. If the laptop turns off by itself, try to turn it on again only after making sure that the water has dried.

If possible, remove the battery


DIY battery replacement
Image credit: bublikhaus/freepik

Another action to take is to remove the battery. The battery is the power source of your laptop, so it needs to be protected immediately. Other removable parts should follow, including the hard drive and RAM. Ground yourself before touching laptop components, as static electricity can destroy the circuit.

Unfortunately, some laptop models allow you to remove the battery only by unscrewing it. For most models, simply turn the computer over and open the bottom panel where the battery is located. But for MacBook and some other laptops, you need to find a screwdriver.

Wipe and dry

After completing the previous steps, you can deep clean your device. First, wipe the exterior with a dry cloth, including the keyboard and screen. Wipe and dry thoroughly to eliminate risk of electric shock. Also, clean and dry thoroughly, as wet external components will short out internal components.

After doing the above, allow your laptop to dry for at least 24 hours, but as long as you can afford to give your laptop the best chance to restart. It is best placed upside down with the screen open. You can also place it under a fan to speed up drying.

Alcohol (Isopropyl)

Alcohol is the best choice if you don’t want to spoil it at the repair shop. Isopropyl alcohol with a concentration of more than 90% is very useful. Also, after drying, you can use a toothbrush to remove the components. This helps remove excess water and can help prevent and prevent corrosion.

Wipe carefully with a brush so as not to break the small board components.

2 water damage repair myths to avoid

Trying to work with your laptop after water damage can be disastrous given the number of ways it can go wrong. The Internet is also full of different ways to solve this problem. Below are two popular considerations to keep in mind if you have a water damaged laptop.

1. Dry your wet laptop with a hair dryer

The heat of the hair dryer may seem like a good idea because the 24 hour wait time seems too long. But the intense heat is strong enough to damage the components of the laptop.

hand holding hair dryer

Blasting your laptop with a hair dryer will do more harm than good. Go the longer route and let your laptop dry on its own or under a fan.

2. Rice will not repair a water damaged laptop

Do not put your laptop in rice. The brass myth is very common and many have reported success with this method. But putting your device in rice is useless. On the contrary, it can worsen the condition of your laptop.

The brass is small enough to fit into the ports of your laptop and stay there for a long time. And it’s harder to get rid of rice than water.

Avoid a watery grave

Most of the time, when the water damage isn’t serious, the drying works right away and your laptop is back in perfect working order. Otherwise, repair should be expected.

Because water can destroy electrical components, repair after water damage usually involves replacing equipment. However, some warranties cover water damage. However, you should contact your laptop manufacturer.

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