My Laptop Got Wet… What Do I Do?

It is an unfortunate fact of life that occasionally your laptop might get wet. When it happens, you must be prepared to act, and act quickly.

Should the misfortune of getting your laptop wet occur, you should do the following:

  1. Remove all power from the laptop immediately, including removing the battery.
  2. Dry all visible parts.
  3. Remove all internal and external drives (floppy, CD, hard drive) and accessories, and dry them.
  4. Let the laptop sit and dry for at least 24 hours in an upside-down position. Essentially, make a kind of A-Frame with the laptop.
  5. Analyze the situation.

If the computer has been fully immersed in liquid, it is likely that it will need service.

If the liquid was particularly sticky or sugary, everything will need to be disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled. Send the laptop to an authorized repair center.

If the exposure to the water or liquid was not severe, or the laptop was not fully immersed and you were able to act quickly, you can insert the battery and power the machine on after waiting the specified 24 hours. Note that you have NOT yet inserted any drives. We just want the machine to power up. This will give it a chance to burn off any excess moisture. You will, of course, get errors on the screen since all the drives are out, but that doesn’t matter right now. If the laptop will not power up with battery power, use the AC cord, but be prepared to unplug quickly in the event of smoke or sparks. If the laptop will not power up via the battery or AC cord, then send it all to service immediately.

If it stays running for a while with the battery only, go ahead and plug in the AC cord. Let it run for at least an hour this way. After an hour, power it down and insert the hard drive and other peripherals and power it up again and see if the operating system loads normally. If so, power down, hook up the rest of your peripherals, and try everything out. Modems, network cards, PCMCIA device… all will be susceptible to failure.

Note: If you do not have sufficient or appropriate backups, consider sending your hard drive to a data recovery center before reinserting. Another great option is something like this device. This particular device is designed to be used with another laptop, but there are similar devices for desktops, too. This will allow you to recover the data from your laptop hard drive, should the entire laptop have to be scrapped.

During the dry-out period would be a good time to send in the drive or try and backup/recover your data. Best advice: Don’t get it wet.