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Repair a Fire/Water damaged Mac Pro

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January 1, 2010 12:18:25 AM

I have received this fairly new Mac Pro that was in a house fire. The computer was not powered during the fire and has yet to have power put back on it. (The motherboard battery was obviously still in place.) There appears to be no heat damage to any components except for a couple of potentiometers inside the power supply. These had a little melt to the tops of them but that is it. The potentiometers are facing out the back of the case with only a 'mesh' type panel so they would have had no protection from any heat, so this tells me that the most exposed component only had a little melt and that component was the cheap plastic that I would think melts very easily. I've removed all the remaining components from the case and have found that the cables and connectors all pulled out very well so I would think that besides the capacitors, the most heat sensitive components are fine. (I'm absolutely not sure about any of the component's heat protection, this is just wishful thinking I guess.) One more thing, prior to smoke engulfing the room this computer was in, the owner tried to remove the hard drives and thus left the computer exposed to the water, smoke, and debris that followed. My question is: how can I clean this computer and get it running again? After removing the power supply, I put power on it and measured 3.3V and 5V on only 1 of its four cables. From what I understand, the motherboard switches on the remaining power. Is this typical? Am I right in thinking this? After searching the internet I've found all sorts of 'cleaning' techniques, although none seem to be 'strong' enough. I've tried alcohol, and 409 cleaner but they do absolutely nothing. Testing on the smaller front panel auxiliary pcb, I tried some liquid plumber and it worked perfect, it absolutely cut through everything and the board looks good as new. I just poured it on, brushed it, used a q-tip, and finally rinsed it off. Should I try this with the motherboard? Liquid plumber is obviously corrosive, but it also says that it is safe on plastic and copper, among other things. It also has a corrosion inhibitor. I'm not sure what this auxiliary board will look like tomorrow, next week or next year, so what should I do? Thanks.

a b V Motherboard
January 1, 2010 1:09:40 AM

That looks like trash.... your motherboard is toast
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January 1, 2010 6:35:19 PM

Here is a picture of the front auxiliary board after I cleaned if up with Liquid Plumber. The before picture of this board looked just like the motherboard in the above picture. Is there anything I should do that will ensure this thing doesn't corrode away in the next few days/months?

AFTER:



BEFORE:




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January 1, 2010 6:40:20 PM

This computer wasn't cheap, so if I can spend $20-$30 dollars on cleaning supplies and a little of my time I'm not out too much. Any suggestions on this is greatly appreciated. I plan on proceeding to clean the motherboard with the Liquid Plumber but hope someone can suggest something I should do (if anything) about ensuring this thing has a chance to start up and stay running. Thanks.
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January 1, 2010 7:14:06 PM

Is it just that it is covered in ash? I would not clean the motherboard with liquid plumber if I was you though.
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January 1, 2010 7:16:14 PM

Yes, and I had to shop vac a good bit of dirt, sand and rocks (mortar from the walls). I haven't found and visible evidence of any damaged components.
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January 1, 2010 7:19:39 PM

The liquid plumber is the only thing that would do anything to remove the 'ash' though. And it does a great job. Why can't I use Liquid Plumber? What chemical should I be worried about, and on what component? Surely I shouldn't leave it as-is and try putting power on it.
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January 1, 2010 10:16:33 PM

I don't know how corrosive liquid plumber is, but I would personally avoid it for that reason. Defiantly don't use it on the slots or near the CPUs, connectors or chips. The power supply seems dead though. Good Luck!
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January 12, 2010 1:35:55 PM

Current state of the motherboard.
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