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Another wet laptop

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  • Laptops
Last response: in Laptop Tech Support
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February 10, 2012 5:41:06 PM

Well, the title is pretty self-explanatory, especially since I've seen quite a few Tom's Hardware results come up while I've been searching for answers, but none that I've been able to find are QUITE the same situation...so here's my wall of text.

I have a bad habit of drinking near my computer. I also have a bad habit of not always removing my beverage containers from the area when I'm done...normally, it's something REALLY scary like DP or Rockstar...fortunately, it was just a glass of water in this case.

You see, one of my oh-so-wonderful feline overlords also has a bad habit. He likes to snooze on my open laptop when I'm not looking. Normally, this little nuisance just results in me having to pick some white hairs out of the keyboard. Since I haven't even removed the plastic protection sheet that covers the area between the keys (this was a Christmas gift, so it's fairly new,) even that isn't that bad, but, when you put MY bad habit, and his bad habit together...you get THIS circumstance.

So, Thurs morning, I get up, and knowing I don't have class until 10:00, I head to my office, to check on some assignments. It was pretty early, and I was pretty bleary headed. My laptop was in sleep mode, but I honestly can't remember if it does this regularly, or if it perhaps did it as a safety shut down.

Anyway, I was groggy enough that I didn't even notice the spilled water glass, and hit the power key. I use my laptop for a bit, and then, I notice that my text editing goes wonky...like, selecting blocks that I don't want it to, etc. Now, I don't use any of the onboard input devices when I'm at home...I plug in a USB mouse and keyboard...so when I saw this, I noticed there were some drops of water on the touchpad...which I know from my phone, and my Nook e-reader, can cause absolute hell for these touch devices. So, I clean it off, and THAT'S when I come to enough to notice the spilled water. I check my keyboard, worried some got down into it, cleaned up any I saw, and kept going.

THEN, I hear my HD chugging a bit. I THEN FINALLY notice that there's water all around the base of my laptop. I quickly set it to shut down, and get a BSOD.

I take out the battery, and open up the memory/HD compartment, and start drying everything off. Please note...I don't remember what exactly got wet in there, but it wasn't sopping wet...it didn't look like any even got to the bottom side of the motherboard.

So, there's the crisis. It is no longer recognizing the hard drive. I've done all the diagnosing I can at this point...including creating a bootable Ubuntu flash drive, and booting it off of that.

Now, here's my question(s.)

My assumption is that it's a problem related to the HD, since I CAN boot up from the flash drive, and run Ubuntu just fine (or as fine as I can from a flash drive...I can't seem to save anything, but I can connect to the internet, and surf, etc.) To me, this says that it's not a motherboard issue...but I'm far from an expert, and could be WAY off base there.

Secondly...if it IS the HD, and not the mobo, what are the chances that it's just the SATA cable, and not the whole drive? I'm suspecting (really just hoping, with some minor evidence) that this is the case because I tried the "freeze the ever loving crap out of the HD to contract the metal and allow the plates to spin again" method, and got NOTHING. Not recognized in BIOS at all.

Finally, I'm also having keyboard issues. Only certain keys seem to be affected though, combos are as follows; t5, y6, backspaceF11. However, as I was using it in class today (running it off the Ubuntu flash drive,) some combinations seemed to get worse, like rt5, instead of just t5.

Now, I need to note that back when I first dried it, I took a hair dryer to the keyboard...and accidentally warped some keys with the heat. I figured I'd just replace them, but is what I described above indicative of needing a whole new keyboard, or is that possibly mobo related?

Just in case they're needed, here's all the specifics about the laptop that I can remember.
Samsung RV511 (has an Australian model number, as this was a gift from a buddy of mine in Australia, but I'm in the US. The US has a comparable model...I honestly think the only difference IS the model number, but it means Samsung US won't help me at all.)
500GB HD (pretty sure it's a Toshiba)
8 GB RAM.

Not sure if anything else is needed, but if it is, please just let me know, and I'll be happy to answer.

Thanks in advance for the assistance. I know I wrote a ton, but I wanted to make sure to be complete.

More about : wet laptop

February 10, 2012 6:07:47 PM

Sounds like you've still got some residual liquid in there. I'd recommend disassembling the laptop as much as you can, laying all the parts out on a table (away from your cat) and leaving them to dry overnight. With the case sealed up, any liquid in there is not going to evaporate.

Second, it sounds a lot like your hard drive is dead. A cable is an extremely simple thing, nothing more than wires wrapped in insulation. You're not going to have water doing lasting damage to them. No moving parts, no circuits, no sensitive bits. You could probably soak them in water for a month, dry them out and have them be just fine, so long as the contacts didn't rust.

Freezing a drive is also not likely to do anything productive, especially for a disk that has water damage. The whole idea behind freezing drives to fix them is flawed, and there is no real evidence to suggest that doing so is beneficial. The idea is that the temperature drop causes metal to contract, unbinding bearings and/or making connections tighter. The problem is that any contraction is reversed almost instantaneously when the drive is connected again.

In fact, freezing a drive can cause serious damage because the air inside will condense, and that condensation will freeze. Hard drives don't like ice. With a drive that's been exposed to water, it's even more likely to have ice forming inside it. Putting your drive in the freezer probably did little to no good, and virtually guaranteed that the drive will never function again and all your data is unrecoverable.
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February 10, 2012 8:29:05 PM

What did you use to dry things? Best thing to do was to leave the whole thing alone for a few days sitting there.

If you used anything with heat, you probably caused as much damage as the water, especially since it looks like the laptop was actually working for a while.

Replace the hard-drive and the keyboard, sounds like everything else is working.
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