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13" Macbook Pro issues, water damage..

edited January 2011 in MacBook Pro
My macbook pro recently went through some water damage that seems to have ruined the battery. When I try to charge it it wont and an X shows up on the battery symbol. I took it to a local genius bar they said it's not the battery (supposedly they tried putting another one in) that it's something else but they didn't specify what only that it was really going to cost me. I was wondering if you had any idea what the issue could be..?


  • Hi Ana! Thanks for the post. My first question would be, where on the computer did the liquid spill occur? Was it near the DC-in (the port the AC adapter plugs into)? Also, when you connect the AC adapter, what color is the light, and is it a steady color (i.e. solid green or amber, and as opposed to no light, a dim light, or a flickering light)?

    The Genius Bar is a great resource, but the problem is they only put in a few minutes of effort, and if it's not something that can be easily solved, or if it's not in Apple's interest to explore further, they simply label it "bad logic board" and give you a scary quote for repair.

    I don't know how open you are to trying to repair it yourself, but if you're up for trying some stuff, go to and look at the repair manuals for your machine. I would pop the underside of the computer off, if you haven't already, and look for corrosion due to the liquid spill. Take note of whether or not the corrosion is near, or on, the DC-in. If the DC-in has corrosion, it may need to be replaced. I would use q-tips or a soft toothbrush dipped in 90% rubbing alcohol and clean off any corrosion you find on the board itself and the DC-in, let it dry, and then see if that makes a difference. It sounds simplistic, but cleaning off corrosion often brings dead boards back to life.

    The battery connector is fairly easy to disconnect once you've got the bottom of the computer off, so you might want to do that and see if there's corrosion on the connectors.

    Anyway, hopefully that gives you a starting point, and let me know how it goes!

  • Well the light is a steady strong green, no flickering, and it's not faded at all. I actually opened it up already, dried it out a bit and cleaned off any of the spillage. The problem is I didn't find out about the spill until way after it happened. Supposedly it only occured on the bottom of the computer, and was quickly removed, I believe this since when I opened it there was only some minor splash marks on the board. My only problem now is that it won't charge.
  • It's hard to could be the board, the battery connector, or the battery itself. The only real way to tell, unfortunately, is to start swapping parts.
  • What does it mean if the green light is flickering? Spilled coffee on my MacBook (aluminum model circa 2008-2009) I took out the battery and cleaned all around it. Haven't taken hard drive out yet because I don't have a screw driver that size. But when I put the battery in the green light on the charger doesn't go on at all and it won't turn on. If I put in my old battery that still has a bit of charge in it (the other battery is dead) the computer sounds like it's trying to turn on but the screen is black. I accidentally plugged it in without any battery and the green light flickers. Please help trying to write my Masters thesis!!!
  • Also, my spill was on the keyboard
  • edited May 2011
    Hi Lucy! First off, make sure the computer has had a chance to completely dry. If there is ANY moisture in your machine and you power it on, most likely you'll permanently fry the logic board, if you haven't already. So I'd let it sit and dry for a day or two, disconnected from AC power and with the battery removed. Substances like coffee are corrosive and will eat away at your board and cause more problems over time, so ideally the machine should also be opened up and the coffee cleaned out with rubbing alcohol and can find a guide to opening the machine at

    The flickering light indicates a power issue, and if it persists after the board is thoroughly cleaned and it will still not power on, I hate to say it, but it's likely either the board has been fried, or the DC-in/sound board (the component to the left of the logic board with all the ports on it) has been fried. The DC-in/sound board is by far the less expensive of the two parts (around $100), so it makes sense to replace this before considering logic board replacement. Again, you can find a guide at which will walk you through replacement. If you need to buy a replacement part, I'd suggest eBay, and specifically a vendor called Laptop Aid (they are on eBay, and at

    Unfortunately Apple is not going to help you with this because liquid damage voids the warranty, and they will generally quote you a repair price that is more than the laptop is worth.

    Good luck!

  • So i have a mid 2010 macbook pro 13 A1278, same liquid damage deal. I've replaced the keyboard and backlight, trackpad, magsafe connector, battery. Board has been cleaned for liquid damage and i can turn it on but the magsafe flickers and battery doesn't charge, fans are loud, keyboard backlight doesn't turn on, screen doesn't dim. its pretty apparent that the smc controller is corrupted or shorting although still shows the firmware version in lion. The soft reset does not work. holding the power with battery disconnected does not work. holding control+option+shift+power does not work either. Any idea if there are power pads to be shorted to reset the smc, can't seem to find this info anywhere? Also do you know what the chip looks like on the board so i can go back and double clean around it, maybe some tiny corrosion i missed the first time?

  • They should be just above the left edge of the keyboard cable connector and just to the bottom-left of a chip, and they are positioned vertically, one above the other. There are other "pads" in the area, but these are the biggest in the area. Unfortunately it looks like they are probably not labeled.

    Hard to say what to do next...does the light flicker when no battery is connected as well? It sounds like you're within the realm of board-level damage, at which point life gets pretty tricky unfortunately.
  • Thanks for the quick reply John. Those are the power button pads though. Im looking for the smc reset pads like the non unibody aluminum macbook pros have that say sys reset. Could be that there arent any on these unibodys and I need to short the leads to the chip itself. This is all a last ditch effort just to see if there is another way to reset smc and get the battery charging or a least rule out the smc chip after its reset and trace from there. I thought at first the smc was damaged but it still reports its firmware so I think it is shorting from corrosion/dried liquid, corrupted or a bad trace is in between it and the battery. I know the logic board needs to be replaced this is just a learning experience, cus I see alot of unibodys with liquid damage that no longer charge the battery. Plus at around $500 for a new board, I will buy non charging ones and I will find the board schematics and let you know how it goes.

  • Sorry, I misunderstood. I agree, I don't think there are SMC resets on unibody machines, at least as far as I've ever been aware. I think your board is damaged beyond my abilities. Never hurts to clean it up again and cross your fingers though -- I use a soft toothbrush, and really scrub them, especially when the problem is unknown, etc.

    Also, AB Cellars is on this site, and he's better with board repair than I am, and he will do certain board repairs for a fee. You might want to run it by him. I believe he answered the question that is previous to yours.
  • @nelsonhouse with the magsafe flickering, there is a power issue there. Resetting the SMC from the pads on the board will buy you nothing unless the keyboard/upper case and/or a USB channel is bad = Apple emulates keyboard functions through USB. I suggest you download and install Coconut Battery and iStat. Both of them are free programs that reference the charging circuit and battery in different manners. If neither is seeing the battery, then your problem is not with the SMC - neither of these programs derive their results using the SMC as a reference.
  • Hey John,

    I've had a macbook pro passed on to me by my dad. He spilled over the keyboard and did all he could to clean and dry it straight away. Anyway, it stopped powering up and charging after a while and now there is only a dim green light when the charger is plugged in. Any advice here?
  • Hi! It's always best to open the machine and clean the board with 90% alcohol and a toothbrush, because most liquids are corrosive and cause more damage over time, even after they dry. If doing this restores the solid light but it still won't power on, the power button electronics may have been damaged and you may need to replace the keyboard (which includes the power button). You can disconnect the keyboard and jump the board using the power-on pads to verify the board is good...many posts on the site explain how to do this.

    Anyway, good luck! Also, for best visibility, post as a new question, otherwise your post will be buried and won't be seen.


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