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Sell your MacBook

MBP Display

edited July 2014 in MacBook Pro
Looks like I may have damaged the display (not a retina, btw) on my mid-2010 MBP 17. While diving in to clean up inside components, I failed to separate the display from the rest of the unit - opting instead to cover the keyboard portion of the top case with a micro-fiber cloth before closing the lid, turning the machine upside down, and going to work.

I removed everything including the kb, cleaned and replaced everything, then turned around and powered on, immediately noticing some cloudy patches on the lower part of the display that I do not recall seeing there before. The patches are visible when the machine is powered off, as well. So thinking I've been supremely careless here.

Additionally, the unit will no longer power on (after doing so initially) by using the power button. It does, however, power on after disconnecting, then reconnecting the battery cable from/to the logic board, then connecting the power supply, without pressing the power button. I have to repeat this procedure again to power back on if I shut down, though.

Feeling very ashamed right now as I am a long-time tech who seems to have forgotten to take some very basic precautions here.

Is there any hope, Obi-Wan?


  • Thanks for the post, and sorry to hear about the laptop!

    As far as the cloudy patches, you don't mention if you used liquid to clean the laptop, but the way you describe it sounds like liquid damage. Sometimes when cleaning a screen the liquid will get in there and bleed into the screen. If that's what happened, there really is no fix, because liquid on a screen is permanent damage. On the bright side, liquid spots are often only visible from an angle, so it might still be pretty usable when viewed straight-on. Since it is a unibody, part of what you're seeing might be residue of the liquid between the screen and the glass screen cover, so it's conceivable the effect could be lessened by removing the glass and wiping away at the residue, but then again replacing the screen glass is not easy or fun and has its own risks, so I would tend to err on the side of not doing that.

    As far as not being able to power on with the power button, I would guess either the ribbon cable to the topcase is not fully seated to the board, or you've gotten liquid on the keyboard and fried the connection between the power button and the board. Unibodies have a design flaw in that the power button does not connect straight to the board -- it goes through the keyboard, so if the keyboard experiences damage, you can no longer power on the machine except to jump it, which you have done. At least your board is still working, which is by far the most valuable part of your laptop. If they keyboard/power button is damaged, you can replace the whole topcase/keyboard, or just replace the power button/keyboard, but that is a much more elaborate procedure.

    It seems like the biggest lesson here is to be careful with the liquid! Never spray/pour liquid directly on the laptop, or allow liquid to trickle down into any cracks -- only dampen a cloth, and then apply the cloth to a laptop. And then of course allow adequate time to dry. And only use 90% rubbing alcohol, because 70% has too much water. Even 90% has 10% water, so if too much gets on the machine and it's powered on before it's dry, it's easily enough to liquid damage a MacBook. Some people think 90% alcohol is some kind of magic liquid and they practically give their laptop a bath in it, but that doesn't end well.

    Anyway, good luck, and hopefully you just need to give the ribbon cable a push further in!


  • Thanks for getting back to me, John.

    There was no liquid (in this case Denatured Alcohol purchased at Home Depot) used on the display at all. All components were removed and wiped down outside of the case. In all cases, I only dampened the corner of a micro-fiber cloth, using my finger on the other side to apply slight pressure to any areas that looked like they could benefit from it.

    I followed the same procedure while wiping down the inside of the top case where the keyboard key holes are. The cloth used was only damp, with only slight pressure used to wipe off any residue there. The display lid was still, as mentioned, connected to the unit, but protected by another micro-fiber cloth placed between the display itself and the entire keyboard area. I'm pretty sure this wasn't caused by any liquid touching the case.

    The only reasons I can think of for these cloudy patches happening under my watch are either a) pressure applied to screws while removing or replacing internal components with the display lid still on (though protected by cloth mentioned above), or b) damaging or improperly replacing a display-related cable inside the top case.

    I say "under my watch" because it's not my machine, and it actually did have a beer spill incident a while back. I volunteered to take a look after the keyboard stopped working, thinking a cleaning could be all it needed. While many letter keys do now work, it seems like outer keys do not. Most noticeable are cmd + space keys. I will try tightening the power button screws a little more, as you suggested.

    I don't recall seeing the cloudy display patches before taking this project on. As you described, they are only visible from an angle, and not when viewing straight-on. Nothing is obscured on-screen. So, if this is the result of liquid damage, I'd feel confident that I was not responsible. Only problem here is that I did not inspect the screen and look for that beforehand.

    Under the circumstances, I don't know whether I should mention to the owner - who may or may not have noticed them before - and suffer the possible ramifications. If I'm at fault, so be it. I'll accept it. But what if I'm not?
  • Hmmm...if the spots are caused by pressure to the glass, it's possible replacing the screen glass would remove them, assuming there is no actual damage to the screen itself. It's hard to tell without seeing it.

    Yeah, it's a frustrating thing, trying to determine who did what. A lot of the time customer perception is that it should be a simple issue, and when reality reveals that the board is bad or that the laptop is otherwise totaled, it can be a difficult situation. That's part of why I don't work on laptops for end-users -- I buy them outright, fix them, and sell them wholesale. That way the interaction with the user is kept to a minimum and there are no lingering obligations. And whether I am able to fix the laptop or not, or decide to put it on the shelf and deal with it in a year, it really doesn't matter to them.

    Thanks, and good luck!

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