To Lazarus a drowned laptop, leave it in a hot car

(A long story follows. Or, jump to the summary.)

MacBook Pro, on and working

Thought this laptop was dead, but now it’s alive. A hot car helped (talking about temperature, not whether it’s stolen or how expensive it is).

About 10 weeks ago, my wife accidentally spilled an entire large glass of iced tea (unsweetened, thank goodness) onto and into her 1 year-old MacBook Pro. Sad day.

I followed instructions online. After disconnecting the power cord, I removed the bottom plate and made sure all the liquid was out, with a hair dryer blowing in to make sure. Unfortunately, the battery couldn’t be removed, but I sealed the laptop, bottom still off, in an airtight container filled halfway with uncooked rice to absorb whatever moisture remained.

I left it three full days. Took it out, put the bottom on, plugged it in, pressed the power button, nothing. At. All. Repeat the process. After another three days, more nothing.

Every few months for more than half a year I’d check it again, just to see. But nothing. I assumed the laptop was irretrievably fried, and what I’d read made me think replacing the damaged components would cost close to or more than the cost of a new MacBook Pro. So in my mind, I’d written that machine off.

Suddenly, Texas heat

Another laptop, an older white MacBook, was having a minor problem. When my wife was taking it to the shop, just for grins she tossed in the presumed corpse of her MBP. Turned out the old laptop just needed a battery, all good. But because attaching the power supply to the MBP wouldn’t even turn orange (to indicate charging), she was told even a diagnosis of it would be $100. Nah. But in the process, both computers were left in the car while she did errands throughout the day, in July, in Texas.

Then, resurrection

She put both laptops on the dining room table that evening, and the MBP stayed there for a few days. Later, expecting nothing, I opened it and pressed the power button. Of course nothing then. Then I connected the power and pressed the button again. This time BINGO.

As my grandmother would say, oh happy day!

For the first few days, the laptop worked perfectly but the battery was dead, so we kept it plugged in. We ordered a new battery, but before it arrived the original battery started working. As of today, the laptop and battery have been working as new for almost a month.

Thanks honey!

It was my wife who put together that what seemed to make the difference was leaving it in the hot car. Years ago, the same thing happened with a cell phone that went swimming in a porcelain plumbing receptacle. Didn’t work, battery out, bag of rice, a few days, nothing.  But I’d left it in my car for awhile, can’t remember why, and a week after buying a new phone I was surprised to find that the old one would now turn on and worked fine. It was a hot car that time, I should’ve tried that to begin with this time. Live and learn, or if you’re me, live, learn, forget, agonize, learn again. (Maybe you’re able to learn the first time. Tell me what it’s like; I’ll be envious.)

Summary: what we did that worked

  1. Unplug the doused MacBook Pro. If possible, remove the battery, though with some models not so easy or even possible/practical (like ours; we didn’t do it).
  2. Take off the bottom plate with a tiny tiny screwdriver and keep track of the screws by pressing them onto the sticky side of a piece of duct tape, in order.
  3. Seal the thing, bottom plate still off, in an airtight container half filled with uncooked rice. Make sure the rice isn’t going to get into the open-bottomed laptop.
  4. Wait three days.
  5. Reassemble the thing and see if it powers up. Try first without the power cord and if that doesn’t work, try plugged in.
  6. If that doesn’t work, spend months in a state of anguish and sadness. (Or, skip this step.)
  7. Put the assembled laptop in your car. Maybe in the trunk would be okay, or at least hidden with the doors locked. If your days aren’t in the upper 90s or higher, maybe come to Texas for a visit. Leave it in there for at least a day (not night though). Don’t park in the shade.
  8. Now try plugging it in and powering up.
This worked for us! If your laptop gets bathed, we’re wishing you the same results. :-)

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