Water on laptop =(

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Thursday I spilled a little bit of water - 1/8 of a poland spring
small bottle - on the upper left hand side of my Dell Inspiron 5150
laptop. I did try to turn it on after turning it off, but then let it
sit for 3 days.

It seems to boot fine, it beeps a couple of times but I believe that
is because I killed the battery - however my keyboard is shot so I
can not type in my password. Should I take it as a good sign it loads
up to the password Windows XP screen?

I ran a diagnostics, and it also said the IDE Media drive was blank.
Does anyone know what that means/how much it would cost to fix? Also
that it had no communication from the battery, but I assumed as

Unfortunately I am off warranty (though Dell would not cover this) but
I have purchased a new keyboard. Of course the screws are stripped
from a friend trying - unasked! - to remove the keyboard, but I
believe a computer repair shop should be able to fix that.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Should I be okay with the actual
laptop? Thanks so much !

Re: Water on laptop =(

You don't need to be reminded never to have liquids within spilling range of
a computer now :-(   A lot of us have done it at some time or other, me
included many years ago when I was a little too enthusiastic with some foam
cleanser and didn't know any better.  It can be expensive.  You might have
got away with it in the main though if you're lucky.

As your laptop is showing signs of life, I would say it is probably OK in
terms of the board and CPU and general operation.  In my experience, water
or liquid gets trapped inside the various key mechanisms and switches and
takes a long time to dry out if at all without some kind of intervention.
That is what I think your immediate problem is - it's still waterlogged.

Depending on your own feeling and level of technical skill, it might be
better to leave it to a repair shop.

If it were me, and taking on board that I've done a few of these repairs,
personally, I would dismantle the laptop carefully if this 'friend' has left
you any means of doing so and also if you feel confident about doing so.
It's usually a fairly fiddly activity and quite different from dismantling a
desktop in many ways as there are often a number of hidden screws and little
plastic 'snap-on' clips that hold the case together.  I haven't dismantled a
Dell, but have done a few Toshiba's, a coupleof Acers and a few ThinkPads
and they're all similar in principle in the way they fit together.  It
sometimes takes a little bit of logical thought and intuition to work out
how to remove certain parts.

I would hazard a guess that the IDE media drive is either your CD-DVD or
possibly a card reader of some sort.

Often to remove the keyboard, the top and bottom of the case has to be split
by removing quite a few screws from the underside and sometimes these can be
covered by labels, the battery, hard drive or CD/DVD drive, so these should
be removed in general before commencing the strip down.  Always use the
right size and shape screwdriver for the head of the screw or as you've
found, the head of the screw can become rounded off leaving you with no
means of turning it (at this point, apply appropriate punishment to friend
who has cost you more than necessary unless you can find a way of gently
removing damaged screw(s) yourself).  I use a plastic guitar plectrum
inserted around the split line of the case to carefully locate and gently
prise any clips apart.  This is less likely to cause unsightly damage to the
case - and I never force anything!

You may also need to remove any plastic bezel that might be adjacent to the
keyboard.  Again using a plectrum inserted appropriately it is usually
possible to gently lever the bezel upwards in the centre thereby releasing
the captive clip at either end.  Again, don't force it.  Alternatively, look
for blanking plugs that might be hiding a screw head.  tThese can usually be
levered out carefully using something like a pin, which if used correctly
won't leave an unsightly mark.

The keyboard, once exposed, will probably be retained by several small
screws, which, when removed should allow you to carefully flip it upwards.
There will probably be one or more small ribbon cables (possibly a flexible
orange coloured band of plastic with copper tracks embedded in it) which are
retained in a captive connector.  Inserting a finger nail in the split line
of one of these connectors across the point where the ribbon enters, should
release the ribbon cable thereby allowing you to remove the keyboard for
inspection.  Don't pull it. The cable will come out quite easily when this
is done properly.   Once you've got the keyboard out, you need to look for
evidence of moisture, but it is entirely possible that the problem is inside
the key mechanism of one or more keys, or inside a section of the keyboard
which affects certain characters.  With great care you may need to remove
the key tops of the keyboard - or at least some of them, and depending on
the construction of the keyboard you might find tiny springs underneath each
key top which can surprise you and then you've lost them.   Remember or
write down your keyboard layout. You may find a rubber membrane with raised
parts on which each key top presses down.  Underneath each key point on the
underside of the membrane, you may find a carbonised pad which makes a
circuit when pressed against a printed circuit normally underneath the
rubberised membrane.  Water may still be under the membrane.  Remove
carefully with a tissue before reassembly  Alternatively, your keyboard may
have a small microswitch under each key in which case it is a bit more
difficult to expel moisture.   Careful use of a hairdryer (these can promote
static electricity) may help out here.   I have had success with both types
of keyboard with the former being much easier to fix.  The last resort with
the second (microswitch) keyboard type would be to try switch cleaner in
very smll amounts on each affected switch.  This will seep into the switch
with a bit of manual exercising of the switch and drive any moisture out -
eventually!   Take extreme care if using any switch cleaner/lubricant as it
is prone to attacking rubber and plastic parts and wipe any excess off with
a tissue immediately.  Even after cleaning/drying out, you may find your
keyboard is not as responsive as it once was.

In terms of your battery, I think it unlikely you've killed it, but I might
be wrong.  Once again it is more likely to be residual moisture.  Removing
the battery from its compartment and letting both dry fully may restore it
to normal use.  In the meantime I would recommend you don't use it.  If
after a while things haven't improved, you may find that you can use a
standard keyboard by connecting it via a USB to PS/2 adapter - if of course
Windows detects the adapter/keyboard properly without being logged in.



Re: Water on laptop =(

Wow!!! Great answer!!!


Re: Water on laptop =(

On Tue, 07 Feb 2006 04:31:26 GMT, kjbarry86 wrote:

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Here is the service manual for it;

Essential reading before you begin.


Re: Water on laptop =(

I got a new keyboard and everything seems to be working fine !

I had run a
diagnostics test and it said my IDE Media drive was blank,
but I ran a cd and
dvd and it seems to be fine.

Their was a beeping when I turned it on, but it
had to be the battery
because if I take the battery out and have it just on AV
power it's

Their is one weird thing with the [[[[[[[[[[[ key, mainly it
will do a
bunch of those. But other than that everything is perfect. I can take
the bracket key being screwed up if it means not needing to buy a new
laptop !


Re: Water on laptop =(

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Glad you've managed to get back to nearly normal :-)  It sounds as if your
new keyboard is possibly faulty though.  The bracket key should not be any
more sensitive than the others.  It sounds as if it's sticking a little bit.
It *might* be related to how it's been mounted.  Just check that there's
nothing applying any pressure underneath the keyboard like a wire that
should be routed slightly differently.  Any slight distortion that the
keyboard is possibly encountering could explain this behaviour.

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