One tool you should NEVER use on your laptop

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Unfortunately, it’s an accident that happens way more often than it should – a liquid gets spilled on a laptop. Water, soda, wine, beer, lemonade, whatever – obviously none of these things are a good thing for a computer. But then, in some cases, the owner of the laptop makes things worse by trying to “dry out” the laptop with a hair dryer.

melted keys

 

Makes sense, right? A hair dryer (blow dryer) is designed specifically to blow air and dry things out, so logically it would seem like it’s a good choice to quickly dry out your laptop after a spill.

blow dryer

 

Blow dryers work fine on hair, which is what they are designed for. But your hair isn’t made of plastic like your laptop keyboard is. Plastic has a lower melting point, and unfortunately some people are surprised at how quickly that can happen.

To demonstrate this, I picked out an old, non-working laptop from my collection (every tech has a few of these around). And I used a standard blow dryer, like you’d buy from your local Walmart. You probably have one in your bathroom right now.

Here’s a picture of the lower left section of the keyboard before our experiment:

normal keyboard

 

Just a regular keyboard on an old computer.

Now, here’s the same laptop keyboard after 60 seconds of blow-drying:

melted keys

 

It’s pretty surprising how quickly it can happen. Laptop keyboards are just not designed to handle hot air coming at them. And that’s after just one minute. Think about how long it would take to actually dry out the entire keyboard (IF the liquid was contained to just the keyboard and didn’t seep further down, on to the motherboard and other components).

I was going to show you some other pictures of keyboards that were inadvertently destroyed by blow dryers, but I cannot post them here on my site due to copyright concerns. But if you want to see the damage that can be done by hot air, do a Google Image search on “hair dryer keyboard damage”.

So if you do accidentally spill something on your laptop, don’t run for the blow dryers. Instead:

  1. Immediately turn it off
  2. Flip it over and remove the battery
  3. Disconnect anything that’s plugged in to it – power cable, portable drive, flash drive, printer cable – pull everything out of all the USB ports and other slots
  4. If you see any water that can be wiped off with a cloth, wipe it off
  5. Flip the laptop upside down (so the keyboard is facing down) and let it dry for 48 hours.

Yes, that means you won’t be able to use it for 2 days. Do not try to shortcut this and boot it up sooner just to see if it works!

After 48 hours and the liquid has dried, put the battery back in and reconnect the power cord and see if it turns on. If it boots up, you’re probably okay. If it doesn’t, contact your local computer tech.

And you might also check to see if you happened to have purchased an extended warranty when you bought the laptop. If you have coverage that includes accidental spills, it might be time to make a claim on that plan. Personally, I never buy those accident policies. My insurance plan is just not drinking near my laptop.

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Lorraine
May 17th, 2018

well duh…if a person isn’t smart enough to know to use the cold shot on the hairdryer, maybe they shouldn’t have a computer/tablet!! lol An IT tech told me to do that…on cold of course. And not right close to it. I mean, it’s really common sense. Doh!! I forgot…common sense is as common as we like to believe!!