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I spilled some water into a PC (it got through the fan vents) and it powered down immediately. I just got a few splashes on the motherboard and graphics card. Is it fried?

Also:
The RAM did not get wet; will this still be OK?
Can I safely test it by turning it back on once it's totally dry?

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Whatever you do, DON'T PUT A HAIR DRYER NEAR IT –  Simon Sheehan Sep 27 '11 at 2:06
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It will be dry if put in an air conditioned room for 3 says with the case open, with a small fan pointed at the open case. –  Moab Sep 27 '11 at 2:21
    
Unplug it first, obviously. Then open it up and mop up any visible water. Make note of what areas the water appeared to touch. Don't immediately open the power supply! There can be dangerous high voltage in the PS for at least 15 minutes after you power off & unplug, and it's best to wait at least an hour. Let everything dry in a warm, dry environment for at least 24 hours, preferably 72. Then you can attempt to power up. (The rules for coffee and soft drinks are different, BTW.) –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 29 '13 at 0:09

3 Answers 3

The problem is not with the water itself, but rather from the solutes it carries (distilled water does not carry electrical current well). When wet they are conductive, but when dry some of them can become corrosive. Proper cleaning using distilled or deionized water should be conducted if you want the affected components to last a decent period of time.

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isopropyl alcohol is better than putting more water over it. –  woliveirajr Sep 27 '11 at 2:27

Water will cause short circuits when electricity is flowing.

Here is some useful information -

The first step in any attempt to salvage electronics from computer water damage is to open up the case if it is a desktop and make sure that all excess water is gone. Next you should have some isopropyl alcohol to spray on any contacts to help in the removal of all the water from anywhere electricity will be running. You should then take the affected parts and make sure they are dry in every way before attempting to power up the system.

The rest of the article is very informative, and should be read before turning your computer, but it is probably better to read it from the source.

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Isopropyl alcohol bought in stores contains 30% or more of water, and is flammable, seems like a bad idea. –  Moab Sep 27 '11 at 2:19

This depends on your motherboard. Some motherboards have short protection, so when they detect a short, they shutdown, though this feature is typically designed for when the pc first powers on, not for when it is already running. So long as you have not damaged any components (capacitors are the most common type in this situation), the board will work fine when the water is gone, but the faster the water is dissipated, the better the chances. Many people will use silicon packets to pull excess liquid, some will use penetrating fluid such as WD-40 to lift and remove water. Just don't use a hair dryer or any sort of towel. Now if you have a blown or distended capacitor or have damaged anything else as a result of the liquid spill, either the component or the board itself will need to be replaced.

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