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Most laptop liquid damage guides online show how to clean a laptop if liquid is spilled on top of a laptop.

In my case, my laptop was sitting on my basement floor and my basement flooded. I don't know the exact water level but the water did splash high enough that it got on top of the laptop's back lid (which was closed). Also, the battery at that time was NOT in the laptop since my laptop's battery was dead and I had to plug it in each time I used it.

Also, the water wasn't the cleanest. It was slightly brown. I don't remember exactly if it was sticky or not (flooded several months ago) but after the water dried up, it did leave stains on top of the laptop lid (which easily is stained because of the type of material) because of the water residue.

Laptop's model number is hp dv7-2273cl. Before the basement flooding incident, my laptop made some noise. I suspect it was an aging hard drive but I'm not sure. A few days after the flood, I turned on the laptop and it didn't work. It charged for a second and then the light went out. So I thought that it was completely trash. So I put it away somewhere and now after many months I really need a laptop again.

So I go and find the laptop and charger and try it again (months after flooding) and it surprisingly works now. I turned it on and I started hearing the sound. I can't remember if this is the sound that existed before or has it gotten worst because of the water damage. So because I was afraid that there still might some residue left over inside of the components and I didn't want anything to fry so I shut it off once I got to the login screen.

My question is, what should I do? Should I continue to use it normally or should I open it up and have the components cleaned (I'm not sure how to do this). The most advanced work I've done with hardware is built my own desktop but desktop components are vastly different than laptops so I have no idea what to do with it.

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marked as duplicate by Karan, Dave, CharlieRB, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Breakthrough Jun 1 '13 at 1:15

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Given what it's been through if you're unsure of doing it yourself I would suggest having someone capable and experienced take a look inside. –  Karan May 31 '13 at 4:04
    
I can't afford someone professional to do it. It turned on so that means that majority of the components are working right. I can open it up and clean up any mud/residue left. But should I back up my hardrive just incase or replace it? –  An Alien May 31 '13 at 4:21
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If you can open it up and pinpoint the noise to the HDD then I'd definitely recommend backing up your important data immediately and replacing it. Get an SSD if you want a nice performance boost. Besides that compressed air should help. As for cleaning any gunk/flood water residue from the components inside, I'd suggest distilled water but I'll leave it to the experts to recommend any chemicals safe for use. Finally, after cleaning don't try and use a blow drier to dry it. Just leave it open for a few days and plug it in only if you're 100% sure it's dry. –  Karan May 31 '13 at 4:24
    
Can I use a fan to dry instead of blow drier? –  An Alien May 31 '13 at 4:54
    
I guess, as long as it doesn't blow any cables etc. loose. Also see this question and all others it links to. –  Karan May 31 '13 at 4:56

3 Answers 3

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A few days after the flood, I turned on the laptop and it didn't work. It charged for a second and then the light went out.

Most likely the internal components were still wet and shorted the laptop. A laptop can still be wet after several days and especially after being submerged in water.

First of all, backup your hard drive. I won't get into the details of how-to, you definitely can find many answers on SuperUser.

Can I use a fan to dry instead of blow drier?

Do not use a blow-dryer or fan to dry your laptop. Let it "air dry." A fan can push dirt and grime into hard to reach places. A blow dryer not only will push the dirt, but can harm the internal components with its heat. Let it air dry.

After backing up your hard drive, I suggest you open it up and give the internal a wipe down with denatured alcohol/rubbing alcohol. It will definitely clean up the dirt from the dirty water (especially if it was sticky) and dry much faster than other solutions. If you are sure you gave it a good cleaning with the alcohol. Use compressed air to clean out any dust as well.

If you need to remove parts with a lot of screws, use a paper or sticky note to group them and write notes next to them to know where they came from. Taking pictures will also help you remember where they came from...

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At this point I would consider the laptop to be compromised. Yeah, you may still be able to use it but you have no idea what internal damage was caused when you tried turning it on briefly after the incident, even if you were to clean the machine up and remove the oxidization.

I think your best bet is to grab as much data off of it that you can while it is still working, and keep using the laptop with the realization that it can potentially fail at any point in the future.

That has been my experience with flooding and water damage at least.

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I've been working in IT for 4 years building countless PC's and I don't feel comfortable opening laptops to the degree of taking motherboards out to get to a fan, due to the amount of screws and how difficult it can be to get certain models apart.

Some models you can just pull out the hard drive from a slot on the side of the laptop (usually covered by plastic that matches the casing with a hdd symbol next to it). If that exists on your model you could pull that out and boot up and see if the noise still exists, then you'll know whether or not to take it further.

If you also do not feel comfortable, I would get an expert to look at it if I were you. This is the best answer as I can give, as the question does not have a definite 'do' or 'do not' answer.

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