Hello, everyone. I recently had an unfortunate accident with my MacBook (white unibody mid-2010) and it was soaked. This is the story of what happened to it, my self diagnosis, my experience with the Apple Genius Bar, and how it turned out in the end. I apologize that there aren’t many good pictures. You’d think that I would have taken more pictures of a MacBook that I loved and used for 3 years straight.
How Were You Dumb Enough to Get a MacBook Wet?
You are completely allowed to call me stupid because it is all my fault. I have always (foolishly) stored my water bottles in the same backpack as my MacBook. Though they have always been in different pockets (MacBook in the extra back one, and the water bottles in the main largest one), they have still shared a backpack. Water has seeped through in the past but typically it would not travel into the back compartment housing my MacBook. This time was a different story.
How it Happened
I was driving to work and a friend/co-worker wanted to borrow my acoustic guitar. I shoved the acoustic guitar into the trunk of my car. I usually have always had my backpack on the floor in front of the front passenger seat in my car but this time I lazily threw it into the trunk with my guitar.
I drove to work which is only about 5minutes away from where I live. I got to work and opened the trunk to see that the trunk of my car was soaked. At first I thought, “well this stinks. now my car is going to stink…” and then it hit me that my MacBook, iPad Mini, and Nintendo 3ds were all in the soaked backpack! (Now don’t ask me why I was bringing my 3ds to work, because I won’t answer that.)
My iPad and 3ds were in the same pocket as the MacBook but both remained dry except for maybe a couple drops on the outside. My MacBook, however was completely soaked. My MacBook hadn’t been powered off since I typically have hardly turned it off. (I really just closed the lid before going to bed and putting it to sleep.)
I wanted to go home and dry it but I obviously didn’t want to ask my boss if I could go home and take the thing apart.
Upon inspecting it, I realized that the about half of the MacBook got wet. The side with all of the ports (Magsafe, Ethernet, USB, etc.) was the side that got super soaked. Convenient, right?
I opened the lid of the MacBook and it automatically woke from sleep mode but I quickly held down the power button to turn it off. I figured that I wouldn’t try to turn it on until it was completely dry.
After work, I went home and immediately unscrewed the bottom screws to reveal the inside. I saw that half of the MacBook had definitely gotten completely soaked.
I had always heard that the “rice trick” worked on wet electronics. With nothing to lose, I grabbed a storage bin, filled it with rice, and then put my MacBook inside. I even taped the lid on to try and make it as air-tight as possible.
I texted my mother about the horrible news and she contacted my dad. He called me from work and told me that there was a product he had used to fix his iPhone after he had dropped it into the toilet.
He told me that he had purchased a product called “DampRid” and left it in an air-tight sealed container with his iPhone for a week and that iPhone (4s) still works to this day. My dad then came home with a large bag of DampRid.
If you are unfamiliar with DampRid, it is a product (looks like white flakes) that you pour into a bowl and its intent is to absorb moisture.
My MacBook had been in the container for a few hours with the rice, but I then added a couple of bowls of DampRid into the container and I left my MacBook in there for a week.
Life Without the MacBook
It was really tough getting used to life without a MacBook. I had had that MacBook since the beginning of 2011 and it had become my baby. It had survived most of the torture I threw at it (recording music, playing video games, editing videos, never turning it off, traveling, schoolwork, etc.) but it had perhaps finally met its match when it came into contact with water.
The hardest part of losing my MacBook was the ability to bring it to school and do schoolwork as well as have a second Mac at work (I am a web designer).
I have a Hackintosh at home that is far more powerful than the MacBook, but I obviously can’t cary around a huge machine. Also, it is not as stable as the MacBook, so if I were to have a kernel panic or something, I would be forced to spend time diagnosing the problem or starting in Windows (eek).
One Week Later
A week had passed so I was finally ready to take a look at the MacBook. I turned it on and it appeared to be working just fine. I noticed a few things, though.
First was the volume adjustment. If you have used a Mac, you may have touched the volume keys to adjust the volume and heard the little “clicks” it makes. On my MacBook, hitting those keys showed the volume icon on the screen immediately but the click sound came at a delayed time.
Second was that the battery was not charging. With a fire extinguisher in one hand (just kidding), I worked up the courage to plug in the MacBook. The screen brightened but the battery was not charging. Every so often it would begin to start charging again but then it would eventually stop.
Before it had suffered water damage, it had been constantly telling me to “Service Battery” so I figured that maybe the water just merely killed off the dying battery.
The MacBook still turned on and I was able to plug in USB ports too.
The Apple Genius Bar
Having never spoken to an Apple “Genius” before, I did not know that you had to make an appointment. I walked into the store asking for help, but I was directed to an iPad with the Apple Store’s website opened up. The lady was getting swamped by other customers and she asked me to fill out the appointment form myself, so I did.
I watched the episode of South Park entitled “The Human Cent-iPad” which obviously poked fun at “The Human Centipede” as well as Apple. I had gotten a good laugh out of that episode, but they perceived the Apple Genius bar as being a bit inconvenient so I was worried.
I got to my appointment early so I was asked to sit on a stool at the Genius Bar. The only available seat was on the very end which is apparently where customers sit when they are waiting to pick up their product. Because of that, I was asked a few times if I was there to pick something up.
At 4:30pm sharp, I was approached by a Genius and I told him the issue. He was actually really cool and I had some fun Apple Nerd talk. I dropped it off with him when I was done and left.
As I got into my car and about to leave, I received a phone call from the Apple Genius.
I was told that some rice was found inside of my MacBook (oops) and that swapping out the battery did not solve the problem. Doing a fresh install of Mavericks apparently fixed the lagging Audio issue. I asked if he could try changing out the Magsafe port so he did and there was no luck.
Apple ended up wanting to charge me A LOT of money for the repair since it ended up being the Logic Board that was damaged. They even upped the price because it suffered “water damage.”
I was left with a choice. Spend near $500 on a repair for a 2010 model MacBook with no USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, or to spend near $2,000 on a new MacBook that fit my standards.
Instead of asking for the repair, I took the MacBook back. I didn’t find it worth a $500 repair.
Rather than try to repair it, I figured I would just sell it. It still worked as long as it was plugged in. Luckily, I had kept the original box that it came in as well as all of the CDs.
I had actually modded the MacBook taking out the Optical Drive and inserting an OWC Data Doubler so that I could put in a second Hard Drive. I had also changed the stock hard drive to an SSD.
I threw in the original HDD and threw the optical drive back into the MacBook.
I then popped in the original Snow Leopard CD, ran the disk utility, erased the hard drive, formatted the hard drive, and then re-installed Snow Leopard.
I made about $75 selling it to a local computer store that buys old computers, repairs it, and then sells it.
You Win, Water
It looks like water ultimately triumphed over the MacBook, but it gave me a reason to buy a new MacBook Pro 13″ with Retina! Stay tuned for a post about it.