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Liquid Spills & Damage

If your computer has come into contact with liquid, turn it off completely right away. Hold down the power button for at least 10 seconds and do not try to turn it on again until it has dried, which usually takes at least 3 days.

Computers are extremely sensitive to any contact with liquid. Their internal components are metal with electricity running through them; contact with liquid can cause these components to short circuit or corrode, especially if the machine is powered on while the liquid is inside of it. Turning your computer off and leaving it off is the most important thing you can do to minimize the effects of a liquid spill, although this still won't guarantee your computer will survive undamaged.

What do I do?

Unfortunately, liquid spills are very common - as humans, we enjoy having liquids around a lot even if our computers don't. Try to stay calm and follow these steps.

If you've spilled a liquid onto a laptop while it is open, immediately flip it over with the keyboard facing downward to drain it while also holding down the power button to shut it off. If liquid went into the ports on one side of the computer, hold it sideways to drain as much liquid as possible. Keep the laptop open and prop it on its side somewhere warm, dry, and stable, ideally with a fan directly on it. Depending on the amount of liquid, you need to wait 3-5 days before attempting to power it on or charge it.

If you are an MCAD student, staff, or faculty member, contact to let us know your computer's had liquid damage. We can help you decide how long to let it dry and let you know about options for alternative computers to use in the meantime. We also may be able to help you recover data or work with the Apple store to have it repaired. If your computer is owned by MCAD, simply bring it to the Help Desk as soon as you're able.

After your computer has thoroughly dried, you should try to plug it into power and turn it on. If it turns on, immediately back up any files on the computer that you would lose if it were to stop functioning. Keep an eye on your computer closely for any signs of malfunction.

Data Recovery and Repair

If your computer doesn't turn on after it has thoroughly dried, there are still some steps you can take. These instructions are for personally-owned devices - if your computer is an MCAD-owned faculty or staff laptop, bring it to the Help Desk and we'll work with Apple.

If you didn't have a backup of your important files, you may be wondering about recovering the data on the damaged computer. If you have a MacBook from 2015 or earlier, the hard drive can be physically removed from the computer. If you bring your computer to the Help Desk before contacting Apple for repair, we can try to recover the data on the hard drive by plugging it into a different computer, as long as the hard drive itself is not corroded. If you have a MacBook from 2016 or later with USB-C ports, the hard drive is not removable. You can still bring it to the Help Desk and we'll try to get it to respond, but you may have to work with Apple or a third-party data recovery service (such as Drive Savers or Ontrack). As always, the only reliable way to avoid data loss is regularly making backups of your important files. The Help Desk is always happy to assist in getting this set up for the future.

If your computer is unresponsive, you will want to start a repair with Apple. Check-in with the Help Desk to see if data recovery is possible before sending your computer for repair. Apple will never attempt to recover data from a computer and any third-party data recovery attempts must be done BEFORE sending the computer to Apple, as they are likely to replace the motherboard of the computer.

You can start a repair request at or by calling 1-800-275-2273. Apple can conduct repairs remotely by sending you a box to ship your laptop to them and then mailing it back to you. If you are near the MCAD campus, you can use the MCAD mailroom for this. In some locations, you may also make an appointment to drop your computer off at the Apple Store, depending on changes in Apple's COVID-19 store policy.

If your motherboard needs to be replaced, you can expect this to cost $700-$1000, but costs may vary. In most cases, this will still be less than the cost of a new computer. Apple's default 1-year warranty does not cover water damage, but if you purchased the AppleCare+ extended warranty, the repair will be covered with a fee of $299.

If you have questions about liquid damage or need assistance with a liquid damage request, please contact the MCAD Help Desk by emailing or by phone at 612-874-3666.

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