Laptop can't hold its liquor
August 9, 2017 11:00 AM   Subscribe

My husband spilled whiskey on his Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro laptop and did not do the many things you're supposed to do in that situation. I'm trying to diagnose the result and give a prognosis (yes, possibly repairable by someone who knows what they are doing or no, your laptop is now a brick).

So, he spilled a shotglass of whiskey onto the center of his keyboard. No bueno. (When will manufacturers figure out how to hermetically seal off the keyboard from the important bits that can't have things spilled on them?)

What he did: panicked, powered it down, turned it upside down.
What he did not do: open the case, remove the battery, or unmount... anything.

What I have done so far (several days later): Opened the case, removed the battery, removed eeeeverything in order to get to the keyboard. Motherboard, fans, USB boards, wifi card, SSD, removed, inspected (the innards stink like a bar and I think I got drunk off the fumes). Keyboard removed, cleaned. Everything put back together, I am pretty sure correctly (it's actually pretty straightforward in there, if tiny).

What I did not do: Anything with the RAM. As far as I can tell, it is integrated.

Result: It powers on, and gives the Lenovo logo screen forever. No system.
If I use the boot under BIOS button (thankfully an actual physical button next to the power button), I can get the BIOS menu but the keyboard seems to be hosed, so I can't select anything from the menu. An external USB keyboard works, however. (At least the USB board still works?)

But, from there, things get very weird. I can enter the BIOS set-up but when I do, the screen goes bananas with flickering and selecting things I am not actually selecting and then not letting me advance any further through the menu. It doesn't appear to be a screen issue because the Lenovo logo screen looks fine, and the flickering isn't so much the screen flickering but the stuff on the screen jumping around and disappearing and reappearing.

The system recovery option does nothing--just blank screen.

So, my question here isn't so much "What exactly is wrong and how do I fix it?" but "Given what seems to be happening, is it worth it to take it to a professional for repair, or does it sound like the motherboard is fried and it's game over for this machine?"
posted by soren_lorensen to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Did you use isopropyl alcohol? It's worth a try to gently clean the parts with it. You have nothing to lose. Lots of great tutorials online.
posted by benadryl at 11:23 AM on August 9, 2017

I did use alcohol wipes meant for cleaning electronic components, but I didn't super go to town on it because I'm not knowledgeable enough to know what is and is not okay to really smoosh with a finger.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2017

My friend recently had a small amount of water spill on her MacBook Air. We priced repairs at the Apple Store and with various independent repair persons. Apple was the cheapest at $500, about half the value of the laptop. But still, it was better than spending $1000 for a new one.

I see a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro is at least $1400? I don't know why you wouldn't take it to a pro just to see if they can fix it!

Good luck!
posted by ejs at 11:38 AM on August 9, 2017

My first suggestion would be to try to buy a replacement keyboard on the internet; it looks like they are roughly $50, and it seems like you have the ability to install it. I don't know which Yoga you have or I would link. If it doesn't boot then, you could try to boot from a USB or DVD of Windows. If it will boot from a USB or DVD, it could be the hard drive.

Alternatively you could contact Lenovo and see if they'll give you a quote for repair; I've always gotten accidental damage protection so I don't know what the prices are like, but they've been pretty speedy for me.
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:11 PM on August 9, 2017

Sounds like a damaged graphics card? You could try replacing that, but you can get a new Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 for around $400 on ebay.

I would just buy a new one rather than shell out a comparable price for repair, or replacing bits that may not fix it. Hopefully he had everything backed up? If not, buy an external hd and start doing that going forward. If the internal hd isn't borked you can pull the data off it to the new one with an external case that lets you plug it in as a storage device.

Also you can buy flexible plastic keyboard covers for many laptops that will prevent damage like this in the future.
posted by ananci at 1:36 PM on August 9, 2017

I got a very small amount of water on my Lenovo keyboard, and the keyboard is toast. I bought a USB keyboard, plugged it in, and am able to use my laptop, albeit in an inconvenient manner. It sounds like his keyboard is giving crazy signals. You could try getting a replacement from Lenovo and installing it, something I should get around to doing.
posted by theora55 at 7:48 AM on August 10, 2017

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