Tech Blog

Don't try this at home...

by Retired Blogger on ‎07-26-2010 09:45 PM - last edited on ‎04-30-2012 11:44 AM by Retired Moderator

Earlier this week it was rather warm in Edmonton. So much so that my wife and I moved our home office outside to our shaded patio. With our dogs, and a few adult beverages (some of you can already see where this is going).

So as we were setting up, moving the table, tripping over dogs, and generally having fun being outside, calamity struck -- some of the contents of my beer bottle found its way into the keyboard of my wife’s lovely little Dell m1210. The unit was powered down at the time.

Of course, we’d immediately pulled out the battery pack (to remove any electricity source from any potential shorting caused by the liquid) and proceeded to blot up everything in sight.

Then, a healthy blast of canned air followed to blow any missed liquid out. In hindsight, this may not have been the best approach because it also could have blown liquid further into the unit.

Finally, we reconnected everything and powered it up.

No joy. My wife’s little pride and joy was beeping and carrying on. Again we pulled the battery. By now my wife is cursing my name, my beer, and starting to think about a new iPad. Hmmm.

We decided to set the laptop aside for the evening and let it dry out some more.

The next day
After doing a bit of reading online (this post here and here) I’d determined that I could easily pop the keyboard out of the laptop and give it a thorough inspection and cleaning. After that, if it didn’t work, I’d be either replacing the keyboard, or investing in a new iPad for her. I’m still not sure which she’d have preferred.

But, lucky for me and my tech-geek pride, taking the day to let the moisture evaporate seemed to do the trick. After removing the keyboard and giving the innards a thorough cleaning, I simply put everything back together again and the little laptop booted up as if nothing had happened.

It’s also possible that when I booted it up with beer in the works, that shorted a few things that caused the bios to abort the bootup process with all that beeping. Once I’d disconnected the keyboard from the computer, cleaned it up and reconnected it, I may have reset the fault signal in bios which let the bootup proceed normally. Not sure about that but that’s another possibility.

The moral of the story?

  • First off, make sure you have a current backup! We didn’t. Though I could have popped the HD from the laptop and used another computer to copy it, having a current backup will give you peace of mind as you proceed through the hardware rescue mission.
  • Second, take your time. Yes, you may be upset or angry, but a few deep breaths and a methodical approach to whatever you do to recover the system will always be better than rushing in to ‘just fix it’.
  • Third, don’t be afraid to back off for a day or so. Sleep on the problem. Give your brain a while to digest and ruminate on the issues. The best solution may come to you in a day or so.
  • Fourth, it’s only a computer. If you’ve got a sound backup, your data will be safe, and you can easily replace parts (or the computer if it’s really fubared) and still get access to your stuff.


All in all, things worked out for us. And I’m sure, if the keyboard was dead, a spare could be found online. And if not, I think there was an iPad in our near future.

© 2011 Future Shop. All rights reserved. For personal, noncommercial use.