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Macbook Pro soda spill

edited January 2013 in MacBook Pro
Model #A1278--mid 2009 Recently with time on my hands (unemployed) I (a novice computer user) decided to direct some attention to a MBP which my daughter orphaned about one year ago. After she spilled a soda on the keyboard she went to the campus Apple store for advice and was told little could be done. They hard drive appears to have been salvaged from the damaged MBP and the charger cable was scavenged for some other purpose. Notwithstanding the potential damage to the keyboard I still have a desire to determine if I can bring this computer back to life without buying a new device. Therefore after looking at your video addressing the replacement of the keyboard I am encouraged by your description of a way to "jump" start the computer. Several questions obtain-----(1) Can I "jump" the computer without the harddrive? (2) Can I charge the device using my daughters current MBP model #A1278 power cable. (3) If I replace the hard drive unformated won't I be obliged to format and load a current version of Mac OS? (4) Is there a way to determine the viability of the current battery with some type of continuity test? I am impressed with the availability of video to help with the repair of these machines and I thank you for the use of your videos.

Tom Hennings


  • Hi Tom! Thanks for the post! To answer your questions:

    1. You can definitely jump a computer without a hard drive. In fact, a computer does not need a drive to power on, and it's beneficial for the purpose of troubleshooting to remove all elements which are not necessary. A functional Mac without a drive should power on to a white screen and a blinking folder/question mark.

    2. All MacBooks except the most current revision can use the same MagSafe AC adapters, so you should be good with your daughter's AC. The largest and most powerful MacBooks (i.e. 17") work best with the 85W AC instead of the 60W AC, but in most cases this is not an issue.

    3. Yes, if you put a new/blank hard drive in the machine, it won't have an OS on it, so you'll have to install one. It also most likely won't come Mac formatted either, so you'll need to go to the Disk Utility within the installer setup, make sure it's set up with GUID partitioning, and formatted as Mac OS Extended.

    4. No, a continuity test would give you minimal, if any, information. The only way to get comprehensive and useful data on a battery is to connect the battery to a working Mac and use a program like Coconut Battery or iStat Pro, both free, which tell you things like current capacity vs original capacity, the number of load cycles, etc.

    Is there corrosion on the board from the soda spill? If so, I'd clean it off with 90% alcohol and a toothbrush before attempting to jump the machine. Also, if jumping the machine doesn't appear to be working, it's important to test the RAM slots by attempting to power on with one slot empty, then the other slot empty.

    Anyway, good luck, and let me know how it goes!

  • Good Morning John! Thank you for your prompt response.

    Following my post from last night, my daughter reminded me that (unbeknownst to me) the harddrive was in the closet and in our possession. Absent the bracket and screws (these screws are trading on a par with Gold and Silver!) I explored the net and discovered them out of stock at Unless you have them I will wait for an ifixit in stock email alerting to their availability.

    1. I have carefully explored the location on the logic board for "jumping" and believe I spot two solder points diagonal from one another in that approximate location. I remain apprehensive in shunting these contacts for fear I may cause damage with a short? Based upon your comment in 1. above and in light of there being potential damage to other assemblies would it be wise to try disconnecting other parts----ie fan, superdrive, speakers, magsafe connection etc.?

    2. MagSafe----Good news-------should I be fortunate enough to discover a salvageable device I shall be looking to buy a power adapter. I tried it on one occasion and the device in question did not "light up".

    3. HD----I think I will be alright there also but will reserve judgement in the course of time

    4. Continuity----I shall explore the possibility of testing in my daughters newer machine..............?

    On the question of corrosion on the board....soda spill? I have not pulled the machine completely apart. I suspect that might reveal more about damage. I have discovered on magnifying glass inspection some suspicious goop (I don't want to jump to conclusion till I'm further along in this process) on what appears to be a heat sink at the lower center of the logic board just above what I would guess are the 8 ram simms. I apologize for not being sufficiently descriptive yet I have not learned my anatomy at this point! I am trying to take a photo via email.
  • Hi Tom! I'd buy the screw set on eBay...they are probably cheaper there. I got this list by searching for "macbook unibody hard drive screws", and it produced a lot of options. Ifixit is great, but they are generally expensive.

    No need to disconnect optical, fan, etc., when jumping the board. All you're doing is the equivalent of pushing the power button, so there's not much danger. I do generally disconnect the battery though, just to keep the situation simple. The AC will need to be connected to the magsafe adapter, obviously, in order to get power to the machine and turn it on.

    I wouldn't consider the gunk above the RAM (yes, those are the RAM modules, and they can be removed by pressing outward on the tabs on either side) to be of concern -- it looks like normal dust accumulation. Like I mentioned earlier, if jumping the board doesn't work, you should try it again with one slot empty, then the other, because often there is a bad or temperamental slot.

    I did some digging, and assuming you have a mid 2009 15" Pro, I think your model requires a somewhat different method of jumping, i.e. it doesn't have the usual pads, and instead you'll need to short one of the pins on the cable connector. Remember to disconnect the ribbon cable first. Take a look at this iFixit page for instructions:

    As far as the AC adapter, you'll want to verify it's good first by testing it on your daughter's machine. Using an AC adapter that you don't know is good will not produce conclusive results. If it doesn't show a green light on the bad machine, try flipping the AC plug the other way. Also, try the RAM test mentioned above, and see if the green light comes on with one slot or the other empty. There's no point trying to jump the board without a green light -- you need a green light first. A lack of a green light (with a known-good AC adapter, of course) is evidence pointing toward liquid damage/power issues with the board. If you get stuck and can't get a green light, you might want to take the board out and examine the other side for corrosion. Again, you need a green light to proceed, so that's got to be resolved before jumping the board.

  • Good evening John! You cannot imagine how grateful I am for your prompt and concise response to my posting. I will get to work tomorrow and attempt to move forward.
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