What to Do If You Spill Liquid on a Dell Laptop Computer?

Written by alan bradford
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What to Do If You Spill Liquid on a Dell Laptop Computer?
Spilling liquid on your Dell laptop can cause permanent damage to several components. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

You're probably aware of all the warnings to keep electronic equipment away from sources of water to avoid damage to the device and to avoid injury. But if you do spill liquid on your Dell laptop, any potential damage depends on which components have been exposed, what type of liquid spilt and whether the computer was powered on. This also determines how to respond to a spill to avoid permanent damage to your laptop.

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Remove Power

Remove power to the laptop. This is a critical step. Don't attempt to shut the computer down through software. Remove any attached power cords, then remove the battery. Since liquids conduct electricity, moisture on any electrical components inside can cause electricity to jump to various components. Removing power not only can protect the components, but can prevent you from being electrocuted if the spill was large. You may lose some of your work, but safety and protecting the hardware are more important.

Turn Over

Open your laptop so that the bottom and top both lay flat, then turn it upside down. This allows the liquid to drain out of the keyboard and away from critical components without contacting the monitor. Leaving the liquid to drain through the computer with gravity can cause it to contact the lower components. The hard drive and processor in Dell laptops usually have a few layers of plastic or metal that can act as a barrier, but a liquid can penetrate past these barriers if gravity is allowed to work too long.

Dab Liquid

Dab the liquid with an absorbent towel. Dabbing is preferable to wiping, since wiping can spread the liquid to other locations if the towel is not absorbent enough. Though you may be tempted to perform this step first, you should remove power first, then turn the laptop over to allow the liquid to drain. If you can, dab the spill while the laptop is upside down. This not only protects against further seepage, but allows the liquid to drain into the towel, pulling it away from the case.

Leave to Dry

Allow the laptop to dry overnight. Place it in a dry environment and do not use heating appliances to speed up the drying process, such as an oven or space heater. It's critical that all components are allowed to dry completely before assessing the next step in the process. If the spill was only water, after all the water has evaporated, the computer may be safe to turn on and use if no electrical damage was incurred at the time of the spill. If the liquid wasn't water, you may need to have some of the components cleaned or replaced.

Call Dell Support

Contact Dell Support, especially if the spill wasn't water. If your laptop is still under warranty, you may be able to send your computer to a Dell technician for cleaning, repair or both. Warranty coverage for spills, however, isn't covered under the base warranty, but only under additional, purchased warranty coverage. Unless you're familiar with working with computer components, it's not recommended to disassemble the laptop, since this can void your warranty and cause further damage.

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