Water Spill on PC Case and Keyboard

Supittofaia

Prominent
May 12, 2017
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I've been idiotic enough to spill half a glass of water (with a little orange flavouring syrup) directly onto my keyboard, the water then finding its way to my PC case. I turned the PC and PSU off immediately, although no adverse effects were noticed immediately after the spill. Upon opening the case, there were drops of water on the motherboard and on the back and side of the graphics card. I tried wiping away all the water as soon as possible with a paper towel, as well as using a hairdryer to completely dry everything. Since then, I have left the PC in a disassembled state with a paper towel underneath the graphics card. Fortunately, the PSU is top-mounted, so no water should have entered it in theory.

Is there any chance that the hardware is still working? If so, at what point would it be safe to reassemble everything and try to get it to work?
 

Gam3r01

Titan
Moderator
If the system did not shut down or short out thats a good start.
Basically, liquids wont harm the system if there is no power flowing through it, if it didnt short out yet then you probably saved it.
I would personally recommend some high percentage (90+) isopropyl alcohol to clean the areas where there was liquid, simply because it wasnt pure water, you dont want anything gunking up in the system.

let it sit for a least a full day after (just to be sure) and dont dry it.

How long has it been sitting already?
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
I'd clean off all the places where you know the spill touched the motherboard or other components, using soft cloths or paper towels and isopropyl alcohol which will not only remove any residual material from the spill but will also evaporate quickly.

Probably a good idea to leave the side panel completely off for at least a day after the spill to allow any areas that might have been contaminated but cannot be easily seen or reached, to dry. After that, all you can really do is hope for the best. There is no magic bullet for liquid spills onto hardware.

At that point, I see no reason to not attempt to boot the system. It either will or will not run. The keyboard, well, you can usually remove keys to clean under them but if it's not an expensive keyboard then I'd probably just turn it upside down, shake it really well, and leave it sitting upside down to dry for a day. You might encounter some "sticky" keys afterwards, and will need to remove keys and clean underneath using isopropyl alcohol as well.
 

Supittofaia

Prominent
May 12, 2017
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About 4 hours altogether, I've cleaned everything with surgical spirit about 2 hours ago.

UPD: Just realised the alcohol contained 2.5% castor oil. I splashed a few drops on the back of the GPU where the cloth couldn't reach. Is the card definitely fried now?

 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Well, now you've made things worse, but haven't "necessarily" ruined it. Castor oil "might" not damage anything as whole computer systems can run in mineral oil immersion with no ill effects and there may not be enough chemical difference between the two for any kind of permanent damage, especially at that very low percentage. Most likely the castor oil in only part of the mixture to assist the alcohol/solvent base of the surgical spirit from instantly evaporating, but is unlikely for much if any of it to remain once the spirit DOES evaporate.

I'd still recommend getting a bottle of isopropyl alcohol, which is extremely cheap at any Walmart or pharmacy, even home centers, and re-cleaning all the areas you cleaned with the surgical spirit just to be safe. After that, I'd say give it about an hour beyond what you've already done and try it. As I said before, those are only precautionary guidelines and most likely whatever is done, is done, and it will either be ok or it won't. It's at least marginally likely that anything you do at this point won't make a difference, but it's still better to be safe than sorry and go ahead with the isopropyl alcohol which in fact you can probably splash a bit of down in the area where you think the surgical spirits went that you can't get to, then give a shake and let it dry for a while.

That's probably about the best advice anybody is going to be able to offer, as spilling things on hardware is something that should never be a possibility anyhow if you follow the best practice of don't get that crap around your hardware in the first place. Hopefully, it will be ok. I've recovered three or four systems after cleaning with isopropyl alcohol that the owners had spilled sugared/creamered up coffee down inside, likely in greater amounts than what you are describing, and they are still running now two or three years later, at least, to the best of my knowledge.
 

Supittofaia

Prominent
May 12, 2017
7
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After leaving the card to dry overnight, there's still some castor oil residue left (in very thin blotches) on the PCB below the backplate. In theory, it shouldn't harm the system since it has insulating properties, however, it is flammable and thus I'm worried about exposing it to high temperatures. Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to get a hold of pure isopropyl alcohol in the UK, given that it can only be obtained online and would take about a week to deliver. Is it worth trying to boot the system before then or should I definitely remove the oil first?
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Doesn't need to be "pure" isopropyl alcohol. 70% isopropyl alcohol is perfectly fine. Should be available to you. If not, then you can likely find isopropyl alcohol wipes like those used in first aid kits, and those should be fine.
 

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