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Spill cleaned up, but now there's a keyboard problems

A Sonic Route 44 Diet Limeade was spilled into this poor thing, and initially it wouldn't power on. The owner reported a sizzling noise when he tried powering on after it dried out.

After disassembly, a spray down with contact cleaner, a new battery, new keyboard, and a new battery, everything works except the keyboard backlight and one row of keys. The keyboard backlight is my fault; the catch was stuck during disassembly, so I tugged on it harder instead of hosing it down with contact cleaner.

But the keyboard has me stumped! When cold, the keys work fine, but after running a few minutes, most of the QWERTY row fails. This is why the keyboard was replaced, but the problem was unchanged. No overheating has been found by my limited diagnostics. Before sending this out for motherboard repair, is there anything else to try?

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Just to keep the story line current, reseating the keyboard ribbon cable on the motherboard will get the keyboard working temporarily. The first time I tried it, everything worked fine for most of a day before it finally had problems with the QWERTY row. That cable clamp is delicate and I'm reluctant to keep working it, so next time it fails I'll try just giving it a small push and see what happens.

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To start with contact cleaner leaves an oily residue which needs to be cleaned as it tends to effect things as you have found out here. I don't recommend contact cleaner, it was never intended for micro-electronics but for relay contacts. It also tends to collect the dust choking the system causing it to over heat. Yes, some vendors claim it works it just doesn't - Sorry!

At this point I think you'll need to take the logic board fully out and use a high grade Isopropyl alcohol 90% (reagent) dip the logic board completely. I would even recommend getting a loadable sprayer and using it to help push the oils out from under the components with the alcohol. You will need to refresh the pan a few times to make sure its fully clean.

Even after all of this I'm not sure you've really addressed all of the needed cleaning of the spilled drink from the rest of the system.

You talk about replacing the keyboard but did you replace the trackpad or did you clean it? If you hadn't lets try cleaning it and the ribbon cables. But this time carefully wash down the exposed areas with distilled water (not tap water!) using a cotton swab (Q-Tip) and then again this time with the Isopropyl alcohol.

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Good to know this about contact cleaner! Nothing has been done with the trackpad and it works fine so far. In the meantime, the keyboard ribbon cable has been reseated plus power and ethernet cables were disconnected. So far, the keyboard has worked longer than before and the shift lock key now lights!

Reseating the ribbon cable was an obvious first step; that may have been misaligned before, or moving it around in the connector may have burnished a contact and removed some of the contaminants. Cables were disconnected on the chance they were creating heat.

In the future, if problems reappear everything will get an alcohol/distilled water bath, but I really want to avoid another teardown if possible.

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Interesting. Everything worked fine until an iPhone was plugged in to charge, and then the QWERTY row dropped out again. Once the phone and charger were disconnected and some time was allowed to cool, the keys began working again.

Suspicion has now shifted to the Magsafe connector. Other thoughts?

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Still the same - Clean the logic board correctly.

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Suspicion.

Suspicion is conveniently sneaking closer to the cheap and easily replaceable part that is NOT the problem and away from the miserable to fix but ACTUAL cause of your problem!

Why is this so common on this website? :( :(

What the !&&* does the magsafe connector have to do with the keyboard? Show me one schematic where the magsafe shares anything with anything that talks to the keyboard...

Fix what is actually broken.

1) Get every remnant of contact cleaner off of this laptop.

2) Remove old keyboard.

3) Throw it in the TRASH!!!!

4) Install a new one.

Do not replace working magsafe connector to fix a bad keyboard on a laptop where liquid was spilled on the keyboard!!

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Since I've already made enough mistakes on this repair to know that it's over my head, it has already been shipped to you, Louis.

The keyboard was an easy guess, and since the case top runs warmer than a working MacBook, so was the cooling fan. Both of those were replaced. Now, everything works fine on battery, but with a charger, an ethernet cable, are a USB backup hard drive plugged in the case warms up in that area and there's a keyboard problem within 15-20 minutes. Why? I don't know - just reporting an observation.

Maybe it’s the MagSafe connector, maybe I damaged the heat pipe, but I’ve done this enough times to know when I’m just throwing parts at guesswork and it’s time for a handoff to someone more skilled.

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Ultrasonic the board. 1 gallon distilled water, 103 milliliters branson EC. then off to a small tray of 99% alcohol, then into an air filter or fan to dry for ten minutes, then to an oven for 225f for 30 minutes. NOT TO MELT SOLDER, that is bullshit and never fixes anything, but just 225f to get rid of the alcohol/water residue hiding.

Then it will work again.

No more contact cleaner, that is not for laptops.

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Okay guys, will do, and I'll even 'fess up if/when it works.

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Screw it Louis, I surrender. I'm sending it to you before I do any more damage! Without ready access to the chemicals or a large enough ultrasonic tank, it's cheaper to confess my sins and let you do it.

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And you're right - the keyboard was miserable to fix, but it's done.

Edit: The Keyboard has been replaced, but it is not fixed. There have been several false fixes, and Lewis claims it works fine when booted from his version of Maverick on their bench hard drive. I've tried it under Maverick, Yosemite, and El Capitan with the same result; q, w, e, r, t, y, u, and i keys fail when the system begins to warm up. I had thought the system was running hot, but an SMC reset seems to have helped that.

The keyboard is new, Louis has given the motherboard a clean bill of health, so I'm out of ideas.

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