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Oxydised components on motherboard following water damage


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Old 20-11-2012, 01:10
The Wizard
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A workman who came to clean my dad's sofa accidently got some of the cleaning solution in my dads notebook off the hose he was using.

As a result it wouldn't boot up but it did have power. He took it to a laptop repair shop who stripped it down and dried it out and for the past week it's been OK. Then today all of a sudden it stopped working again so I decided to take a look at it for him. I stripped it down but it was bone dry but I noticed some of the capacitors had green oxidation on them which has obviously built up over the past week. I gave it a brush with a child's toothbrush and it seems to be working again so I presume the problem is to do with the components being shorted out by the oxidization where it would seem the laptop repair guy has failed to dry it out thoroughly.

I'm concerned whether it will continue to oxidize or whether it needs cleaning off with some special solution or will it be OK now that its dry and I've removed the rust which was causing the short? When I brushed it off it seemed to be like a powder but not sure if left as it is whether the oxidation will come back or spread or continue to rust.

Anyone have any ideas whether I should leave it and see how it goes or do it need to clean it with something?
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Old 20-11-2012, 03:04
Loobster
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It's likely damaged beyond economic repair, and I'd tell the cleaning company they owe you a replacement laptop.

Messing with cleaning rust/oxidisation off capacitors etc on a motherboard is not likely to result in a computer that is safe to use.

Get what data you need off the hard drive, buy a new laptop and send them the bill.
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Old 20-11-2012, 09:24
The Wizard
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It's likely damaged beyond economic repair, and I'd tell the cleaning company they owe you a replacement laptop.

Messing with cleaning rust/oxidisation off capacitors etc on a motherboard is not likely to result in a computer that is safe to use.

Get what data you need off the hard drive, buy a new laptop and send them the bill.
I would have done the same and I'd have rang him up and torn strips off him big time but my dad wouldn't do it and just said it was an accident and as the cleaning guy was doing my dad a favour he didn't like to have a go at him as he said he didn't do it on purpose.

The notebook was on a table, closed, about 2 meters away from where he was cleaning. He must have had the pressure hose running constantly and some of it must have sprayed across the room onto the notebook as when my dad went to use it,it was soaking wet. How it managed to get inside when the lid was shut I can't begin to imagine.

He doesn't want to go out and buy a new one because he really likes this notebook and he can't afford to go out and buy another one. Besides, he hasnt seen one with the same spec and price for what he paid for this one and also he doesn't want to move to a new operating system so he really could do without the hassle of having to fork out for a new machine then spend days restoring all his data and settings etc. It's just more hassle and he doesn't have the time and to be fair he's really attached to this.notebook. It was a Christmas present off my mum and he's only had it a couple of years. He's really gutted but i'm hoping that cleaning the components might have done the trick.

What I'm asking is, now that it's working and I've cleaned off the oxidisation, is it likely to get any worse over time or is it more likely that once the rust is removed and it's now dried out that the rust problem won't spread/get any worse. In other words, once oxidisation has started will it continue to eat away at the components or is it a case of, once that it's dried out and been brushed off it wont get any worse? I tested it last night and everything seems to be working fine so far but will it last?

I've told him to just see how he goes on with it but wasn't sure if it needed cleaning with isopropanol. Now that it seems to be working I didn't want to touch it without asking advice in case I made matters worse and it stopped working again. I'm hoping that the components haven't suffered and lasting damage and hopefully it will be ok.
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Old 20-11-2012, 09:37
The Wizard
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If the worse case scenario happens and it packs up again would it be possible to just remove the 3 damaged capacitors and get a repair shop to hand solder some new ones on? I can't see it costing much for 3 tiny little components. I used to work in a factory that hand soldered motherboards so at a push I could maybe have a go at doing it myself but would prefer to ask someone else that has more experience as I wouldn't know the value of the capacitors or which way round they went on as it's been a long time since I worked with anything like that. At one time I could tell you the value of resistors etc but that was many moons ago.

I don't believe in throwing anything out if it's repairable.
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Old 20-11-2012, 10:05
RobinOfLoxley
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Since it's powered by a low voltage brick, it's unlikely to dangerous.

Possibly the oxidation was retaining some moisture which is now gone. I would say keep using it.

IPA or Meths are good solvents to use (pure not diluted versions), with cotton buds and old toothbrushes. Compressed air good for blowing too.
(they are also flammable, allow to evaporate before powering)

I'd write it off if it needed repeated sorting out.


I have repaired some contractor equipment, from backs of vans that have driven into ditches and been fully dunked. Mixed results. Mainly due to silt in connectors and mechanical parts, not the electronics. eg you may find problems with the CD/DVD drive, if it has one.

Some have taken many days to dry out due to inaccessability of nooks and crannies.


You could make a claim against the guy. Really he should have Public Liability Insurance. But if this was a moonlighter or other reason, I can understand why you may not want to.
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Old 20-11-2012, 10:13
chrisjr
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Problem with this sort of thing is you cannot say with absolute certainty whether the problem has been fixed. The laptop could go on for years or it could die tomorrow. No way to know. If it has been thoroughly cleaned out then chances are it won't get any worse.

But what I would suggest is that your dad makes regular back-ups of all important data. It's a good idea at the best of times as even brand new components can fail. But when you have something that has been damaged you can never be sure it is OK. So better safe than sorry and at least have the important stuff safe if the worst were to happen.
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Old 20-11-2012, 12:06
paulj48
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would it be possible to just remove the 3 damaged capacitors and get a repair shop to hand solder some new ones on? I can't see it costing much for 3 tiny little components.
Very unlikely as modern laptops usually use multi layered printed circuit boards so for all you know the components may be soldered to an unacessable part or the board.
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Old 20-11-2012, 13:41
Ignite
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Probably your best option would be to take a look on Ebay and see if there is a "for spares" laptop of the same model as your fathers. Then you will be able to use some of the parts from that and your fathers to make a working laptop.
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Old 20-11-2012, 16:05
The Wizard
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Thanks. I'll see how it goes. He's been using it all today and powered it down several times and so far it's working perfectly but as you say there's no knowing how long those components will last. Ill check it again in a few days time to inspect for more oxidisation and to see if anything has gotten worse. If it is then ill try the cotton bud and alcohol thing and see if that helps. Failing that maybe see if I can get an identical model off eBay and swap the motherboard over.
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Old 20-11-2012, 23:51
Loobster
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Since it's powered by a low voltage brick, it's unlikely to dangerous.
Even low voltage items can catch on fire. Especially when there's liquid/rust damage, as in this case.

I wouldn't risk it, but of course the OP and his dad have that decision to make.
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Old 21-11-2012, 08:06
MartinPickering
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If possible, clean with pure Isopropyl Alcohol. This will help remove any remaining moisture. Dry it thoroughly with a hair dryer set to LOW heat. Finally, apply WD40, which will help to prevent further oxidation. I've used this method several times on satellite receivers that had been peed in or otherwise given a drink. On no occasion did the treatment make it worse.
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Old 21-11-2012, 12:39
Orbitalzone
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If possible, clean with pure Isopropyl Alcohol. This will help remove any remaining moisture. Dry it thoroughly with a hair dryer set to LOW heat. Finally, apply WD40, which will help to prevent further oxidation. I've used this method several times on satellite receivers that had been peed in or otherwise given a drink. On no occasion did the treatment make it worse.
Of course with WD40 being flamable you'd want to be careful where it gets squirted and mop up any surplus but it might well prevent further corrosion.
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Old 17-12-2012, 22:21
The Wizard
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Update: It's been working ever since I cleaned it but yesterday it's given up again. Tried cleaning it with isopropyl but is still won't boot up. My dad doesn't want to buy a new netbook as he doesn't want to have to spend days reloading all his stuff on, doesn't like the new windows os and he really likes everything this netbook has to offer. What are the chances of a repair company checking the motherboard for duff components?
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Old 18-12-2012, 03:28
Loobster
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There are companies that repair laptops, and will replace the motherboard for you.

I still find it hard to comprehend why you didn't press the guy to replace the laptop in the first place. This scenario was always very unlikely to end happily.

If you get a new Windows 8 Pro laptop you can always excercise your downgrade rights and install 7 Pro on it.
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Old 18-12-2012, 09:07
Maxatoria
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It'll be cheaper to just replace a motherboard than have someone probably spend a week testing it and it gets real hard with multi layer boards and it may have several faults some of which may only show up under load so spending hours with a multimeter may be worthless
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Old 18-12-2012, 09:56
mred2000
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As well as checking on eBay for a donor laptop for parts, check out the places on this thread: http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1767378

As Maxatoria says, it'll probably be cheaper in the long run to just replace the motherboard.
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Old 18-12-2012, 11:42
MartinPickering
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Did you apply WD-40 to prevent corrosion as I suggested?
If not then you now know why I suggested it. (For the record, I always flood the board and I don't "wipe off the surplus" - I simply let it drain off.)

At this point I'd say it's beyond repair and I agree with the suggestion to replace it - or at least the mother board.
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Old 18-12-2012, 12:45
The Wizard
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I don't know what I'm more annoyed about. Their stupidity at leaving it lying around where a blokes using a pressure hose or the fact they didn't have a go at him over it. Yes I did the wd40 thing but it made no difference. I did have it working for a while last night by of all things placing it in the fridge for 10 minutes then applying light pressure over the lower left side of the casing. Tried it again this morning and it worked when I pressed on the case but after a reboot I got an Ethernet failure message and now it wont boot up at all. Looks like it's totally dead now.
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Old 18-12-2012, 12:54
mred2000
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Yeah, bit annoying that the bloke responsible is, essentially, getting away with it when it should be them forking out any cash...
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Old 18-12-2012, 13:27
The Wizard
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Annoying that I got it working today but now it wont boot up at all. I think maybe the board is dying and one failed component could be causing stress on the others sobits slowly packing up. There's power but no boot. When I power up the hard disc lights up for a second then stops. The fan runs but then stops.

I even tried applying some more thermal paste to the processor but that hasn't made any difference. I feel so bad for him because he can't afford a new laptop and repairs are just ad expensive. Someone is selling an old one of these on eBay for 80 but I can't guarantee it will work.
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Old 18-12-2012, 13:36
mred2000
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Depending on what he uses it for a new laptop might not be needed, check out some of the reconditioned laptop suppliers in the thread I previously linked to in post #16.

Obviously, it shouldn't be him splashing out for another laptop in the first place...
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Old 18-12-2012, 17:38
The Wizard
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Depending on what he uses it for a new laptop might not be needed, check out some of the reconditioned laptop suppliers in the thread I previously linked to in post #16.

Obviously, it shouldn't be him splashing out for another laptop in the first place...
Thanks ill take a look. He's after a netbook with built in webcam for Skype. Built in sd card reader to transfer his photos. A VGA out so he can hook it up to his TVs for watching streaming sports as he doesn't have HDMI on his telly and an Ethernet port so he can load all his software on from the network quicker instead of doing it wirelessly. He also wants to be able to stick with Windows XP as he really hates Vista (not tried windows 7) and doesn't want windows 8 which I can fully appreciate.
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Old 18-12-2012, 18:03
mred2000
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I have an Acer Aspire One from 2008 which ticks all those boxes so I'm sure they're not hard to find... Also, give Win7 a go. Really. It's miles better than XP.
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Old 18-12-2012, 22:21
The Wizard
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I have an Acer Aspire One from 2008 which ticks all those boxes so I'm sure they're not hard to find... Also, give Win7 a go. Really. It's miles better than XP.
Oh right. I think we both got put off by Vista. I thought 7 was just an updated version of it without the bugs. We both kinda of like the look and feel of xp. Me especially because of the simple file structure and the fact that in xp you can do loads of registry tweaks but I love the simpleness of xp as we both use the classic layout making it look like Win95. Vista was just frustrating to use. That might sound crazy to a lot of people but we're creatures of habit and don't like to move from something that we're comfortable with. After all over the last few years every time Microsoft have made a so called improvement it's been worse or more foddley than before. Take Windows8 for example. Android users are not likely to prefer it over that and desktop users are gonna be frustrated that their trusty desktop is no longer as accessible nor customisable. I worry that if I buy a new laptop and want to put my copy of xp on it, whether it will be compatible or even be able to get the drivers for the new hardware. My dad is 70 and he already struggles using a computer so the last thing he needs is to find his way around a new operating system when he's only just hot used to xp.

The netbook we have is the Toshiba NB200 and it beats most new netbooks hands down. We both got them at the same time and this is why I'm so upset for my dad because I know just how upset is be if this ever happened to mine.
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Old 18-12-2012, 23:53
Loobster
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My dad is 70 and he already struggles using a computer so the last thing he needs is to find his way around a new operating system when he's only just hot used to xp.
That's easily fixed. Just get a new Windows 8 or 7 laptop, and install Classic Shell.

That's what most people who bought a PC pre-loaded with that metro crap use to make Windows 8 look like Windows 7. You can also choose to make it look like XP too, if you wish.

So you'd get an up to date OS, that looks like one that he's familiar with.
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