We see a ton of damaged computers in the service department. It seems more common in our South Burlington tech room, as it’s right down the street from the University of Vermont and, well, it’s a college town. There are two primary types of physical damage: liquid spills and impact damage.

Liquid spills often mean the end of a machine’s useful life. If you spill anything in your computer, immediately turn it off by unplugging the MagSafe and removing the battery. Open it up and turn the machine upside down. Leave it alone. FOR A WEEK. If you bring your spill-damaged machine in for service, we will not begin testing for a week; this ensures that all the water has evaporated.

If you drop your computer, it’s safe to try turning it on in most cases. Depending on the impact, the machine will probably have obvious denting and perhaps even a shattered screen. I’ve seen quite a few dropped MacBooks come in with a dim screen, very little denting, and functioning external video.

Dim screens can be caused by a failure of the LCD itself, the inverter board, various cables, main logic board, or a loose connection anywhere along the line. In the MacBook that inspired this article, a very severe drop caused the connection from main logic board to inverter cable to come loose, resulting in a dim screen.

Of course, the best way to prevent impact damage is to keep your laptop in a well padded case.

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