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Water spill and T420 doesn't boot

T400/T410/T420 and T500/T510/T520 Series
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Water spill and T420 doesn't boot

#1 Post by halpulaar » Mon Nov 22, 2021 6:45 am

Hey guys,
I spilled water on my keyboard and immediately turned laptop upside down to avoid water going in, switched off and removed battery.
Initially, I managed to start the laptop (Ubuntu) and after login in, I could not use the mouse. I restarted again and now, it won't boot. when I start the t420, the screen lights up slightly and the bluetooth light is on. Nothing else happens from then on despite leaving it overnight. I can hear the fan and disk turning when listening closer to the laptop. I removed the disk (Ubuntu OS) to read externally with a Windows laptop but no data accessible there. I assume Windows cannot read it. I also swapped the memory cards to check but no change. One memory card is under the keyboard, the other one at the back of the laptop. I returned all in their original place (disk and memory cards).

Question is : what is wrong on the laptop, do I need to change the motherboard ? please suggest video link then. or do I need to change something else ?
I am stuck and suspect the system board might be affected. Given how difficult it is to access the system board, I thought I will ask on here some advice before buying one and trying to change. I never disassembled a laptop before and looked at some online videos. Looks like it is all about unscrewing here and there. Or is it more complicated ?

Any advice on potential issue welcome.

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Re: Water spill and T420 doesn't boot

#2 Post by Neil » Mon Nov 22, 2021 7:56 am

Give it several days, a week even, to fully dry out, then try again. It takes much longer than you think for the tiny amount of moisture to dry up, that can cause a short circuit. If it still doesn't work then, I would try a replacement keyboard first, then the system board.
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Re: Water spill and T420 doesn't boot

#3 Post by MikalE » Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:14 pm

Attempting to boot the machine before allowing it to thoroughly dry probably did more damage than the initial spill.

Open up the machine's access panels, remove the memory, keyboard, any drives, and let air dry for a week or more.
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Re: Water spill and T420 doesn't boot

#4 Post by halpulaar » Tue Nov 23, 2021 3:42 pm

Thanks MikalE and Neil. I wish I knew before trying to restart desperately and several times...
Will leave to dry and see what happens in a week or two. Shall update this thread afterwards

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Re: Water spill and T420 doesn't boot

#5 Post by mikemex » Tue Nov 23, 2021 9:58 pm

It surely takes ages to dry up. I have a fuzzy memory about spilling liquid over something (don't remember what exactly) and checking it after two or three weeks it still had traces of it.

Heck, my X301 still has alcohol in the refractive sheets that got sucked in by capillarity when I was cleaning it. It seems like it's going to stay there until the end of the world.
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