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So a friend just gave me his Macbook Air 1,1 on which he spilt some water. He wiped it away immediately, turned it off and upside down but alas the "l" key is no longer functional. However all the others are.

PRAM reset, no luck. Lifted keycap off, nothing unusual visible but still doesn't work. I'm going to leave it off and evaporating for a little while to see if that changes anything, but any suggestions would be great.

Incidentally, he also is still covered under Applecare. Can we get away with a repair on this? There's no water damage marker is there?

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4 Answers 4

Apple are very likely to repair this under Applecare with no charge. I have had several defective keyboards and stuck keys in the past. In all cases, Apple replaced the keyboards for free under Applecare.

Clearly your milage will vary, since if you have damaged the keyboard by misuse they are under no obligation to fix it, but in my experience, Genius bar engineers will always give you the benefit of the doubt.

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There are LCI (Liquid Contact Indicators) on the topcase/keyboard of the MacBook Air which are quite sparsely placed. If these are tripped Apple will nearly always decline a repair, especially if the faulty module is the one with tripped LCI's. There's also a chance that there will be signs of liquid ingress on the underside of the keyboard.

Parts with tripped LCI's will not be covered by warranty until replaced.

However, there's a good chance that there won't be any sign of liquid damage. Plus Apple tend to be super nice to their AppleCare customers, so it's worth a punt.

The important thing is to deny all knowledge of a spillage

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2  
Don't lie about liquid damage. Trained techs deal with this on a daily basis, so if you are hoping they will be nice to you, I recommend the golden rule and respecting their time and efforts. In the unibody macs, you won't get a new key - they will move all the guts of your air into a new keyboard/shell. If LCI are soaked - you should expect to pay for the repair - if not it was a lucky break and no harm, no foul. There's a moral and real-world difference between being unsure as to what happened (down to the milliliter) and actively misleading someone. Do take it in and learn your options :-) –  bmike Oct 4 '11 at 16:17

The best method is to take it to someone that knows how to repair keys on the mac. Repair shops generally have spares of the delicate scissors and keys (as they can break on removal) and they will need to remove the key cap to investigate whether the spill was related.

If the sensor contact that lies under the I key is shorted (while wet), you can expect a recovery, but that the liquid will be corroding things.

If the mac is totally dry and still not working, the electronics may need to be repaired.

Repair techs see this hundreds of times in a year - it's not so scary to them, so take it in and ask realistically how the repair would go. If things are corroded, going in to move parts might result in a non functioning machine - so it's a gamble based on exactly what liquid, where it went, how fast it dried and plain old fashioned luck.

Hopefully it's a piece of lint or something preventing the switch so learn how that key comes off and see for yourself or take it in if there are convenient repair options.

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Or.... Your could take responsibility for yourself. Take it in and tell them that you spilled water on it and ask if there is anything they can do. They may be able to work out something with you. I would like to see your face when they take it apart and show you the LCI evidence of water spillage and see how they treat you then. Sorry to be anecdotal here, but my wife dropped her 2 week old iPhone4 in a full cup of decaf coffee. She took it into Apple to get a new phone, completely expecting to have to buy new one. The genius guy came back out in 5 minutes with a brand new phone. No charge. No hassle. It must have been a good karma day.

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Apple don't always reject warranty claims on devices that have tripped LCIs. If the product also has extensive corrosion and other evidence of liquid damage along with a positive LCI then they most certainly will. However, due to some bad press and lawsuits that they had filed against them, it's more of a grey area than ever. Particularly in the case of devices like the iPhone. For example a small drop of rain could have tripped the headphone jack LCI without actually contributing to a fault. There are many other factors to consider, but the general rule with Apple is that it's worth trying. –  macaco Aug 5 '11 at 14:49
    
It's also worth noting that you'll have alot less luck with AASP (Apple Authorised Service Providers) than with Apple themselves. This is because Apple thoroughly monitor and moderate the KBB (known bad board/module) returns from third party AASPs - looking for tripped LCIs, corrosion, etc. Apple, as always, retain control and only allow themselves to be the most flexible and provide the best customer experience. –  macaco Aug 5 '11 at 14:51

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