What Does a University Lecturer Do in the Summer?

MacBook Air Top Case

MacBook Air Top Case

It’s August. School starts in less than a month, but what’s a uni prof to do? Why, take apart a water-damaged MacBook Air of course!

I picked this thing up on Kijiji before heading out to Vancouver to shoot my web series. The seller told me he’d spilled water on his 2011 MacBook Air and wasn’t able to get it working, but he never opened it up and didn’t really seem to try. After reading up about fixing water-damaged MacBooks, I thought I’d give it a shot. The price was a cool $200, and after seeing how much similar laptops were selling on eBay, I figured if it didn’t work out, I could recoup most of my money selling it there. There was also another very important reason: I had never taken one apart before.

MacBook Air Battery

Many of the Air’s screws and the massive (for such a small laptop) battery.

Thanks to Apple’s penchant for exotic screws and parts, I wasn’t able to crack this sucker open till after I got back. To get at all that water-soaked silicon goodness, I needed a very small pentalobe screwdriver, which I ordered on eBay.

Logic Board

My copy of the Canadian Journal of Film Studies makes a great drying rack for the logic board…

Before leaving for my shoot, I noticed a few discrepancies. The MacBook Air isn’t a 2011 model, but a 2010. Speed-wise, the machines should be similar, but the 2010 lacked a few things: a Thunderbolt port and 4GB of ram. There was also a screw missing from the bottom case, which I found odd as the seller assured me he’d never opened it.

Doubtful over what I’d find inside (hopefully an SSD), I set off for a few weeks on the largest video project I’d ever written/directed. Weeks later, I was back home and eager to peer inside.

The computer doesn’t boot, but the power adapter lights up when it’s plugged in, so it’s receiving a charge. My initial thinking was that the keyboard was shorted and I’d probably need a new top case, which would be about a hundred bucks. Hopefully the logic board was okay, but I would take it apart and clean it for good measure.

MacBook Air Screen

The pieces of MacBook aren’t the only things cluttering my desk…

Back home, I grabbed my new pentalobe screwdriver and got to work. I was able to confirm the 128GB SSD drive was there (handy since those things alone are worth a pretty penny), and I also discovered how incredibly filthy the machine was. Dust had clogged up just about everything and there was a greasy residue on some components. It looked more like the guy spilled soy sauce on this thing than water.

Following a tear-down guide, I took the computer apart and found corrosion on the logic board. Using alcohol, q-tips and finally a kid’s toothbrush, I got it all off. I’m going to put it all back together now, so wish me luck!


About Ryan

I'm a writer-performer originally from Montreal, Canada where I performed stand-up and sketch comedy. These days I'm an Instructor in the New Media Department at the University of Lethbridge where I indulge in my fascination with creative media and technology. I've written and directed two web series and always seem to have a new project lined up. Busy is good.

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