Is This Computer Water Damaged? Circuit City Says Yes

Robert bought an extended warranty from Circuit City, but they won’t honor it to repair his broken computer because they claim it has water damage. Robert writes, “As God is my witness, this computer has never seen water,” and he sent us the photos Circuit City sent him.

I purchased a Sony Notebook computer from Circuit City and added the CityAdvantage extended warranty when I paid for it. One day it died and would not power up so I sent it in. They sent the computer back to me and denied the repairs stating that the computer shows signs of water damage.

This was April 2008 so I contacted CityAdvantage and the repair center, they said they would email photos of the alleged water damage. I waited 2 months and never received the photos so I contacted them again in June 2008, once again they said they would email photos proving water damage and once again I did not receive them.

In Sept 2008, I contacted them again and requested the photos but this time the person was very helpful and had me hold while they took care of the request to make sure it was done right. That night I received the photos and I am shocked that they are claiming this is water damage. To me it appears to be some type of electrostatic dust attraction rather than water damage. There isn’t a single dried up water droplet anywhere!

The type of damage they are claiming would mean that I literally submerged the computer in water. If I had been careless enough to spill water on it, it certainly would not look like this. Just to be sure, I ran the photos by every IT/computer tech geek I could find and all of them said that it is not water damage. Water damage shows up as dried up water spots, calcium deposits, corroded terminals, etc. The circuit board is clean, and as hard as they looked, they could not find a single dried up water droplet either.

As God is my witness, this computer has never seen water. I have a feeling this is a scam to deny warranty claims on computers they can’t repair or are too costly to repair. Here is a link to a similar story.

We’re not sure the link is much help, because it doesn’t have enough details about the “water damage” claim and there are no pictures. But Robert has plenty of pictures of his allegedly damaged computer, which we’ll share below. What’s your opinion? Does water damage ever look like this, or is Circuit City in the wrong?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Parting says:

    Funny, I’ve never seen anything like that on any of my old CPUs.

    Did you try getting a second opinion from another technician?

  2. Crymson_77 says:

    That looks like the marks made by the cleaning solution used on the parts prior to shipping them for assembly. No, that is not water damage. Talk to your credit card company and ask what options you have, including whether or not you can chargeback this item.

    • zentex says:

      @Crymson_77: you are 100% correct, I’ve seen these marks many times on brand new equipment.

      • @zentex: I don’t think that this is from either water or a cleaning solution. I would agree with Robert that it looks like electrostatic dust collection. That would be something that should easily rub off. Also, what does this surface make contact with? Does the other side show identical markings?

    • blackmage439 says:

      @Crymson_77: I concur. It almost looks like residue from some alcohol-based cleaner, which wouldn’t be surprising to find on a factory-assembled part.

      Crap City is just parading this guy around. He should take this up the chain of command at Sony (this includes an EECB). If that doesn’t work, if he bought the computer with a credit card, they may be able to help. Finally if all else fails, sue in small claims court. If he has signed testimony from every computer geek he knows, swearing that isn’t water/liquid damage, he should have an easy time.

  3. parad0x360 says:

    That looks like rubbing alcohol streaks to be honest but the way its marked up around that fan vent does suggest some type of liquid.

    Of course seeing it in person is probably different. What exactly is wrong with the computer, no power at all? If it died because liquid got into the PSU it would smell burnt due to the short. If it doesnt then chances are liquid isnt the problem.

  4. azntg says:

    Funny, my built-at-home computer would have similar “wet” spots showing throughout the case too. Yes, it was sitting there (with the case completely closed) during cool and humid days too, but otherwise, nobody has ever spilled water on it.

    Methinks that the warrantor is trying to duck out of honoring. Explore other options.

  5. as a computer technician, I can say that it appears to have been a liquid – I can’t say for certain it was water – in fact, I’d bet against it. It looks like a cleaning solution of some sort (possibly plain old rubbing alcohol) was used in excess on this computer. I’m not saying it was the OP, but someone tried to give this computer an overzealous cleaning.

  6. Phreggs says:

    That would be environmental “damage”, or rather caused most likely due to humidity.

    Some service plans will not cover your system due to such damage, because you are not supposed to operate notebooks or desktop systems in such environments. You would have to check with the manual as to what the operating environment is – as that will list the proper temperature and moisture levels the system can remain in. The moisture/humidity levels should be marked so that it shouldnt damage your system.

    So it very well could be classified as “water damage” by a complete idiot of a technician. Humidity is nothing deliberate and most people dont even realize it can do that.

    50/50 here.

  7. esd2020 says:

    IBM has a sticker under the keyboards that changes color when damp. If that thing is the wrong color, it’s basically impossible to get warranty service. They don’t care how humid it is where you live, or whether there actually is any water damage, or whether water could even conceivably have caused the problem you’re describing.

  8. nuttish says:

    That looks more like signs of a liquid evaporating rapidly, like excessive propellant from a duster can or parts cleaner from building the machine, than water damage. I cannot see from the photos whether there is similar staining on other parts? In other words, if the stains end at the edge of those porous plastic sheets without continuing on to parts underneath or nearby, Circuit City’s claim seems suspiciously convenient. Get your computer back, have it repaired on your own, and file a small claims lawsuit against the warranty company for what it cost.

    • kadath217 says:

      @nuttish: That was exactly my first reaction too, especially since the patterns look more like a spray than a wipe. Like many others have said, this could be from anywhere, I’ve seen many new and almost-new PCs that looked like this. I don’t see any of the telltale corrosion that would be from excess moisture.

  9. rtwigg says:

    Stickers that change color can also be found in Verizon cell phones either on the battery or the case itself.

    • Phreggs says:

      @rtwigg: Tmobile uses the stickers now too. Found that out just a few weeks ago with my wife’s phone when the lcd died within warranty.

      • Parting says:

        @Phreggs: All cellphone manufactures use those stickers. While they don’t automatically mean, that the water what killed the phone, but it’s a very good indicator.

        (As far as I know, lg still opens the phone, and it the problem is under warranty, they will still repair the warranty pieces. I can’t say anything for other manufactures, if they assume out of warranty, or they still double check…)

    • jwissick says:

      @rtwigg: All cell phones use them. The iPhone’s is in the bottom of the headphone jack.

    • LesterGaze says:

      @rtwigg: Cover those moisture-sensitive stickers up with a piece of tape to be safe. And remember to remove the tape before you return your phone for service.

  10. A piece of advice for the OP, or anyone else in this situation: If you’re buying a pc from circuit city, best buy, or any other retail chain, avoid their extended warranties. If your computer breaks down, you can almost certainly find a local repairman or shop who will fix your PC for less than you would have paid for the warranty. Every company that offers extended warranties also spends a lot of time thinking about how to get out of honoring them. There are often clauses in the warranty that invalidate the warranty if your damage is caused during what most consumers would consider normal use.

    • @What The Geek: Sorry guy… you mentioned above that you are a tech, and that means you should know how untrue this can be in the case of many laptop repairs. Major laptop repairs can easily clear $500 and even a keyboard replacement easily clears $200 after labor on many models.

      I wouldn’t be buying a warranty on a desktop computer, but it is something worth considering on any laptop–or, for that matter, on most portable devices with moving parts.

      • @XianZhuXuande: if you know where to get the parts, a laptop repair doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. I’ve been doing this for a long time – I know where to get the parts.

      • zsta2k7 says:

        @XianZhuXuande: keyboard replacement costing $200?

        I basically manage a local computer chain around Grand Rapids, Michigan. We just replaced a keyboard on a Dell Inspiron E1505 for $85 labor included. We are currently in the process of doing a motherboard, hard drive, and OS reload on a Compaq Presario V2000 series laptop for under $400. It’s rather hard to get any repair over $500 if you find a decent shop.

        • cosby says:

          @zsta2k7: Really depends on the computer. Dell usually has cheap keyboards on their notebooks from my experience but I’ve seen shop cost on keyboards be over 100 bucks. Add labor and markup and yea 200 dollar keyboard repairs can happen. Most are less. Also depends on how rare the part is. Toshiba had a big issue with failing video cards a few years ago in notebooks where the card was 400 to 600 bucks used if you could find one. Toshiba wanted like 220 or something for it with an exchange if they managed to dig one up.

    • SpitfireM1 says:

      @What The Geek: I’m also a technician, and while I don’t normally agree with extended warranties for most products, laptops are another story. I wouldn’t recommend getting any laptop other than a low-end system without accidental damage protection unless you have the means readily available to be able to pay for expensive repairs or replace the machine if necessary or have a substitute readily available (basically, self-insure.)

      Laptops are subject to all sorts of environmental factors that increase the likelihood of an expensive repair many times over that of a desktop machine. Not only that, but the protection generally can be had for the usable life of the machine and will generally cover more than one repair if necessary, though YMMV.

      I have experience working with both Dell and IBM/Lenovo’s laptop protection programs and have found both to be very valuable.

    • Teapotfox says:

      @What The Geek: I dunno about that, AppleCare is pretty sweet, and it will even cover multiple items if you buy it when you purchase them all (AirPort cards and base stations, Time Capsule, SuperDrive, RAM, etc…).

  11. chrisjames says:

    It doesn’t look like water damage, but that definitely looks like moisture of some kind got in there. Unless it looks different in the photos (totally possible), then your tech friends should have assumed the same thing. I see this all the time, not just on computer cases inside and out, but any surface that’s had small amounts of moisture on it.

    The real question should be is that enough moisture to even cause any damage. Very likely not. It looks like small streaks accumulating over a long time, especially around the, I’m assuming, fan inlet. A very slow staining would do that, like tiny amounts of water, or any liquid, in a hot enclosed space. Tiny amounts of moisture, on the level of moderate humidity, would not only be unlikely to kill your computer, but should not void your warranty regardless.

    Well, I guess there are factors that could make it more likely to be the cause of water damage, but it’s ridiculous that they’d rule it a drowning on the basis of some common moisture stains.

  12. microbreak says:

    Looks like some type of liquid damage to me as well. I agree with the overdose of “isopropyl alcohol” hypothesis.

  13. cmdrsass says:

    I agree that the discoloring is due to a solvent of some kind. There is probably some minute corrosion on the board.

  14. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I agree that it looks more like the residue from some quickly-evaporating solvent like alcohol or contact cleaner. I’ve also had duster cans where towards the end of the can the propellant came out very cold and caused moisture to condense on nearby surfaces as frost.

    The telltale sign would be the PC board…any amount of moisture on PC traces or solder joints shows up as a fuzzy greenish corrosion (which will eventually eat through the copper traces). So, if the computer were “water damaged,” it would be evident on the mainboard or daughter boards. If there’s no damage to the PC boards, I don’t see how they can logically deny warranty claims on the unit.

  15. eh_remraf says:

    This looks to be like the work of Mirco Medics and GE’s Assurrant who try to find anything to deny warranty work on a computer. I’ve had several computers go out and later get denied for no apparent reason and then have to escalate the claim for the customer in order to get it resolved. To me, it looks like rubbing alcohol.

  16. The water damage theory is blown out the window by the lack of corrosion on the exposed metal parts in the photos.

    I’d do what the others have suggested and search for satisfaction through the credit card company, or even legal action.

    The burdon of proof is on them…

    • nuttish says:

      @admiral_stabbin: Unfortunately, if this guy files a small claims case, which I would recommend, the burden is on him. As an attorney who helps consumers with all kinds of financial issues, I can assure you that, where most people believe companies have some burden to come up with good reasons to turn claims like this down, they do it all the time and there’s not much even a lawyer can do about it in a corrupt legal system like Cook County, Illinois. I’ve filed lawsuits against auto warranty companies that made people pay thousands to have their engines disassembled and inspected only to deny warranty claims, and insurance companies that came up with objectively false excuses for not honoring legit claims. The results have been hit or miss, despite overwhelming evidence that these companies had cheated their customers and the courts.

      That said, don’t give up! File your case and go for it. Hope you don’t live in Chicago!

  17. Elijah86 says:

    I have seen that many times before on laptops of mine. that is no water damage.

  18. 54r93 says:

    I can understand why someone who is retarded at computers would think that might be water damage…but you’d think the people they PAY to fix computers would know the difference…It’s definitely a scam on their part…

  19. AstridGabs says:

    I’ve had a run in with the people from The CityAdvantage program. I’ll never buy another extended warranty again from them.

    Try contacting the Manager from the Circuit City you purchased the notebook from. In my case they were able to give me a different phone number to call and I actually dealt with a human being that was helpful.

    It was painful but I was able to get reimbursed for the defective hard drive I had.

  20. ogremustcrush says:

    It very much looks like that was how the parts came from the factory. It looks like a residue from possibly a cleaning solution, but it doesn’t have the look of something that could occur after the system was assembled whatsoever. I agree with one of the above posters that I too haves seen brand new parts that have this sort of look to them, they just aren’t as careful about making the stuff you don’t see look good. Frankly I would say that looks more like some sort of heat distortion than any water damage. Trust me, you can usually tell when something has had water in it.

  21. BondJBond says:

    Yes, that is INDEED liquid Damage (the tech that said water is Irresponsible)

    Picture number 3 shows very clear liquid, and photo 2 shows possible corrosion or rust, hard to tell for sure in photo however

    • @BondJBond: All of the holes in the PCB have a similar color…that’s not rust.
      Rust forms on metal…the PCB is non-conductive, thus, not metal. Notice the screw in the upper-tight of photo 3…and the metal that it’s screwed down to. No rust…and it’s made of metal…

    • CSUSam says:

      Talk to the store manager where you bought it, and possibly district. Most of the time that is all done through the warranty company, but they CAN do in-store City stuff. As always, be firm but polite and you may get some help, depending on the manager.

  22. komodork says:

    it isnt water. If it was water, you would be seeing crisp round egdes rather than sharp pointy edges. water would is polar and attracts other water molecules so you wouldn’t have a blog in one place and a very small distance away, they would of come together

  23. vastrightwing says:

    Rule of thumb: do not buy extended warranties. Not from Circuit city, Best Buy, Sears, or anyone. All the warranties do is to guarantee that the retailer selling them gets your money. And for that, they work just great!

  24. the-wanderer says:

    I’ve taken apart more Dell laptops than I care to admit, (easily 200+), and I’ve NEVER seen anything like that that was part of normal construction…

    I don’t know if it was water or not, but it sure looks like something was spilled in there. I’d have to see the actual laptop to be sure, but…..

  25. AzaleaMilda says:

    I’ve seen this before, it’s the cleaning solution they use on the laptop case before assembly to remove and repel dust, this is NOT water damage at all, water damage would leave mineral deposits and of course rust in certain areas… this is yet another scam from useless buffoons at retail stores in which the customer is paying with frustration. To the OP, I hope you get this sorted out, you can always sue and hit them where it hurts.

  26. ironchef says:

    possible condensation.

  27. Not water damage. A bunch of us engineers at work took apart an odometer (no way it could have ever gotten wet where it lives inside the dash) and saw similar markings inside the plastic. We concluded electrostatic dust deposits, the patterns possibly caused by the flow lines in the plastic. The lines around the round fan hole in pic 4 look just the same.

  28. Robert123888 says:

    Here’s the deal guys, the computer in question is mine. I used this computer for a few months while traveling between offices. It has never seen water and it has never been outside of CA so humidity is not an issue. Accidental water damage is not even a remote possibility here and no solvents of any type have ever been used on the computer. However, it has been in storage in a laptop bag in my den for several months. I used it on and off without issue and one day it simply would not power on. Based on the humidity comments posted previously, is it possible that this is simply humidity from being placed on my lap? This might sound funny but I used this computer for hours on end with it sitting on my lap and it did get VERY hot at times during normal operation. Is it possible that this could be a source of humidity? In that case, using a laptop on your lap is not exactly strange or unusual. I have dealt with this issue over a period of 6 months and simply want to get to the bottom of this. I paid $1300 for the computer and to add insult to injury, I paid $269.99 for this extended warranty.

  29. EverettKollina says:

    I would say no. That’s not water damage. I’ve seen similar patterns in tons of hardware that has heat and fans, and that’s been turned on a good deal of the time. Circuit City is definitely trying to get over, so I’d just complain until you get satisfaction. Most companies just hope you’ll go away, so eventually you’ll be victorious. ;)

  30. DeborahJackal says:

    High Humidity: yes
    Damage: Need better pictures.

    I see no computer parts “damaged” in those pictures. I see rubber/plastic insulators with some kind of residue. The grounding circles in picture 2 looks like there could be corrosion, but I wouldn’t say that they’re the complete cause of problem with the computer.

    Bottom line is, those pictures do not show damage to ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS in enough detail for anyone to rule that this computer has been damaged by liquid.

  31. maztec says:

    I have seen steam damage look like that….

  32. SigmundHylas says:

    You know if your computer just wouldn’t boot suddenly, with or without battery, it was probably in a deep sleep mode. Pulling the battery to the bios would reset this.

    Did the service pull the whole computer apart and never try this? I’ve seen it happen on a VAIO before.

    They probably couldn’t figure out the problem and didn’t want to look stupid for their manager.

  33. andy966 says:

    I have to agree with those saying humidity. Looks like there was some humidity that creeped in through the fans and vents. If you live in a naturally humid area, this is probably what happens.

  34. gregcuc says:

    It doesn’t look like liquid. I’ve been working with electronics for years and see that dust pattern on most laptops. It seems like certain plastics get that look to it. maybe its from residue from manufacturing, but not really water. Water would make clumpy dust areas, not thin dust streams. Actually, i saw something very very similar a few days ago when i replaced the filters on my fan. the inside plastic case which is white, showed the black dust just like that. Claim it on your credit card… or kick the tech where it counts and run.

  35. phate says:

    The OP is correct that is most likely not water. It is however something, and I’m fairly sure its what caused the problem. I’d fathom a guess that since the places where there are pictures are places that 1) get hot and 2) also collect dust I’d almost bet its canned air. The stuff rocks when used correctly but methinks in your case it was not. those marks on the case are identical to those left by the can o’ air liquid when it gets sprayed on the object as a liquid or mist instead of just a gaseous vapor that it normally is. I’m guess either the system was getting to hot while in use or the OP (or someone with access to the system) just wanted to clean the vents and did it wrong and sprayed the system with canned air and that is what is causing the No Power/No POST issue. Its also possible that that is an Oil probably from a cleaning solution.

    Not not having the system in hand to verify in person, I can’t be certain. However being a Dell Tech Support Agent, I can promise you if this came across my work bench, I would have said Warranty Void and moved on (unless you had complete care.)

  36. lol_wut says:

    Is it possible that the OP had some sort of hardware fault other than a liquid getting into the computer at some point? Then, when taken in for repair / service under warranty the techs cleaned out the machine using canned air – either while shaking or just after shaking the can – causing the spray?

    Just as someone else stated before – the burden of proof would fall on CC to prove that the PC is not working due to water damage. I would take the path of least resistence and see if you can perform a charge back through the credit card company and get a new machine sans warranty.

  37. thrsnospoon says:

    I’m going to have to say that looks like you took compressed air and instead of doing it in short bursts, like you’re supposed to, held the trigger continuously and just moved it around.

    Compressed air is liquid in the container and upon decompression is extremely cold. This would cause “water” spots.

    • MrEvil says:

      @thrsnospoon: Air dusters have no air in them. They have a gas that liquifies at a relatively low pressure. Compressed air in a can would run out rather quickly. Most dusters have something like R134a in them or some form of isopropane.

  38. Hockeypuck says:

    It could be liquid damage, but I’ve seen that pattern plenty of times when circuitry blows out.

    It’s the same kind of pattern that shows up when a power supply blows up on an iMac.

  39. crazypants says:

    Maybe the OP could politely request that the repair center send over photos of other laptops that they’ve encountered in the past that have been confirmed to have been damaged by water, that way he can contrast and compare with a tech over the telephone.

    You could also politely request that a second or senior technician re-diagnose the issue from scratch.

    Remember, BE POLITE! Don’t be a smarmy jerk to the techs.

    Personally, I don’t see how this could have been caused by water. (What sort of symptoms did you encounter that led to you sending it off for repair?)

    Dispute the charge via your credit card and they will simply send you off to a collection agency. I wouldn’t pursue this route if you care about your credit score.

  40. HosannaCornutus says:

    This same thing happened to me years ago at best buy, my first laptop i ever bought. All of a sudden laptop wouldnt boot, took it in since i had a warranty and they tell me 2 weeks later its water damage and now i owe them money for looking at it. Pretty shady since i never spilled water or any other liquid on my laptop.

  41. smokinfoo says:

    The proper reaction to them telling you it has water damage is:

    “What!?! Did one of your technicians spill something on my laptop?”

    It helps if you sound exasperated for extra effect.

    I accidentally spilled my “water” pipe on my dell laptop once. The technician that came to my house said it looked like water damage, but he didn’t care because he didn’t work for Dell. He had it shipped back for me. I get a call a few days later from Dell saying that my laptop appeared to have water damage. I reacted as described above and they fully refurbished the model.

    Am I a good consumer? no, but this was about the fourth time I had to get the unit repaired because of other faults so I felt a bit entitled.

  42. RichasB says:

    As a Firedog tech, I can say that I’ve seen people bring in Laptops that have been PURPOSELY destroyed and stomped on (and I am being serious) that have still been replaced under the Circuit City accidental warranty plan.
    Although, if he did not get accidental warranty (just the basic extended plan), then I don’t think they would cover this because that laptop seems to have some sort of liquid damage. I wouldn’t say water, maybe humidity or some other chemical. I don’t care what deity he swears to, I wouldn’t cover it either.

  43. Ouze says:

    as a computer technician, I’m inclined to call it water damage as well, specifically like water damage that was attempted to be “repaired” by using denatured alcohol to clean up. I’m not blaming the OP, maybe they did it.

    However, from these pics I wouldn’t give such a diagnosis if someone’s money mattered on it – too inconclusive. I’d like to see more pictures in higher res, and of the motherboard and components, not random inconclusive pics of the laptop shell.

  44. NightSteel says:

    I honestly can’t tell much from those pictures. I mean, the patterns or deposits or whatever we’re seeing look like they could be the remnants of liquid, but there are plenty of other plausible explanations too, as other commenters have pointed out. Really, in the absence of one of the also-aforementioned ‘water dots’, there’s no way to be sure. You can bet, though, that the warranty company will not honor the warranty once someone has made the determination that your unit was water damaged.

    I imagine that you’ve had the computer for awhile. The chargeback deadline has probably passed, so it looks like your only options here are 1) small claims court, or 2) harass the store/warranty provider into providing you a replacement. That is, go back to that store, tell them that you will stand on the sidewalk out front with a huge sign describing how they are not honoring their obligations unless they make it right for you, and then do it, if they call you on it.

    This is why, as an IT professional, I always recommend three things, when it comes to extended warranties. 1) Never purchase an extended warranty sold in a retail store. Whether or not you get good service is a roll of the dice. 2) Do purchase extended warranties direct from the manufacturer. In most cases, these are simply extensions of the factory warranty, and use the same processes and repair facilities, which are far more likely to provide you with good service. 3) Especially in the case of laptops, purchase your extended warranty with accidental damage protection. You probably never will drop or spill something on your computer, but you might. And even if you never do, ADP will prevent the manufacturer from weaseling out of a repair with a bogus ‘water damage’ excuse. The peace of mind is worth the extra hundred bucks.

    Given these three things, I believe it’s safe to say that electronics from a manufacturer that doesn’t offer its own extended warranties are not worth buying, as well.

    I know this doesn’t help the submitter much, but someone else could benefit. Good luck getting the service you deserve, Robert.

  45. vorpal_hamster says:

    Oh my, there seem to be a lot of “computer technicians” weighing in. In my professional opinion (I get paid to do this) I have seen the exact same patterns inside everything from robot controllers to televisions. It isn’t water damage, it is simply static charged particles sticking to the inner surfaces.

    Pay a little bit of money to an independent shop for a second opinion, take your before pictures, clean the surfaces with cloth dampened in isopropyl alcohol and take new pictures with the independent technician as a witness. Take this info and clobber Circuit City.

    Water spots won’t come off without a substantial amount of elbow grease, whereas the static tracks will wipe right off.

  46. Quatre707 says:

    This article title is not exactly accurate. The laptop was determined to have “water damage” by a 3rd party contracted repair company, which is hired by the insurance company that underwrites the extended warranty plans that are sold at Circuit City. The insurance company is the only who denied the claim, under all the small print within the bullshit warranties.

    The lesson here is to never buy extended warranties.

    (I’ve had the horrible job of being the communications channel between these insurance companies and their repair centers for several years, for two competing retailers. I’ve also sold them to people for those years.)

    If you are the kind of person who takes comfort in insuring your consumer electronics, you should contact non-retail insurance companies, like State Farm’s personal article policies, and many others, or buy it directly from the manufacturer, they are generally quite competitive to insure their own products, even if you’ve purchased them at a retail store.

  47. BeeBoo says:

    Apparently this is a common rip-off.

    WinBook did this to me under the regular warranty even though they admitted that the problem that needed to be fixed was totally unrelated to any water damage, assuming that there really was water damage, which there wasn’t. They offered to send me pics but I told them to forget it.

    So decided to finally switch to Apple and have never looked back.

  48. CiroCrete says:

    A couple years ago I spilled a ton of coffee ALL over my tiny Thinkpad X40, and it was dribbling out everywhere as I tried to save all my open files. I had the standard mail-in warranty and called IBM, telling them exactly what happened. Support said it wasn’t covered but they could take a look and give me price for repair, likely around $900.

    The next day I received a return overnight DHL box and a week later I was clacking away on the new keyboard they kindly replaced along with the motherboard/CPU (soldered to save room, $$). No charge for anything.

    It’s a hackintosh now and I don’t mind that it occasionally smells like cheap coffee.

    *I’m only a customer.

    Also my nostalgia led me to thinkwiki and I found this
    That’s _exactly_ what happened (though I was too cheap for the optional ‘levitation’).

  49. Ouze says:

    @vorpal_hamster: “Oh my, there seem to be a lot of “computer technicians” weighing in. In my professional opinion (I get paid to do this)”

    I hope you recognize both the irony and the fallacy of attempting to belittle the opinions of other techs while trying to bolster your own comment with *the exact same comment*. It seemed pretentious to include my actual job title, but i assure you “i also get paid to do this” and have for many years.

    I also seriously doubt that if a retail store voids your warranty, taking it to some other computer store and getting a second opinion, if different, would make any difference at all, whatsoever, end stop. I can’t imagine having HP refuse a warranty for their finding of water damage, having you say “well, Dell said it wasn’t” and HP going oh, ok then. Here’s a new laptop.

    This would be valuable advice only if you were going to sue, and i don’t think any retail stores sell a laptop off the shelf that’s financially worthwhile to litigate over.

  50. Ouze says:

    @BeeBoo – “So decided to finally switch to Apple and have never looked back. “
    Yes, because after all, if you google “apple refuses warranty water damage”, you get zero results.

    Oops. Actually you get over thirty thousand.

  51. Jeezus, all you amateur sleuths. “Oooooh! Water damage!”

    This isn’t anything more than condensation. And just give the guya new goddamned computer – by the time ny tier of customer relations has spent two hours on the phone with him, the company is is in the tank; they might as well mail out a replacement CPU with an attendant contract to prevent suit over the settlement.

    Wimps People who are stupid about the law really drive the rest of us nuts.

  52. I’m not a jump-to-conclusions PMITHA Federal representative, but I’m laughing my behing off at the “OMG this is TEH WATER!!!!” folks – who apparently have never cleaned a window in the south. Ever.

    That’s OK. They’re wrong, and proving it to everyone. Nice job, frakkers!

  53. Nakko says:

    That is not even necessarily from any form of liquid. Maybe that’s just how that material looks when they pull it out of the mold. (Juuuuust after that material was probably liquid, hmmmmaybe?)

  54. SidusNare says:

    I am a computer tech, and I immediately recognized this pattern. These panels before they are installed at the factory have a protective layer of plastic loosely adhered to them to prevent damage to them. Like I said loosely, and when they are left in a hot warehouse for a time the plastic wrinkles and leaves a faint mark where it is still attached. Water damage on these kind of panels are usually circular or follow the outline of neighboring components. Also water typically leaves the bare contacts discolored (with a whitish powder of corroded tin / aluminum). If there is water damage in this computer there would be other more obvious indications, these photos do not prove watter damage.

  55. Josh_G says:

    I’ve said it before, but I would never buy a computer via a third party (like BB, CC, Wal-mart, etc). Always buy the brand computer you want through the company that makes it and that will drastically cut down on your problems getting warranty work done.

  56. MrEvil says:

    Water damage? On the UNDERSIDE of the board? What BS. Especially since all they can show us is residue on the plastic insulators. They’d have to do alot better to convince me of water damage, like corroded contacts on a Circuit board. The only way water was going to get underneath the main board is if the system was dropped in standing water, and that would leave ALOT more evidence behind.

    All this is is a bullshit cop-out from Circuit City.

  57. DashTheHand says:

    Dunno if its been mentioned since I hate sifting through the hundreds of embedded comments, but it looks like the residue that a canned air duster can leave behind if the person is careless and lets some of the liquid shoot directly out of the can (usually because they are shaking the can while they are using it or holding it incorrectly).

  58. Chairman-Meow says:

    That’s condensation from excessive use of “Dust-Off” compressed air. The longer you hold the nozzle open, the pressure drops in the can causign frost to build-up on the outside. The air coming out is chilled to the point where it is pulling moisture out of the air. The dope who worked on it likely sprayed tons on the machine to remove the dust.

    It’s not water-damaged at all. Bring it back to the drones and tell them to fix the damn machine “right” this time.

    God, I truly hate the morons they hire at these places as “computer experts”. On the plus side, I get all kinds of tasty stuff and cash from people who bring me their computers afterthey deal with these companies.

  59. adamkantor says:

    I think the repair depot it trying to get out of a warranty repair here.

    Any water damage I have ever seen on computers usually results in some form of calcified edge where the water was (or maybe we just have really hard water in our area). We had a water pipe burst above one of our computers last year, luckily the power was off to the rack, and the computer died out, and has been working ever since.

    That being said, from my experience water doesn’t specifically kill hardware, water combined with electricity does.

  60. wellfleet says:

    Disclaimer: I worked at Geek Squad and am a manager at Best Buy.

    This is a close call, OP, as you can tell by the disagreement among the more tech-y readers of your post. It’s difficult to tell from the pictures. I’ve seen this type of marking on both spilled-on computers AND just dirty ones. Take to another CC, have them send it again. It will be taken in by a different tech at their service center and you may get a different resolution.

    That said, I have heard many a “I’ve never spilled anything” story and it turned out the boyfriend/roommate/brother did spill something and kept mum. One funny instance when I pulled the HDD out to show the client after she swore up and down and there was caramelized Coke inside… Mmmmm…

    Partner with a store manager, if you’re super nice and it helps of you’re a loyal customer, you may get some sympathy.

  61. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Sorry for your luck… but buying extended warranty is just not worth the money or time.

    Take that money put it in a jar, label it warranty repairs and place the jar on a high shelf in your kitchen cupboard. Add the extended warranty money for everything you buy that has the option of extended warranty and quickly you will have enough in the jar to cover your own warranty repairs… and likely much more too.

    I continue to advise my clients not to bother with the extended warranty the stores pressure them to buy. It is well known to be almost 100% profit for them because it doesn’t offer the customer any real or claimable protection.

  62. erratapage says:

    Question: In the case of a company trying to get out of a warranty repair, would it be possible to get the repair done by a reputable geek and send the company the bill?

  63. Adisharr says:

    The copper pads look oxidated but otherwise there is no evidence of water damage.

  64. chumleyex says:

    No one ever spills anything on their computer and no one ever smashes their screen.

  65. narkelo says:

    I used to work as a technician in CompUSA, and i’ve taken apart TONS of notebooks with and without liquid damage and this is most definitely NOT liquid damage.
    i’ve seen these kinds of markings on machines all the time. even new ones right out of the box.
    What everyone else is saying is true thoug, those extended warranties are a joke…

  66. narq says:

    If the device was not on or plugged in when it came into contact with said water, water would not cause damage to the device. It could be that the device was not properly cleaned at the factory. I’m sure some parts of the system has labels like stickers on them. You would clearly be able to tell damage from those. You would likely also see caked on dust from it getting wet and then drying.

    I’m going to say your system is not water damaged. Of course, this is just my opinion from blurry images. Seeing it in person might be different.

  67. mariospants says:

    Looks like someone tried to damp up some kind of liquid with a towel or cloth and maybe a vacuum cleaner as well. Definitely got wet at some point.

    Funnily, the first image almost looks like someone with a very sweaty complexion smushed their face up against the board.

  68. jimjones124 says:

    This is what I would recommend you do. Get a second opinion, take the laptop to a circuitcity, ask them to open it up and show you personally where the water damage is. Ask them to match the picture with your laptop. Also, try to talk to the store director, MOST of the time, the store director usually helps out as much as possible in situations like this. Work like this is contracted to a third party IT team.

  69. technopimp says:

    I made a mistake (actually, several many years ago) of a) Buying a laptop from Circuit City and b) buying the extended warranty. During its lifespan (while I was in college), the mechanism which held in the battery and CD-ROM broke which meant if you picked it up both would fall out. I took it in to get it serviced, they took it from me, kept it two weeks, then called me when it was “ready”. When I picked it up it was exactly the same. I asked why it wasn’t repaired, they said it was because they do not ‘cover damage caused by the consumer’, and they had decided that I had caused this “damage” myself. I told them there was no way I could have caused this damage, and they said that the decision by their service department was final, and basically I was now forfeiting my warranty.

  70. VolettaGoat says:

    This is not water damage. The black surface you see is Mylar and what you see on it is just it heating up over time. I worked with this material when I repaired servers and that’s the marks you see all the time because of heat. Water damage would look like there are white dried up calcium deposits like he said in the article. This is for a fact not water damage from my own personal experience over and over again.