Clean MacBook Air—not!

Adel Gabot




I recently got a reasonably old MacBook Air—an 11″ Mid-2011 model, with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD—and I was planning to sell it.

It worked perfectly, save for a couple of keys that had the lettering on them almost rubbed off. The battery, which was five years old, still had 83% of its functionality, which was exceptionally good. It even had the original packaging. It should be a hit at the online store where I go to sell some of my stuff sometimes.

Thing was, it was grimy as hell.

So I went about giving it a good cleaning. That involved delicately “washing” it down with a barely damp toothbrush and cloth, using baby shampoo or dish cleaning fluid and a bit of water, then drying it with a lint-free cloth and allowing it to air out for a couple of hours before turning it on. That’s very important, because you have to allow every bit of moisture to dry up before you do.

Thing of it is, that particular kind of MBA has its power button integrated into the main keyboard, located where the backspace key normally would be, on the upper right corner. Also, the unit has the battery also integrated into its thin body; there’s no way to remove it, so there’s always a chance you could power up the thing without intending to.

As I was cleaning the keyboard and rubbing the keys with my barely damp toothbrush, I accidently hit the power button, and the damned thing powered up. I hit it again quickly to shut it down, but the damage was done.  The thing turned on, and unbeknownst to me, some circuits in the power key and a few others had shorted.

By the time the MBA was dry and I tried to turn it on, it was dead as a doornail. Didn’t even power up briefly to show it me it was still alive.


So yesterday morning, I brought it to the shop to see what could be done. There, they gave me the bad news.

A normal repair would involve replacing the whole top case, which was essentially the full innards of the MBA, and would cost an estimated P15k. Considering that amount was more than half of the selling price of the whole thing, that was out of the question.

The repairman told me he could try replacing just the keyboard and see if that would work, but he had to source one from other customers first, and it could cost around P5k. And it just might work, but it wasn’t a sure thing.

That’s better than the alternative. So I told him to go for it.

This morning he texted me the good news. It worked. He was still testing the thing, but it was apparently good to go.

The bad news was, it was going to cost me P6k. P5k for the keyboard, and P1k for the shop. Wowza. Still expensive. I told him to haggle with the owner of the keyboard first, maybe he’d agree to a lower price. (Of course I knew the shop was inflating the cost so they could get some extra for themselves, but they weren’t going to pull that one on me.)

We finally settled on P3K for the replacement keyboard. Plus the shop fee, I owed a total of P4k. Still a goodly amount, but I figured I’m escaping by the skin of my teeth. (The only bright spot of the whole thing is, those two rubbed-off keys are brand new again.)

I’m picking it up in the morning.

All for a desire to have a clean computer to sell. And this is the the thanks I get?


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