How To Clean a Logic Board

The logic board is to Macintosh computers what PC users call a “motherboard.” The logic board contains all the circuitry that makes a computer run. It houses the processor, memory, graphics adaptor and ports. This means that the logic board needs to be spic and span in order for a computer to be running properly.

Normally, logic boards do not need extensive cleaning, since it’s housed within your computer. In some extreme cases, however, you will need to take out your Mac’s logic board. For example, Macbooks are prone to spillage. The moment you spill liquid on your computer, this will eat into the circuitry. Even if you dry the computer completely before turning it back on, chances are the liquid would have started seeping into your logic board, and corrosion will start.

Technicians will advise that water spillage is comparatively safer than other liquids like soda or coffee, because the sugars and acids in those liquids will quickly eat into your logic board. Still, the moment you spill any liquid on your computer, you will have to worry about corrosion. Cleaning your logic board will usually be a last-ditch effort to save your computer. Cleaning a logic board is not for the faint-hearted, though. The difficulty will depend on whether you have a notebook computer or a desktop computer.

  • Prepare your materials. You will need your tools for opening your computer’s casing, which will depend on the model. Some Macs require three-pronged screwdrivers. Some will require a Torx screwdriver. Some will require other tools and implements. You will need denatured alcohol and a soft brush (a toothbrush will do). You will also need cloth for drying. A hairdryer also works. You will also need a container where the logic board will fit.
  • Open your computer’s housing. The difficulty will depend on the kind of Mac you are using. Most new Macs, particularly the unibody Macbooks and Macbook Pro, are clipped and glued in place. This means that you cannot simply open the computer to access the internal mechanisms. You will have to pry it open to gain access to the logic board. The same goes with Mac Minis, although these can easily be pried open using a putty knife. Older Macs and iMacs will have screws at the back, which you can open to access the logic board.
  • Remove the logic board from the computer. Once you are able to open the computer, disconnect all peripherals from the logic board completely. This includes the power supply, keyboard, pointing device, and video. Be sure to take note of which goes where, so you can easily return these after cleaning.
  • Submerge your logic board. Experts recommend that the best way to clean your logic board is to submerge it in the solution and leave it overnight. This ensures that the denatured alcohol will eat into any buildup of dirt and corrosion in the logic board. Afterwards, brush the surface thoroughly with a toothbrush and let it stay in the denatured alcohol for a few more hours.
  • Thoroughly dry the logic board. After cleaning, air dry your logic board. You can use your hair dryer to help speed up the process. Just be sure to use the cold setting, because using hot air might melt some components of the logic board. You can use a soft cloth to help remove excess moisture.
  • Reassemble your computer. Re-seat the logic board into its place and re-install all peripherals you have removed, such as connectors, memory modules, PRAM battery, and the like.

After reassembling your computer, try to turn it on and run it as you normally would. Any strange occurrences, like freezing, immediate shutoffs and slowdowns might be a sign that something went wrong with your logic board. Or, you might have plugged in some components loosely. Try re-seating these components first. If things are still not running smoothly, then you might have to have your logic board replaced.

Note that if your computer is still under warranty, it might be best to have it serviced or replaced by Apple. Sometimes, water damage might make it non-eligible for warranty, but if the cause isn’t too obvious, then they might fix the computer for free.


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