4 laptop keyboard failure warning signs to look out for

Laptop keyboard problem is common. Problem with your laptop keyboard varies from jammed keys, some keys not working to complete keyboard failure. In this post, I’ll explain to you what causes laptop keyboards to fail, what problems your laptop keyboard may have, and repairs on laptop keyboards.

Keyboard repairs, especially for modern laptops, is usually to difficult for DIY at-home repairs. At the end of this post, if you still need professional computer repairs, drop us a message. We can repair keyboard for laptops, including Apple Mac.

What causes laptop keyboard failure?

Trapped dust and debris

The gaps between your laptop’s keys are where all kinds of dust and debris can get in. Because of how small these gaps are, the dust can stay trapped in there and potentially harm the keyboard that needs repairs.

Things like pieces of lint, or crumbs from eating right above the keyboard can get right into the keyboard and jam it up.

To be fair, keeping your laptop spotless at all times is pretty impossible. It’s natural to get a little dust in there, and your laptop would still work perfectly normal. But when it reaches a point where there is a lot of dust trapped inside, it could become a problem for the keyboard. An accumulation of dust could also cause other hardware problems like overheating and fan failure.

Moisture in the air

It’s common knowledge that liquids and electronics don’t mix. You probably already know not to use your laptop around the pool or in the bath.

But what about rooms with high humidity? You might not be aware about this, but the moisture in the air can sometimes affect your laptop’s keyboard. Just like dust, moisture can get trapped inside a laptop and get you in quite a bit of trouble. So just to be on the safe side, you might want to use your laptop in a cool and dry spot.

Physical damage and liquid spills

spilled red wine liquid

Physical damage is another thing that can kill laptop keyboards. These usually occur as accidents. You wouldn’t try to break your keyboard on purpose, would you?

Liquid spills are a very common cause for keyboard failures. Accidentally spilling your drink over your laptop can short out the keys and ruin the keyboard.

If it’s only a water spill, you might be able to use it as normal once it’s dried out completely. In other cases like sugary liquids or wine, it’s a little bit more tricky.

After drying, the sugar in these liquids will still remain between the keys, and inside the laptop. Corrosive liquids like beer and seawater do the worst damage, corroding the connective parts of the keyboard.

Neglect – laptop unused for an extended amount of time

In our computer repair experience, we’ve learnt that neglect can also frequently result in the failure of a laptop keyboard. Some cases of keyboard failure all share this observation: the laptop was neglected and not used for more than two months.

In these situations, users may just be using a different computer, or just primarily using their work laptops more often than their personal ones. Then when they take up their other laptop, they find that some keys are not working.

Often a customer came to me saying “I haven’t used my laptop for 2 months, then I took it out and some keys are not working.”

When this happens to you, you may wonder why the keyboard just fails for no reason. You may feel like you’re the only person who’s come across this issue. It’s just so strange, isn’t it?

But, I hear this every few weeks. It’s become the norm.

If you drive, you’d know that when your car sits in the garage unused for a few months, the next time you drive it, it’ll have problems. The battery may have gone flat. The tire may have gone flat. The steering wheel makes a weird noise and feels heavy. You may not even start the car.

It is the same with your computer.

What if it’s actually…?

Keyboard issues are generally hardware faults. They come from physical damage. Like any kind of computer hardware, laptop keyboards don’t last forever and will begin to fail at some point in the laptop’s lifetime.

Some may think it’s a software or driver issue, or even a possible computer virus, but it’s quite unlikely that those are the case. It could be a connection that’s come loose, but that’s rare.

As a piece of computer hardware, the keyboard will start showing signs of malfunction when it gets damaged. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to update your laptop’s drivers.

Now that we understand the different causes of keyboard failures, we can move onto the kinds of warning signs that you should look out for. These are some obvious and noticeable signs of keyboard failure that you may come across on your laptop.

4 Laptop keyboard failure warning signs to look out for

woman using macbook laptop and taking notes

1. Keys not working

This is pretty straightforward. You’ll notice certain keys don’t respond no matter how much or how hard you press them. Nothing comes out. This could be just a few keys or even a whole row of keys. It’s completely random and unpredictable.

2. Keys repeat itself

This type of malfunction happens when you press a key once and the output appears to be repeated many times. Say your F key is repeating itself. You could press it once and out comes “fffff”. It could get annoying when you’re trying to type emails or work on documents.

3. Keys come out with a different output

Another instance of a keyboard not working properly, this issue happens when you press one key and a different thing comes out. You could press the F key and the number 9 comes out. And then you’ll have to work around this quirk, keeping in mind to press which key for which thing until you can’t take it anymore.

4. Keys are jammed, or stuck

A laptop keyboard is a part with connective points and mechanical parts. Over a period of use, the keys can get jammed, just by wear and tear, or from external factors like dust and liquid spills.

Sugary liquids can cause the keys to stick together, and pieces of debris can jam the keys. So when you can’t seem to press down the keys, or notice that keys are stuck to its base, you know you have a problem.

5. Apple laptops are no exception

No doubt, Apple laptops are well built with premium quality. But its build quality does not help protect against dust and water spill.

Personally, I believe that Apple’s higher quality build does help reduce the damage of water and dust on its internal parts. But this comes purely from the fact that I’ve seen a higher chance of repair success rate on Apple laptops only.

Repairs on Apple laptops are more difficult due to their design, but (counter-intuitively) at the same time easier due to Apple spare parts are widely available in the market.

How can I be sure? Here’s how you can test your keyboard

If you have a spare external keyboard, use it to test whether your keyboard is indeed faulty. Plug in it, and test the keys that you usually have problems with. You’ll be able to confirm that your laptop’s keyboard is indeed faulty when everything works fine with the external keyboard. Then you’ll need to fix this internal problem.

So far, that’s the only way to test whether you have a keyboard failure. Pre-boot diagnostics won’t be able to test the part, and you don’t really need to open up the laptop to check things out.

Opening up a laptop just to see what’s going on when you can already confirm the problem can be unproductive to the problem at hand. This can also harm the laptop as well. That’s a common mistake that users make when they try to fix their computer by themselves. We try to only open up a laptop when we’re actually fixing the hardware, and not as a testing method.

How to fix a dead laptop keyboard

The tricky thing with laptop keyboards is, there’s no fix for only one specific faulty key. Even if one key is dead, the whole keyboard will need to be replaced.

If you see retailers selling individual keycaps for faulty keys, those won’t fix your problem as they are only cosmetic. With that said though, if your problem is merely a lost keycap that’s popped off, then sure, you can get an individual key cap fit back in easy as.

Keyboard repairs are known to be quite complicated, as the keyboard is usually hard to get to. When you open up the laptop to take the keyboard out, most of the time you’ll need to get through the motherboard to reach the keyboard.

The motherboard is a delicate piece of circuitry that takes experienced hands to deal with. If you’re not that confident in your tech repair skills, you might want to get it checked out by a professional.

Laptop keyboard is no longer easy-to-replace for consumers

Back in the early days of computers (the era of Windows XP to Windows 7), laptop keyboards were much easier to be replaced. You simply pop it up from the keyboard frame to install a new one.

Unfortunately, newer models of laptops, especially ultrabooks are no longer repair-friendly for end-users.

Since laptops are getting slimmer and more portable, manufacturers no longer make them easy to replace keyboards.

It’s certainly an improvement in terms of improving the laptop’s appearance, but it comes at a cost. Replacing the keyboard means the laptop battery, hard drive, fan, motherboard, etc have to be removed first before you can even get to the keyboard.

Not only that, most keyboards are fixed into the frame. After removing the broken keyboard, you’ll have a great deal of trouble securing the new one properly. You need lots of experience to do this.

Apple MacBook keyboards are incredibly difficult to replace

Incredibly difficult! Yes it is absolutely difficult to replace keyboards for Apple MacBook laptops ever since the butterfly keyboard design came out.

It is a painful, time-consuming challenge when it comes to replacing keyboards for Apple Mac laptops. You literally have to rip out, break every key in the old keyboard to remove the keys one by one.

There are no more screws to install a new keyboard either. You have to use super glue to help secure the new keyboard. Every mistake is costly and you’ll have to repeat the whole process again.

If your laptop has a keyboard problem, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll need a professional computer repairer to do it for you.

Getting your laptop repaired by a professional

computer hardware repair tools and components hard drives and motherboard

With how complex the process is with most laptop keyboard repairs, you might be turning to a more “hands-off” approach and hand it off to a professional. That’s where we can help!

At Safemode Computer Service, we are always happy to help with any computer issue, from Macbook butterfly keyboard repairs to Windows PC hard drive failures. We are located in Enmore, conveniently in the Inner West of Sydney.

With our highly-rated services and our friendly technicians, trust us to diagnose and fix your computer issues expertly. Call us today or come down to our Enmore store today!