How to Save Your Phone from Water Damage

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 02:58 -- mark

Have you ever accidentally dropped your cell phone (or any electronic device) in the sink, or even worse... the toilet? Did you leave it in your pocket and run it through the washing machine and at times it's possible that your friends dunked you in a swimming pool just for the fun of it? Did you get beaten by the rain or did you forget and go swimming with your cell phone in your pocket? Getting your cell phone wet usually means you have to replace it, but sometimes if you're fast enough, you might be able to save the phone! Follow the steps outlined in this article to try and save your wet cell phone.

1. Take the phone out of the water as soon as possible. There are lots of ports and holes for liquid to get into, so you will need to act quickly.  Grab your phone and turn it off immediately, as leaving it on can cause it to short circuit – if it has been in water, assume it is waterlogged whether it is still working or not. If possible the best option is to remove the battery (Sorry Apple users, not an option for you).

2. Your phone may not be too damaged if you take it out of the water right away. A longer period of immersion, such as being in the washing machine cycle, is more cause for alarm. It is still worth trying the following steps to attempt saving the phone, before giving up.

3. After removing the phone from water, quickly gather some paper towels or soft cloths to lay the phone on while you remove the battery cover and battery. This is one of the most important steps to saving it. Many circuits inside the phone will survive immersion in water provided they are not attached to a power source (battery) when wet.

4. Remove the SIM card if your phone has one. Some or all of your valuable contacts (along with other data) could be stored on your SIM. For many people, this could be more valuable and worthy of saving than the phone itself. The SIM card will usually survive if you do not attempt to use it while it is (or other electronic) are still wet.

5. Remove all other peripherals such as ear buds, memory cards, as well as any phone cases or protective covers. Remove all plugs that cover the gaps, slots, and crevices in the phone to expose them to air drying.

6. Dry your phone with a soft rag or towel. If there is even one drop of water left inside, it can ruin your phone by corroding it and making the circuits corrode or short out. Obviously you need to remove as much of the water as quickly as possible, to prevent it from easing its way into the phone:

  • Note: Gently wipe off as much water as possible without dropping the phone. Avoid shaking or moving the phone excessively, so as to avoid moving water through it.
  • Note: Wipe down using a towel or paper towel, trying not to clog the paper in the gaps and grooves of the phone. Keep wiping gently to remove as much of the remaining water as possible.
  • Note:(Optional): If you pulled the battery out in time, cleaning the inside of your phone with rubbing alcohol will displace the water which alone could remedy the problem.

7. Use a vacuum cleaner. If you want to try and suck the liquid out of the inner parts of the phone, try using a vacuum cleaner if there is one available. Remove all residual moisture by drawing it away with a vacuum cleaner held over the affected areas for up to 20 minutes, in each accessible area (take turns with a friend).

  • This is the fastest method and can completely dry out your phone and get it working in thirty minutes. However, unless the exposure to water was extremely short, it's not recommended to attempt to turn your phone on this soon.

8. Do not use a hair dryer to dry out a phone. Contrary to common advice, it is not recommended that you use a hair dryer (not even on the "cold" mode). Using a hair dryer may force moisture further inward toward the crevices, reaching the electrical components deep inside the phone. And if the hair dryer air is too warm, it could melt the components or the case.

  • Note: If moisture is driven deeper inside, corrosion and oxidation may result when minerals from liquids are deposited on the circuitry which could eventually cause component failure inside the phone.
  • Note: While avoiding blowing air into the phone, conversely, using a heater, fan or other air-flow device to blow air ACROSS the phone's openings will aid drying. The Bernoulli principle states that as the warm, dry air moves fast over the phone, the decreased air pressure will gently pull or suck moisture out of the phone. The best part of this option is that you can leave a phone in front of a warm, moving air for hours on end without effort.

9. Use a substance with a high affinity for drawing out moisture. An inexpensive option is to place the phone in a bowl or bag of uncooked rice overnight, Rice Krispie cereal, or just cover the phone in paper towels. The rice might absorb some remaining moisture.

  • Note: If available, it is preferable to use a desiccant instead. Desiccants may absorb moisture better than rice. You can also try slipping the cell phone inside a plastic bag that can be sealed or a plastic container (airtight). Add a desiccant packet, such as silica gel — often found with new shoes, purses, noodle packets, etc — in with the cell phone. The downside of this method is the packets packed with shoes has usually already reached its absorption capacity. Dessicant for flower drying can usually be purchased at most craft stores. Leave the phone with the dessicant or rice as long as possible (at least overnight) to absorb the moisture.

10. Let the phone sit on absorbent towels, napkins or other paper. After removing the phone from the rice or desiccant (or if you were not able to use either method), place the phone flat on an absorbent material. Remember that the goal is to evacuate all of the moisture and humidity from the device.

  • Note: Check the absorbent material every hour for 4 to 6 hours. If moisture is evident, repeat the vacuuming step and desiccant steps.

11. Test your phone. After you have waited at least 24 hours or longer (the longer the better), check to see that every area of your cell phone is clean and looks dry. Check all the ports, compartments and in between crevices for any moisture or dirt. Wipe away any dust and dirt from the device and covers and insert the battery into the phone. Attempt to power on the device, listening for odd noises and observing to see if the phone appears to function correctly.

  • Note: If your phone is completely dried out, but still does not work, try plugging it into its charger without the battery. If this works, you will probably need a new battery.
  • Note: If plugging it in with the charger doesn't work, try taking your cell phone to a repair shop. Sometimes they can fix it. Don't try to hide the fact that it has been wet - there are internal indicators that prove moisture - and the repair people are more likely to be able to help you if you explain exactly what has happened to the phone.

12. Unless you are trained and skilled to do so, never take a phone apart. Leave that to the professionals (like us), since doing so could potentially cause shock or exposure to harmful chemicals or components.

  • Note: If your phone is powering up but doesn't operate correctly after you've dried it, then it's likely that you've missed some liquid, or that corrosion has already occurred. Remove all the covers, battery, cards and other extraneious attachments again, and rub it gently with a clean dry paintbrush or toothbrush. Look on YouTube for instructions on how to properly go about this process.

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Page Sources: WikiHow