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Phones & Tablets | Computers

Phones & Tablets
What if you phone or tablet gets wet.
Most manufacturers don't cover water damage under the warranty.
Most phones have a little indicator inside, a white square, that will turn pink or red or something else to indicate water damage, so you can't fool the dealer if you take it back. I didn't see any indicator on my Galaxy Tab which got wet.

It's a mater of luck whether or not you can recover. Some people have let their phones dry for a couple of days and they worked. I dropped a blackberry in water and even though I took everything apart right away it never worked.
The general consensus is you have a 50/50 chance of saving it.
It may take several months for corrosion on the circuit board to build up and cause a failure according to one forum post.

  1. Dry
    • Don't push any buttons
    • Dry it with anything (wipe it on your shirt)
  2. Disassemble or turn off
    Remove your phone from any protective case.
    If you you can, take it apart as much as possible, take out the battery, memory cards,
    and SIM card (If you have GSM [AT&T or T-Mobile]). Water can cause a short on your circuit board, so removing the battery will help.
    If it's an iPhone, iPad, ... which won't come apart, turn it off. Don't turn it on if it is off.
    If it has salt water, soda or beer on it rinse it with distilled water.
  3. Put it in a bag or container with a desiccant (Something to absorb moisture) for 2 days (48 hrs) and put the bag in a warm spot. If it was in the water for a minute or more you may have to leave it in the bag for a week.
    • Rice
    • Bag with silica packets. Those little packets that come in some vitamins or other products that need to stay dry, and say "do not eat".
    • Use a bag designed for this purpose. e.g. Thirsty Bag $7 from iFixit, Xentris Dry-All $20 Radio Shack or a Dry-1-1 Emergency Rescue bag $20
    • Leave it on something that is warm, e.g. your computer for a few days.
      Don't put it in the oven or use a hair dryer.

    A Popular Mechanics article says, The first step: Immediately cut the power by removing the battery. I know it's tempting, but resist the urge to power up your phone to see if it works--just turning it on can short out the circuits.
    The most important thing to remember is to avoid heat. That means no hair dryers, ovens, microwaves or extended periods in direct sunlight.

    Forced air
    Avoid hair dryers, too much heat is bad and it can blow water further into the electronics.
    A Popular Mechanics article says, "But don't use a hair dryer--its heat can fry your phone's insides. Instead, opt for a can of compressed air, an air compressor set to a low psi or a vacuum cleaner (a wet/dry Shop-Vac would be perfect). The idea is to use air to push or pull moisture out through the same channels it entered.
    Heat could also warp components and melt adhesives."

    Water is conductive and can cause corrosion to the main board. Even if you soak it in rice issues can occur down the line. Within days or months due to corrosion.

    Use a desiccant
    Rice or Silica Gel Silica Gel used for drying flowers or the packets of silica gel that often come stuffed in the pockets of new clothes.
    One person reported, "took out battery, all cards and put it in a container with water absorbing crystals. next morning turned it on and worked perfectly. has not missed a beat since."
    Another said, "I would suggest leave it in rice or silica crystals for at least a week - if not two. Don't turn it on in the meantime."

    Alcohol or Circuit board cleaner
    A post in Android Forums says,
    take your phone and dip it into a bowl of 99% isopropyl (rubbing alcohol).
    (Another post says alcohol can damage some adhesives and other parts in the phone.) It will displace the water and not cause corrosion. It takes about a day or two max sitting in the open to dry. And I do mean max. if you take a fan onto it after it speeds it up a lot as well. You would only want to dip the phone in for a few seconds and shake it around to make sure the iso mixes with all the water and once it has the concentration of iso will clear up the water damage.
    (I had to go to an electronics store to get 90%, the drug store stuff is 70%) of course.

    Radio Shack(TM) Precision Electronics Cleaner that contains Isohexane, Difluoroethane & Ethanol. This type of cleaner eliminates any corrosion, evaporates, and provides a layer of protection.

    A Popular Mechanics article says, "you'll want to avoid dunking the phone in rubbing alcohol (A prescribed tip on the Web). Alcohol is a solvent and can dissolve the internal adhesives. "

    According to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (P.L. 93-637) (1975)

    The federal minimum standards for full warranties are waived if the warrantor can show that the problem associated with a warranted consumer product was caused by damage while in the possession of the consumer, or by unreasonable use, including a failure to provide reasonable and necessary maintenance.

    Replacement android: (My story)
    I got my Samsung Galaxy Wet (it was in a box on my car seat which also had a thermos of tea which spilled). It was on and the power switch and touch screen stopped working, I kept trying the power switch which was probably only doing more damage by activating wet circuits. I did several other bad things, 1. blew some hot air (only briefly) thru the SD card slot to try and force the water down and out the 30-pin connector on the bottom. I also dipped briefly in some isopropyl alcohol. It started to work briefly the next day, but stopped. I took it to the Verizon store where I got it and admitted I spilled some tea on it. They said they couldn't see any evidence of water damage and sent in a request for a replacement and gave it back to me. I then put it in a bag with some silica gel for several days. Several days later I got a box with a return label from Verizon, but it started working again as I was getting ready to ship it back, so I kept it. The only problem seemed to be some discoloration on the screen, but it did not block the display.
    However it stopped again a day later. The note with the return box said they would look at it and if they determined I had damaged it they would return the original tablet.
    So, I decided to use the above instructions to open it and see if there was corrosion or something I could fix. I got it open, but there was something gluing the back on 3/4 inch down from the top that I had difficulty releasing. The instructions at iFixIt didn't say anything about that. The battery was also connected differently than the example at iFixIt. I couldn't find all the screws either so stopped trying to dissemble it any further. However there was no evidence of water damage at that point.

    I sent it back in the box Verizon sent me with a note admitting what I had done. About a week later I got a refurbished tablet from Verizon.

    Initializing a replacement tablet: The instructions with the replacement gave me an 877 number to call and enter my order #. It told me to to use VZ access manager to set it up. There was no VZ access manager on my tablet, but when I turned it on, it put me into a setup wizard. I put in my Google account information and when I was finished, my calendar and contact list were synced.
    I could go to Market and click click the menu key, select MyApps and scroll down to see apps I had downloaded from the android market, which I needed to download again.

    Avoiding Water Damage:
    Aquapac makes waterproof clear plastic bags that allow you to take good pictures right thru the bag.

    An invisible vapor coating for electronic and other devices to prevent water damage was announced by HzO at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It coats useful electronic components at the molecular or nano-scale level.
    See Invisible Vapor Coating For Electronic And Other Devices To Prevent Water Damage | inQuid

    Researchers in Korea have now gone one step further and made water resistance a feature of the device itself by incorporating nonwetting, superhydrophobic components into the electronic device. See nanowerk.com

    Reader Comments:
    Lenny wrote:
    I got water into one of my palm's while over zealously cleaning the screen of some mess one of my little friends put on it. Water / liquid got in and seemed to just stay. Seems like the damage varies with the unit and depends on how well the components are sealed and how much water gets left in even after vigorous drying. My nephews once over flowed a toilet on top of my workstation in the basement. No one bother to turn the monitor off or shut down the system. When I got home turned things off and turned the monitor upside down to drain the water. Let the monitor sit for 3 days- the air conditioning kept the air pretty dry though. and on the 4th day everything worked fine.
    My suggestion would have been not to put the components in the sun. Even indirect sun light can cause trouble to some things. I might have tried a hair dryer on low and far enough away that the unit wasn't heating up but just exposed to the dry air. I guess even a fan could do some of the same, but just let it air out for awhile at least an hour or two depending on how well you have the internal component exposed. Even one drop of water in the wrong place while doing a premature test could a short. Of course this is a lot of speculation based on how much your components were like the ones I was playing with.

    Links:             Top
    Dropped your Mobile Phone or iPod in Water? How to Dry the Wet Gadget
    How to Save a Wet Cell Phone: 12 steps (with pictures) - wikiHow
    How to Dry Out a Cell Phone - Fix a Wet Cell Phone - Popular Mechanics
    Samsung Galaxy S i9000 Water Damage Repair | Samsung Galaxy S i9000 Water Damage at IFixYouri a repair service
    Dropped Galaxy S in water :-( - Android Forums
    Troubleshooting Wet iPhone
    According to the Warranties
    Galaxy tablet:
    Android Forums
      Dropped Galaxy S in water
    Samsung Galaxy Tab Teardown - iFixit
    Samsung Galaxy Tab Teardown & Screen Repair Directions by DirectFix.com - YouTube

    Tools for dissembling:
    Parts + Tools for Repairing Apple MacBook, iPod, iPad, iPhone, & Game Consoles - iFixit
      Pro Tech Kit $60 iFIxit
      Pro Tech Toolkit Expansion 1 $80
      Heavy-duty Suction Cups (Pair) - for iPad or iMac $15

    Toolkit Greenbrook Electronics $19
    iFixit sells a heat gun for $25 which goes up to 1,112 deg F, a hair dryer will will only go up to 140 deg F. Heat guns are better for shrink wrap and will also melt solder.
    Silverhill 20 Piece Tool Kit for Apple Products | Amazon $13
    iPad Opening Tool for iPad Repair at PowerBookMedic.com

    Can you seriously use rubbing alcohol to clean computer parts?
    How to Save a Wet iPhone or iPod Touch | iPhone.AppStorm
    Learn how to clean, repair, and disinfect a water damaged iPhone | RestorationSOS.com
    10 Tips For Repairing Water Damaged Cell Phones: VoIP-Sol.com
    How to clean your smartphone or tablet | How To - CNET

    At How I can fix a MacBook Air that beer...: Apple Support Communities they say,
    "After a substantial spill many people will turn their notebook upside down and shake it, not only does this not work, but it spreads liquid havoc throughout your machine and makes things often as bad as possible.

    The keyboard itself acts like a one way valve in the case of a substantial liquid spill. While liquid pours into the bottom chassis easy, it does not come out easily at all, and in the case of any spill, most of it will not come out by turning it upside down. Disconnect all power and contact Apple for diagnostics and repair.

    Do not attempt to, after a spill, 'dry out your MacBook' and test it After a spill most people invariably try to "dry out" their notebook by various methods, including hair dryers and otherwise. This both does not work, and after a substantial spill of any magnitude, even if the liquid was water, residue is left behind.

    There are additionally many very tight places inside your notebook where liquids will linger for a very long time, and cause corrosion or worse.

    Immediately unplug your notebook and contact Apple for in shop diagnostics and parts replacement.

    In the case of very minor spills people will "dry out" their notebook and feel success that their notebook is working ok, however invariably in nearly all instances after 4-14 days an error / fault pops up and is usually followed by more.

    In case of a spill, damage estimates are impossible,.....anything can be fixed, without question.......the question is cost."

    last updated 21 Maar 2012