How to Revive Your Water-Damaged Gadgets

How to Revive Your Water-Damaged Gadgets

You don’t need a Physics degree to know that water and electronics don’t mix well together. Though some gadgets are waterproof, most are not. Hence, you really have a problem in your hands if you accidentally drop your phone in the water. Aside from increased conductivity that can short-circuit your device, you also have to contend with corrosion from water damage.

Online, you’ll probably find many DIY remedies and hacks for drying a submerged device. However, some of these actually do more harm than good. So before we begin, let’s debunk some common misconceptions:

  • Don’t bother with burying your gadget in rice. It doesn’t matter if it’s cooked or uncooked. Despite repeated tests, rice does not actually help dry electronic equipment.
  • Never use a hair dryer. Blowing hot air into your phone runs the risk of melting important electronic circuits. Meanwhile, blowing cold air on it will just push the water deeper into your phone.
  • Don’t expose your phone to direct sunlight. As mentioned above, heat speeds up the corrosion process. This includes exposing your phone to direct sunlight. In general, keep it away from high temperatures.

These old wives’ tales on saving soggy devices endure because they seem like they make sense. The truth is, they either don’t help at all or even worsen the situation.

With those myths out of the way, we can proceed with an effective way to dry your phone or tablet. Let’s go through this step-by-step.

Step One: Get Your Device Out of the Water

This might seem obvious, but it’s important to stress that time is of the essence. With every second your phone is submerged, you’ll be less successful in saving it. Whether you dropped it in a toilet or in a swimming pool, take it out as quickly as you can.

Step Two: Turn Off Your Device

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Do this immediately after you’ve extracted your phone from wherever you’ve dropped it. Don’t even bother to dry it yet. The aim is to cut the power before the water can do more damage to the electronics—preventing an even harder-to-fix short circuit.

Step Three: Dry Your Device with a Lint-Free Towel

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Use a lint-free towel to dry your phone’s exterior. By removing lint, you reduce the chance of anything else getting stuck in your phone’s ports, speakers, and microphones.

Completely disassemble your gadget, if possible. If you have an iPhone or any other model with a built-in battery, then just remove the SIM card. Dry all of these parts, as well.

Step Four: Store Your Device in Silica Gel

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Store your phone in an enclosed container. This can be easily done with a Ziploc bag. Fill the bag with pouches of silica gel. Also called desiccants, these small bags are usually found in medicine bottles, free with some shoe brands, or available at photography supply stores. They’re useful for pulling out all the water from your device’s circuitry.

Step Five: Wait for 72 Hours

For most of us, this will be the hardest part. However, the worst thing you can do to your phone is to power it on while there’s still water left inside. Be patient and wait out the full precautionary 72 hours, to be sure no water remains in your circuits.

Step Six: Power It On

Three days will give your desiccants enough time to suck out all the moisture from your device. At this point, all you have to do is hope for the best.

If the stars align in your favor, you should have your gadget back from the dead. However, you should know that even if your phone or tablet seems to be working fine, some irrevocable damage may already have been done. Use the extra life to back up your important data. If you can afford to, bring it to a professional.

What If You Dropped It into the Sea?

If you accidentally dropped your device into the ocean, then you might have a tougher challenge ahead. In this occasion, you might really have to leave it for the professionals to handle.

It’s because saltwater is highly corrosive. Unlike with fresh or drinking water, the salt will remain inside—even after the water has evaporated. But there’s still a way to save your phone.

After you’ve collected and disassembled your device, the next thing to do is to submerge it in alcohol. Specifically, use 99% isopropyl alcohol, which is available from industrial suppliers. We know that sounded crazy, but it actually works for two reasons.

First, it gets rid of the salty minerals that do the most damage to your circuits. Second, alcohol evaporates quickly, helping with the drying process. Additionally, pure isopropyl alcohol does not conduct electricity. This makes it safe for cleaning electronics.

After submerging it in alcohol, proceed with drying your device. Follow the steps as usual and, once more, hope for the best.

Some Final Words

Unfortunately, most warranties don’t cover water damage. And technicians can usually tell if your phone’s been wet. Phones and tablets have a water indicator inside them that change color when wet—so don’t think they won’t find out.

Just remember that there is no 100% guaranteed way to fix an electronic device subjected to water damage. Even if you get it to turn on again, you have to keep hoping for the best. It doesn’t if you were able to revive your gadget or not. Unless you’re buying a new device, then having it serviced is the safest course of action.

John Arzadon
John Arzadon