Water damage is one of the most common issues that can affect iPhones. If your iPhone has been exposed to water, whether it be fresh water, saltwater, or any other type of liquid, it is possible to fix it and recover your data. However, the extent of the water damage and how quickly you act to address it will determine your success.
How does water damage an iPhone?
Water can damage the internal components of an iPhone in a few key ways:
- Corrosion – When water gets inside the iPhone, it can cause corrosion on the logic board and other electronic components. This is especially true if the water was saltwater, which is very conductive.
- Short circuiting – Water can short circuit the electronic circuits and components inside the iPhone and prevent it from powering on or working properly.
- Damage to screens and connectors – If water seeps into the screen or charging ports, it can cause damage to the screens and connector pins.
The damage water causes often gets worse over time as corrosion continues to spread. This is why it is important to address water damage right away before permanent damage occurs.
What are the first steps when water damage occurs?
If your iPhone has been exposed to water, follow these steps immediately:
- Turn off the iPhone – Press and hold the side or top button until the power off slider appears. Turning it off reduces the risk of short circuiting.
- Dry it thoroughly – Use a soft, absorbent cloth to gently dry the entire surface of the iPhone. Be sure to pat connectors and openings dry.
- Do not charge the iPhone – Charging can cause short circuiting if water is still present inside the ports or cables.
- Do not reconnect cables or accessories – This can pass current through water and cause shorts.
Completely drying the iPhone right after water exposure gives you the best chance of being able to salvage it and fix any damage.
How to dry out the internal components
Even after drying the outside of your iPhone, water may still remain trapped internally. Here are some steps you can take to help evaporate that internal moisture:
- Leave the iPhone in a dry, warm place – Allow the iPhone to sit for at least 24 hours so remaining moisture can fully evaporate.
- Use a desiccant pack – Place the iPhone and desiccant packs in a sealed bag or container to absorb moisture.
- Use a blow dryer – Carefully aim a blow dryer set to low or medium heat around the iPhone openings to evaporate moisture inside.
Be very careful when using heat to dry out your iPhone – it should never feel hot to the touch, which risks further damage.
Cleaning corrosion from internal components
If water exposure caused corrosion on the logic board or connectors, specialized cleaning solutions can remove that corrosion and improve functionality.
Some recommended options include:
- Isopropyl alcohol – High purity alcohol can dissolve corrosion and evaporates completely.
- Electronic contact cleaners – These solvents are designed to dissolve corrosion on circuits.
- Distilled white vinegar – The mild acidic properties of vinegar can dissolve some corrosion.
Use these solutions sparingly with cotton swabs, microfiber cloths, or soft-bristle toothbrushes. Be very careful not to get any liquids on the battery, which could be dangerous.
Fixing physical water damage
In addition to internal electronic damage, physical components of the iPhone can also be damaged by water exposure:
- Screen damage – Water can seep under the screen and damage the LCD and touchscreen layers. This appears as distorted visuals or no response to touch.
- Charging port issues – Moisture in the charging port can corrode the pins or cause short circuiting when cables are connected.
- Speaker and microphone problems – Water exposure can permanently damage these components and cause muffled or inaudible sound.
For physical damage like these, replacement of those iPhone components may be necessary. For example, replacing the screen or charging port. In some cases it may be more cost effective to replace the iPhone rather than repair multiple components.
Using silica gel to absorb moisture
Silica gel is a desiccant, which means it absorbs and holds water vapor very effectively. Putting silica gel packs inside a water damaged iPhone can help draw out and absorb residual moisture.
To use silica gel:
- Purchase high quality silica gel packs – Look for indicating (orange to green) silica gel designed for electronics.
- Bury iPhone in packs – Place phone in an airtight container with packs for at least 24 hours.
- Check for color change – The gel will change color when saturated with moisture, indicating absorbed water.
- Recharge packs – Reusable packs can be dried out at low heat to use again.
Using this technique in combination with external drying of the iPhone provides a very effective way to thoroughly remove moisture from inside the device.
Opening the iPhone to dry internal components
For very wet water damage, opening the iPhone and exposing internal components directly to air can accelerate drying.
Some points if considering this:
- Use proper tools – Specialized screwdriver kits allow safe iPhone disassembly.
- Follow disassembly guides – Refer to visual guides to avoid component damage.
- Watch for tears – Inspect gaskets and seals for damage that compromises water resistance.
- Dry components separately – Gently wipe down and air dry each component before reassembly.
While this invasive process has risks, it may allow drying of wet components that cannot be adequately dried externally. Only attempt this if you are technically skilled at electronic disassembly and repair.
Replacing water damaged iPhone components
For some failed iPhone components after water exposure, replacement may be the only option for a full repair. Some common replacements include:
- Screen – If the screen is damaged beyond simply drying it out, screen replacement may be needed.
- Battery – Liquid exposure can damage batteries and pose a safety risk, warranting replacement.
- Logic board – If corrosion is extensive, it may be more feasible to replace the logic board than clean it.
Use only original Apple iPhone parts or high quality aftermarket components to ensure quality and compatibility during replacements.
Best methods for drying an iPhone
Based on the internal smartphone damage various types of water exposure can cause, here are the most effective steps for drying and fixing a water damaged iPhone:
- Immediately power off the iPhone and pat dry with a soft cloth.
- Do not attempt to power on or charge the iPhone until it is fully dried.
- Place the iPhone in front of a fan blowing room temperature air for 12-24 hours.
- Use additional desiccant packs or silica gel packs for 24-48 hours to extract moisture.
- Clean any corrosion from logic board and connectors using isopropyl alcohol.
- Replace any damaged ports or connectors like the charging port.
- If device still doesn’t power on, open iPhone and clean interior components.
Carefully following these steps gives water damaged iPhones the best chance of working again after drying out. Be patient and do not try to shortcut the drying process.
Water damage repair cost
The cost to repair an iPhone that has been damaged by water exposure can vary quite a bit based on the severity and type of damage. Here are some typical water damage repair costs:
|Repair Type||Typical Cost|
|Screen replacement||$100 – $200|
|Battery replacement||$50 – $70|
|Charging port replacement||$50 – $70|
|Logic board repair||$150 – $350|
|Complete phone replacement||$450+ (with new iPhone purchase)|
Factors like the iPhone model, local repair shop rates, and part availability can all impact the final cost of fixing water damage. Extensive corrosion or component replacements typically result in higher repair bills.
Preventing iPhone water damage
While iPhones can often be revived after some types of water damage, prevention is always the best approach. Consider these tips to avoid water damage on your iPhone:
- Use a protective case – Cases with gaskets seal ports and provide impact protection.
- Attach a waterproof covering – Temporary waterproof cases can protect during wet activities.
- Turn off phone near water – Power it off to avoid shorts if moisture gets in.
- Never charge wet phones – Only use cables once completely dry.
- Rinse after saltwater – Rinse phone in fresh water if exposed to seawater.
- Invest in waterproof models – Newer iPhones have much better water resistance.
Being cautious around water and other liquids can go a long way towards preventing costly damage. But if your iPhone does take an accidental soak, follow the drying techniques outlined to give yourself the best shot at salvaging it.
Professional iPhone water damage repair
For iPhone owners who are uncomfortable disassembling and repairing their own device, seeking professional water damage repair services is recommended. Stores like uBreakiFix offer reliable iPhone repairs for water damage and other issues.
Benefits of professional iPhone water damage repair include:
- Specialized diagnostic tools to assess damage
- In-depth component cleaning and corrosion removal
- High quality replacement parts from reputable suppliers
- Microsoldering capability for logic board component repairs
- Experience opening iPhones without causing collateral damage
In many cases, the cost of professional repair is comparable to the value of DIY repairs when factoring in replacement part costs and the risks of causing further damage. Locating a skilled and reputable repair shop is key.
Data recovery from water damaged iPhones
Beyond physical repair of the iPhone itself, water damage can also threaten the data stored on your device. Important photos, videos, documents and other data may be recoverable though.
Options for iPhone data recovery include:
- Professional data recovery services – Labs specialize in extricating data from damaged devices.
- Backups to iCloud – If backups are current, you can restore to a replacement iPhone.
- Backups to a computer – iTunes backups allow device data restores when available.
If possible, seeking professional iPhone data recovery immediately after water exposure provides the best results. Leaving the phone powered off until data can be pulled off is also critical.
Liquid damage presents one of the most challenging problems that can face iPhone owners. Quick action to dry out an iPhone after water exposure and properly clean and replace any damaged components is key. Seeking professional assistance for extensive repairs or data recovery provides the highest likelihood of success.
While a water damaged iPhone can often be revived with the right techniques, prevention is always preferable. Using protective cases, avoiding charging wet phones, and exercising additional caution around pool and ocean water can all help avoid costly water damage incidents.