It is often possible to fix a phone that has been exposed to water, but success depends on the extent of the water damage and how quickly you take action. Immediately power off the phone, remove any cases, and dry it thoroughly with absorbent material. Disassemble the phone to dry internal components. Soak up remaining moisture with isopropyl alcohol. Allow the phone to air dry for at least 24-48 hours before attempting to power it on again. Water damage is not always repairable, but taking prompt action gives you the best chance of restoring full functionality.
Assessing the Water Damage
The severity of water damage to a phone can vary widely depending on the type of liquid and extent of exposure:
– Water – Regular water causes less corrosion than other liquids like soda or saltwater. Damage may be reversible if acted on quickly.
– Soda – Carbonated beverages are conductive and corrosive. Coke, beer, etc. can quickly damage electronics.
– Saltwater – Very conductive and corrosive. Sea water and pool water cause more permanent damage.
– Toilet water – Unsanitary and conductive. Contaminants cause corrosion and bacteria/pathogens may remain.
– Splashed – Isolated exposure in small amounts. May only impact certain areas. Easier to dry out.
– Brief submersion – Soaking for less than 30 minutes. Still damaging but system may be salvageable.
– Prolonged submersion – Over 30 minutes immersed. May be unrecoverable due to extensive corrosion.
– Running water – Continued exposure as liquid streams through device. Can quickly damage electronic components.
Immediate Damage Control
If your phone has gotten wet, it’s important to act fast in order to mitigate damage:
– Immediately power off the phone – This stops electric current from spreading water to internal components.
– Remove any protective cases – Cases trap in liquid and prevent drying. Take them off to access the phone.
– Dry exterior and ports – Use a lint-free cloth or compressed air to thoroughly dry the ear speaker, charging port, etc.
– Remove SIM card and SD card – Dry cards with cloth and set aside to air dry separately.
– Shake out excess water – Lightly shake device to free trapped water in crevices.
– Dry interior components – For major submersion, you may need to disassemble the phone to directly dry the motherboard, battery, etc.
– Absorb remaining moisture – Use isopropyl alcohol to displace and absorb residual interior liquid.
– Air dry – Allow phone to sit for at least 24-48 hours before attempting to power on again.
There are a variety of methods you can use to dry out a wet phone, although air drying is most effective:
Leaving the phone powered off and disassembled in open air is the safest way to thoroughly dry interior and exterior components. May take 24-48 hours or longer depending on water exposure.
Burying the phone in a bowl of dry, uncooked rice can absorb external moisture. Rice does not impact interior components.
Placing moisture-absorbing desiccant packs near the phone draws humidity away. More effective for moisture in enclosed spaces.
Warming a wet phone with a hairdryer on low heat can help evaporate moisture. Do not overheat.
Some phone repair shops use specialized vacuum chambers to dehydrate devices. Removes moisture at low pressure.
Cleaning Corroded Components
Once sufficiently dried, inspect interior phone components for corrosion and clean as needed:
– Battery corrosion – Clean battery connector with alcohol and brush. May need replacement.
– Motherboard corrosion – Clean corrosion from board with 91%+ isopropyl alcohol and toothbrush.
– Charging port corrosion – Clean port and pins thoroughly with alcohol to remove oxidation.
– Audio jack corrosion – Use cotton swabs and alcohol to scrub corrosion around headphone jack.
Be gentle around delicate components. Reapply alcohol and brush multiple times to remove stubborn corrosion.
Reassembling and Testing
Once fully dry and clean, carefully reassemble your phone:
– Ensure all components are dry – No moisture should remain on any parts being reinstalled.
– Inspect rubber gaskets and seals – Replace any deformed or cracked seals that may allow moisture inside.
– Reinstall battery and SIM card – Make sure the battery connector is corrosion-free.
– Close up phone and replace exterior screws – Do not overtighten screws.
– Power on phone – After 24-48 hours drying, attempt to turn phone on and observe.
– Check display, buttons, and ports – Test phone’s basic functions and look for signs of water damage.
– Backup data and reset – If operable, back up data immediately in case issues emerge later. Factory reset if needed.
– Further repair – For continued issues, take phone to a professional repair shop for inspection and component-level repair.
You can take proactive steps to keep your phone safe from water exposure:
– Use a watertight phone case – Protective cases create a seal against water. Especially important near pools/beaches.
– Attach a floating strap – Connecting your phone to a floating hand strap keeps it from sinking if dropped in water.
– Apply water-repellent coatings – Nano-coating products provide minor water resistance to electronics.
– Keep phone away from water – Avoid setting phone close to sinks or liquids. Be aware when outdoors.
– Inspect seals regularly – Check for degraded rubber gaskets/seals and replace as needed.
– Turn off before exposing to moisture – Powering off prevents shorts and limits corrosion.
– Have phone repaired by pros – Let experienced technicians handle any internal drying or repair for best results.
When to Replace Your Phone
If internal components suffer too much corrosion or permanent damage, fixing a water-damaged phone may not be possible. Consider replacement if:
– Motherboard corrosion is widespread – Severe motherboard damage can make powering on impossible.
– Charging port no longer functions – Cannot charge battery or transfer data without the charging port.
– Minimal functionality when powered on – If phone only partially starts up, internal damage may be too great.
– Cost of repair exceeds replacement cost – At a certain point, extensive repairs are not worth the expense.
– Phone was kept in wet case for prolonged period – Being immersed in liquid for days leads to irreparable damage.
– Device has other pre-existing issues – If phone was already having problems, water damage may be last straw.
– Liquid exposure was over 1 year ago – Leaving corrosion unchecked for extensive time makes salvaging phone unlikely.
Professional Repair Options
For phones with major water damage or failed DIY attempts, seek out professional phone recovery and data restoration services.
Local Repair Shops
Many independent phone/computer repair stores offer water damage repairs. Results and pricing vary.
The phone’s manufacturer or an authorized service center may repair phones, but costs are usually high.
Mail-In Recovery Services
Companies like iResQ specialize in mail-in smartphone recovery, though turnaround time is slower.
Data Recovery Specialists
They focus on retrieving data off damaged phones. Does not include repairing device itself.
Weigh the projected costs against a replacement phone. Data recovery can retrieve photos, messages, etc. from a damaged device even if the phone itself is unsalvageable.
It’s possible to revive a water-damaged phone with quick action, proper drying techniques, cleaning of corrosion, and component-level repair. But extensive exposure can cause irreversible internal damage requiring phone replacement. Your best bet is always to keep devices away from moisture in the first place. With prompt steps after water contact, you can hopefully mitigate damage and recover a functional phone. For severe cases beyond DIY methods, rely on professional services specialized in phone data recovery and repair.