Where can I find liquid damage indicators?

Liquid damage indicators, also known as liquid contact indicators or water damage stickers, are small stickers located inside electronic devices that change color when they come into contact with liquid. They provide a visual indication that the device has been exposed to moisture or water, which can cause corrosion and electrical shorts.

What are liquid damage indicators?

Liquid damage indicators are thin stickers made from water-soluble ink printed on paper or plastic. They are typically located in areas where liquid is most likely to ingress such as near batteries, under keyboards, around charging ports, or on the interior housing of devices.

The stickers are designed to dissolve and leave an irreversible stain when they come into contact with water or the minerals and contaminants found in liquid spills. Most liquid damage indicators turn from white or off-white to red, pink, or purple when wet. However, some newer types of indicators display messages such as “Liquid Contact” when triggered.

Manufacturers place these indicators inside devices so technicians can quickly identify devices exposed to liquid without needing to disassemble them for further inspection. The change in color alerts technicians to possible water damage and corrosion so they can either repair or replace the affected parts right away.

Where are liquid damage indicators commonly located?

The specific locations of liquid damage indicators varies between device manufacturers and models, but there are some common placement areas to check:

  • Under the battery – This is a prime spot for leaks since liquid often seeps into the battery compartment.
  • Near charging ports – Moisture ingress often occurs through exposed ports and openings.
  • Under keyboards – Spilled drinks can seep under chiclet style keyboards on laptops.
  • On bottom housing – Some indicators run along the perimeter of the bottom casing.
  • Near speaker/mic grills – Liquid can enter through unsealed speaker and microphone holes.
  • On interior housing – Technicians will look for indicators inside once the external case is removed.
  • Around screen & camera – Water damage may come in from the display around the edges.


For smartphones, some of the most common liquid damage indicator locations include:

  • Sim card slot
  • Near charging port
  • Under battery
  • Along bottom interior housing
  • Near headphones jack
  • Around front and rear cameras


On tablets, indicators can often be found in these locations:

  • Around perimeter of screen
  • Under battery
  • Near charging port
  • Along side interior housing
  • Near speakers and microphone
  • Under back cover if removable


Laptop liquid damage indicators may be placed:

  • Under built-in keyboard
  • Under removable keyboard if present
  • By charging ports and connectors
  • Under bottom cover
  • Around screen edges
  • Near air vents and cooling fans
  • On motherboard

Why are liquid damage indicators important?

Liquid damage indicators serve a few key purposes:

  • Quickly identify water damaged devices – Technicians can spot water damage right away without dismantling devices.
  • Locate potential points of failure – Knowledge of where moisture got in gives clues about affected components.
  • Validate water damage claims – Color-changed stickers prove liquid contact occurred and whether warranties apply.
  • Prevent electrical hazards – Identifying moisture ingress points allows steps to dry devices and stop further short circuiting.
  • Determine necessary repairs – The location and extent of indicators changed shows which parts need replacement or corrosion cleaning.

Without liquid damage indicators, locating water damage requires complete disassembly and visual inspection. This takes more time and makes it harder to find all points of liquid contact. The indicators save repair technicians diagnostic time and help minimize the need to replace still-working components.

What types of liquid damage indicators are used?

There are a few main designs and ink formulations used for liquid damage indicators in electronics:

  • Dot/circle indicators – Small round indicator dots appear along edges and seams.
  • Line indicators – Runs of line shaped indicators follow housing contours.
  • Message indicators – Displays words like “Liquid Contact” when activated.
  • Standard inks – Turn from off-white/beige to red, pink, or purple.
  • Enhanced inks – Some new inks turn blue, green, yellow, or brown instead.

Circle dot indicators are common for compact placement along interior edges and seams. Line indicators help map larger areas in case moisture travels. Message indicators clearly spell out when liquid was detected.

Standard red, pink, purple color change inks are inexpensive and have been used for years. New enhanced inks in other colors aim to make the color change more visible against device internals and help distinguish new liquid exposure from old dried out damage.

Do liquid indicators ever trigger falsely?

Liquid damage indicators are designed to turn colors only when in contact with liquid, so false triggering is rare. However, there are a few cases that can falsely trip the change in color:

  • High humidity – Prolonged exposure to very humid environments can cause some inks to change.
  • Extreme heat – In some cases, high heat over 160°F may alter indicator ink colors.
  • Solvents – Chemical vapors from strong cleaners and solvents could trigger ink changes.
  • Oils – Contact with certain oils may stain some types of inks.
  • Insect infestations – Crawling insects could transfer enough moisture to activate indicators.

Many of these false changing conditions though would likely only partially alter indicator colors, not fully change them. To help avoid false triggers, most manufacturers use tightly sealed housings and inks resistant to humidity, heat, and chemicals. Indicators are also placed away from heat sources during device assembly.

Can liquid damaged devices be repaired if the indicators are activated?

Devices with tripped liquid damage indicators can often still be repaired, especially if caught quickly before corrosion sets in. However, the type and extent of repairs needed depends on:

  • How long the device was exposed to moisture
  • If the device was powered on while wet
  • Which components got affected
  • If corrosion is present

For minor liquid damage where only the indicators triggered, repairs may be limited to:

  • Cleaning corrosion from terminals and contacts
  • Replacing tripped indicator stickers
  • Testing components like charging ports for functionality
  • Ensuring no short circuit damage occurred

More extensive damage involving partially non-functional components may necessitate replacement of:

  • Damaged electronic boards and flex cables
  • Speakers, microphones, cameras
  • Internal connectors and charging ports
  • Displays with backlight issues
  • Short-circuited device batteries

In severe long-term liquid damage cases where corrosion is widespread, entire device replacement may be necessary if cleaning and component swap outs cannot restore full functionality.

Can liquid damaged devices still be water resistant after repair?

Devices rated for water and dust resistance such as phones with IP67 ratings can potentially retain their water resistance after minor liquid damage repairs. However, more extensive liquid damage often requires compromising the water resistance by:

  • Opening sealed ports and housing
  • Replacing water-proof gaskets and seals
  • Removing glued screens and components

Full water resistance restoration requires resealing the device per the manufacturer specifications with quality replacements for any compromised water seals and adhesives. Component suppliers may provide repair shops with verified water-proof replacement parts designed not to degrade original water ratings. However, extensive liquid damage often limits restoring full water resistance even with correct repairs.

Can liquid damage stickers be replaced?

Many manufacturers don’t intend for liquid damage indicator stickers to be removable or replaceable. However, specialty electronics repair shops can often source replacement sticker sets for devices they repair. Quality replacement liquid indicators closely mimic the size, shape, and locations of the original factory indicators. Technicians take care to place any replacement indicators right in the original positions to accurately detect potential future liquid exposure.

Some devices, like certain iPhone models, also feature internal electronic moisture sensors that can’t be reset or restored with stickers alone. These require additional steps like replacing soldered sensor flex cables. Without resetting built-in moisture sensors, devices may still detect past liquid contact even with swapped out external indicator stickers.

Does liquid damage void warranties?

Liquid damage often voids manufacturer warranties since most brands exclude water exposure from coverage. However, consumer laws in some countries require brands to prove liquid caused failure to deny warranty coverage. In the United States, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prohibits warrantors from automatically voiding coverage without proving liquid caused a defect.

So unless brands can clearly demonstrate liquid contact caused the issue, they legally cannot decline coverage based on triggered indicators alone. Nonetheless, most manufacturers cite liquid damage stickers as proof of liquid exposure to stop providing warranty services. Consumers may need to push back and demand proof or pursue legal action if denied coverage unfairly.

Can you dispute liquid damage with your credit card?

If you are improperly denied a repair under warranty due to questionable liquid damage, payment providers like credit card companies can potentially help dispute the charges. Many major credit card providers have purchase protection policies that may cover repair costs if the manufacturer unfairly fails to honor the warranty.

To successfully dispute liquid damage charges, you will need to provide documentation showing:

  • The product model and original purchase date
  • The manufacturer’s warranty terms
  • Proof of unfair warranty denial
  • Any demand letters sent to the manufacturer
  • Repair cost invoices

The credit card company will review the paperwork and determine if the warranty denial was justified or if you qualify for reimbursement under its policies. If approved, the provider will credit back the cost of repairs wrongly declined under warranty.

What precautions help avoid liquid damage?

You can take a few simple precautions to help safeguard electronics against potentially damaging liquid exposure:

  • Keep drinks away from devices.
  • Never use devices in wet settings like pools or baths.
  • Shut down and unplug devices if they get wet.
  • Store electronics in dry areas without water or humidity sources.
  • Allow wet devices time to thoroughly dry before turning them on again.
  • Have devices assessed by technicians after any sign of moisture contact.

Additional steps like using water-resistant cases or getting water-proofing treatments for devices can also help reduce risk. But avoiding exposing electronics to moisture in the first place remains the safest way to prevent liquid damage.


Liquid damage indicators provide an easy visual clue that electronics have come into contact with moisture. Knowing where to check for the indicators allows quicker diagnosis of water exposure events. Though the triggered stickers may show liquid ingress occurred, devices can often still be repaired if dried and cleaned up promptly. Taking care to keep electronics away from potential liquid hazards remains the best way to maximize their lifespan and avoid the headaches of water damage.