Water damage is one of the most common ways that phones get broken. If your phone gets dropped in water, splashed, or even exposed to very humid conditions, you may be wondering if it can recover or if it’s a goner. The good news is that with some quick action, there’s a good chance you can rescue a water-damaged phone.
How to Dry Out a Wet Phone
If your phone has been exposed to liquid, you’ll want to act fast in order to give it the best chance of survival. Here are some steps to take right away:
- Remove the phone from the water source immediately. The less time it spends submerged, the better.
- Do not try to turn on the phone. Attempting to power on a wet phone can short circuit it.
- Remove any protective case, which can trap moisture inside. Take out the SIM card tray as well.
- pat the phone with a clean, soft cloth to soak up excess moisture on the surface. Do not rub it, which can push water further inside.
- Do not attempt to dry the phone using heat, such as a hairdryer or oven. This can melt phone components.
Use Absorbent Materials
Place the phone in or on materials that will draw moisture out of it:
- Submerge it in uncooked rice. Rice absorbs ambient moisture very effectively.
- Bury it in a bowl of dry oatmeal. The oats will suck water out.
- Wrap it in a dry towel or cloth. Check and change the cloth as needed.
- Use moisture-absorbing packets designed for electronics. These are sold at many stores.
- Set it near or on an air conditioning vent to utilize cold, dry forced air.
Leave the phone switched off in the absorbent material for 24-48 hours. This gives time for all moisture to fully evaporate.
Other Drying Tips
- Use a can of compressed air to blow out any ports or openings where liquid may be trapped.
- Remove any wet SIM card, memory card, and battery, and allow them to air dry separately before reinstalling.
- When reassembling the phone, leave any protective case off for a while to ensure no moisture remains trapped inside.
Signs of Water Damage
Once your phone has had time to dry out, examine it carefully for any signs of water damage. Here are some things to look for:
- Display problems: Screen remains black when powering on, image distortion or flickering, dead spots on touchscreen.
- Audio issues: No sound from speakers, crackling/popping sounds, microphone not working.
- Charging difficulties: Won’t charge, charging intermittently, charging portloose or corroded.
- Corrosion: Rust, mineral deposits, white residues around ports, SIM tray, buttons.
- Moisture: Beads of liquid inside phone, fogginess/condensation under screen glass.
- Smoke or smell: Burning odor or visible smoke indicating an electrical short.
The presence of liquid inside the phone, corrosion, or definite signs of short-circuiting are bad signs that indicate water probably reached internal electronic components.
Water Damage Repair Options
If inspection shows clear evidence of water damage, it’s best to take the phone to a professional repair shop. DIY attempts often make things worse. Repair technicians have specialized tools and methods to dry out and resuscitate water-damaged phones. Here are some repair options they may use:
Ultrasonic cleaners use high-frequency vibrations in a fluid bath to dislodge particles and debris. They effectively cleaned corrosion and residues from phone internals without harming delicate electronics.
Isopropyl alcohol rinse
A pure isopropyl alcohol bath removes traces of minerals and corrosive residues left behind by water exposure. Technicians disassemble the phone and submerge components.
Water damage indicator checks
Technicians check built-in water damage indicator strips. If tripped, phone internal parts are replaced.
Logic board drying
Moisture trapped under chips on the logic board can cause short-circuiting. Techs thoroughly dry the logic board and sockets.
Contact cleaning and protection
Buildup on electrical contacts can impede connectivity. Techs use cleaning agents and apply corrosion-inhibiting sealants.
With proper repairs, there’s an excellent chance of bringing a water-damaged phone back to normal function.
Do-it-Yourself Water Damage Fixes
While professional repair is recommended for wet phones, there are a few DIY things you can try if you can’t get to a repair shop right away:
- If the phone won’t power on, leave it in rice for at least 72 hours. This may allow time for corrosion to dissipate.
- Use a blow dryer on low heat setting to evaporate moisture. Hold it well away from the phone to avoid overheating.
- Check for debris stuck in charging port and gently clean out with a toothpick.
- Open phone and wipe any visible moisture from interior parts with an electronics-safe cloth.
- If speaker/mic don’t work, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean ports.
Note that DIY repairs on a water damaged phone can potentially cause further damage. But if you can’t get professional help right away, it may be worth trying as a last resort.
Preventing Water Damage
While no phone is 100% waterproof, there are steps you can take to reduce the chance of liquid damage:
- Use a protective phone case rated for submersion in water.
- Avoid exposing phone to humidity extremes like steam rooms.
- Keep water and other liquids away from phone.
- Never shower or swim with your phone.
- Install a water-repellent screen protector.
- Avoid placing phone on sink edges next to water.
- Take extra caution around pools, lakes, oceans, boats, etc.
- If phone does get wet, act fast to dry it out.
Should I Get Phone Insurance?
Since water damage is such a common accident, phone insurance can give you peace of mind and help pay for repairs if it happens. Here are some pros and cons of phone insurance to consider:
|Covers cost of water damage repairs||Monthly or yearly premiums add expense|
|Often includes coverage for other accidents like cracks and drops||Deductible must be paid per claim|
|Makes replacement affordable if phone can’t be fixed||Many plans require you to return damaged phone|
|Provides peace of mind when using phone around water||Coverage limits and exclusions apply|
Ultimately whether phone insurance makes sense depends on your personal risk factors. If you work outdoors near water or have a history of phone accidents, the benefits may be worth costs. But for careful users insurance is often an unnecessary expense.
While no phone is invincible, many can be revived even after significant water exposure. If your phone gets wet, act immediately to dry it out with rice, desiccants, or air flow. Look for signs of water damage like screen glitches, charging problems, and corrosion. For best results, take it to a professional phone repair shop where technicians have proper tools to clean and restore water-damaged electronics. With fast action, there’s a good chance your phone can pull through. Consider investing in a protective case and even phone insurance if your phone is prone to water risks. With proper precautions and prompt repair when accidents happen, your phone can survive an encounter with liquid.