This post originally appeared in the November issue of VIP Magazine in Florence. Our team wrote the article for the magazine but they have graciously let us include it on our new blog as well.
After fixing phones for four years, I can’t tell you the number of stories I have heard about phones getting wet. Some stories seemed impossible, some were hilarious, and others were so disgusting I didn’t want to touch the phone. All of them were unfortunate accidents in an unpredictable world. Over the years we have helped hundreds of people with liquid damaged devices. Along the way we have learned a few tested and true tips to help prevent your phone from ending up unrepairable.
The first, and most important, thing to remember if your phone gets wet, is to never try to turn it on or plug it into a charger. If your phone gets wet, turn it off and, if possible, take out the battery. Turning your phone on while still wet sends a current through the phone that can cause the electronics to short creating a bigger, possibly unfixable, issue.
After ensuring the phone is off, try to remove anything you can from the phone such as sim cards, SD cards, the battery, a case etc.. If you can shake some of the water out of the device, it might be helpful. It is important to remember that at this stage, even though it looks okay from the outside, the real damage happens inside. If your phone was completely submerged into salt water or acidic liquids such as soft drink, juices, tea, or dirty water, it is not a bad idea to rinse the phone out with purified water if possible. This seems scary, but pure water can rid your device of corrosive minerals or chemicals that lead to serious corrosion. (pictured right)
At this point, most people have been told to put their phone in rice, however, from our experience the use of rice can cause several unforeseen issues. While rice can absorb some of the moisture, it does not have the ability to remove the chemicals left inside the device once the moisture is evaporated. Also, it is not uncommon for pieces of rice to lodge themselves inside openings on the device such as charging ports and headphone jacks. Some options for trying to get liquid out of your phone include using a vacuum or a food dehydrator, as long as the temperature does not exceed 115 degrees Fahrenheit. If your phone was only briefly submerged, and is functioning after retrieving it from its liquid bath, the steps listed above have a good chance of saving your phone from partial liquid damage.
Restoring a water damaged device requires multiple stages of cleaning. Each situation is different, but one thing we know for sure, the sooner we are able to work on a liquid damaged device the better chance we have to save it. If your phone spent a prolonged amount of time in, or was totally submerged in liquid, your best chance of recovery is to take it to an expert as soon as possible. When a phone has standing water in it from a recent encounter with water, we see a tremendously higher success rate than if we get a phone after a week of it sitting in rice.
If you find yourself in this situation with liquid damage, while we will try our very best, there is no guarantee that we will be able to save your device or your data. In this unpredictable world, It is very important to keep your phone backed up so that you do not lose anything important to you. Making sure you have a backup can help take the stress away from a bad situation. If you are prone to getting your phone wet, there are cases available that can help keep your phone waterproof.
In closing, the point to remember is that water and electronics are not friends. There are ways to lessen the impact liquid has on a device, but that requires handling the device well in the first moments after an accident. Knowing what to do and what not to do can make all the difference.