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The Heretic’s Guide to Fixing a Water Damaged iPhone.

How to Save a Water Damaged iPhone from www.fix-iphones.com

In our experience here at RepairLabs, there are a few things that you can do to save your water damaged iPhone. Yes, there are a  TON of people out there on the internets who claim they know the right way to save a water damaged iPhone.

Plonk. That awful sound when you realize your phone is in the toilet.

Facepalm. That awful moment when you know you’re going to have to fish it out. Fast.

But now what? Now that you know your phone has water damage, what do you do? You get on the Internet and figure out how to save it. You read five or ten articles and they tell you the same things over and over. Put it in rice. Remove the SIM card. Take out the battery. Big help.  Only an expert with a specialized jewelry flathead screwdriver can get the battery out of an iPhone. And the rice trick is dubious at best. We know that everybody on the internet swears by it. This is the guide that will tell you what really works and what doesn’t. It’ll probably say some unpopular things, going against common Net wisdom, so we’ll get all the Heresy out of the way right at the beginning.

 

The Myths of How to Save a Water Damaged iPhone.

So, should you really put it in a bag of rice, or is that just a myth? It sure makes ya feel better. Almost like you have some control over the situation. Yes, rice is a desiccant, just like those silica gel packs you find in beef jerky bags. They keep things from getting…chewy.  If you want to leave it in rice while you wait your 48 hours, be our guest. It can’t really hurt anything. To try the rice trick, simply seal your phone in a Ziploc full of rice, making sure to get all the extra air out of it. Leave your water damaged iPhone off for at least 48 hours in the rice. But we’ve fixed hundreds of wet, water damaged iPhones here, and you wouldn’t believe how many of those actually arrive here in that bag of rice. It just doesn’t help.  It doesn’t do anything but waste rice.

Other people recommend silica gel packs or desiccant, but we rarely have those on hand, and time is of the essence in taking out the moisture. Rust and corrosion can begin to develop in one day.

  • DON’T: Shake your iPhone to get out any extra water that was in it.  It seems like a really great idea, but it’s not. You want to prevent the water from moving across any circuitry. This is when you can actually do extra damage causing shorts and corrosion that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • DON’T: Worry about taking out the SIM card. You can’t remove the iPhone’s battery, and we don’t recommend trying, given all the delicate innards of the device.
  • DON’T: try sucking out the extra moisture with a vacuum cleaner hose and nozzle. This is just is another opportunity for water to move across more circuitry.
  • DON’T put it in the oven. This can melt tiny pieces of logic board. We’ve actually fixed a phone that someone put in the oven to dry out.  Never put a water damaged iPhone in the microwave. This will destroy both the phone and the microwave, and then burn your entire house down.

 

So what SHOULD you do?

Water Damaged iPhone Triage. What to do:

Okay, so your phone has gone swimming.

Your warranty is now void. Don’t worry about voiding it. iPhone warranties don’t cover water damage, and remember, you can’t trick the guys at Apple. They have liquid sensors all over those little phones. Check out what they look like here.  You’ll see white strips, some with red stripes, inside your phone (in the headphone jack, for instance) that will turn pink or bleed if the phone’s been exposed to water damage.  We’ve repaired hundreds of cell phones and these are the things that we know from experience  that work:

  • Get that phone out of the water ASAP.
  • THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: Power it off immediately. If it hasn’t already powered off, turn it off.  If it won’t stop “Pinwheeling” or you can’t “slide to power off,” do a hard shutdown (press the home button and the screen button and hold for 10 seconds until the device powers off). This is critical; it’s your best chance to save your device.
  • Remove all peripherals and covers attached to the phone.
  • If it’s been totally submerged in salt water or chlorinated water, go ahead and rinse it in tap water. This will prevent the chlorinated and salt water from crystalizing in your device, again causing shorts. If your iPhone was just splashed or sprinkled, it doesn’t count. Only do this if your device was submerged and soaked.
  • Gently blow dry with a hairdryer on the lowest setting. Many articles say to never do this. They believe you are stupid and will melt your own logic boards. We think you’re smart enough to work a hair dryer.  Keep the dryer moving at all times and don’t let the phone get hot.  15 minutes should be plenty.  The idea is to evaporate the moisture without moving it across any more circuitry, exposing it to more possible short outs. The important part is to get a warm steady stream of dry air, so in theory you could even leave it in front of the heater vent overnight with the same effect.
  • Leave it alone for at least 48 hours before you even THINK of turning it back on.  If it’s going to come back to life, this is your chance. 48 hours at a miniumum, 72 is better. Utilize this time to unplug, and reconnect with your family. (Hear 1950s informational film voice.)  If the device was in the water for more than a minute, at least 6-7 days.
  • If you are stout of heart, and can stand submerging the device again you can try an alcohol bath, as FiscalGeek explains in this great article. Alcohol won’t harm your phone (any more than it’s already been harmed by the water damage), and will dry out any extra moisture in it.  You’ll need denatured alcohol. (Available at Walmart and hardware stores, usually around the paint sections.)A 95% alcohol solution is best (rubbing alcohol is around 75%), and not suitable for human consumption. Please do not submerge your phone in Cake Vodka. Or any vodka.

 

  1. Get a container slightly larger than the phone, and fill with alcohol.
  2. Remove any plugs or covers on the phone, so that the liquid can get it.
  3. Submerge your phone in the liquid. You may need to weight it down.
  4. Gently jiggle the container around to make certain the alcohol can flush out all of the water.
  5. Soak it for at least 5 minutes.  You can repeat this step if you aren’t successful the first time.
  6. Take your iphone out of the liquid and let it dry.  The alcohol evaporates very quickly but you want to be certain no water remains that can cause short-outs.

 

The overarching theme of all the research I’ve done on this leads to one point. You don’t turn that phone back on. No matter how worried you are or how upset or how much you just really really neeeed to see if you got any text messages. This is the time that short circuits can occur.  You must give it time for all that water to dry out and prevent further damage.

If after 72 hours or an alcohol bath it won’t power back on, it’s time to send it in to us. Sometimes, even if it does come back to life, it’s sustained some corrosion damage from the moisture. (What we’re aiming to prevent with the alcohol bath.)  It may power on but behave erratically with different functionalities of the phone working and not. Water damage does some weird stuff to an iPhone, like making it vibrate at the wrong times, or making the WiFi not work.

The good news is that it’s fixable. Even if Apple won’t, we fix ‘em all the time, and it’s almost always cheaper to fix a water damaged iPhone than to replace it.  (We can do it for as little as forty bucks.) You can see some of our water damage fix options here.

 

Sources:

http://techpp.com/2009/12/13/how-to-save-and-repair-your-mobile-phone-after-water-damage/

http://www.fiscalgeek.com/2009/06/ff_water_damaged_cellphone/

http://www.wikihow.com/Save-a-Wet-Cell-Phone

http://www.blogonerd.me/2011/09/what-to-do-if-your-iphone-gets-water.html

http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3302

Under: Water Damaged iPhone.

by , Tech Expert, Freelance Writer.

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