How to Fix a Water Damaged Phone (Even When it Drops in Dirty Water)

May 24, 2018

How to Fix a Water Damaged Phone (Even When it Drops in Dirty Water)

We’re not the type to make up statistics, but we’ll assume that 100% of all phone users would experience a fit of panic if their phone fell in water. If it’s happened already, you probably told yourself that it’s “game over”.

Those of photos of you in Australia? Gone. The work documents you write on the bus trip to the office at the last minute? Gone. Your texts with that significant-other-in-the-making? Gone.

Well here’s the good news. If you backed everything up - you should be okay. But more importantly, phones don’t die upon immediate contact with water, meaning you can fix them even when there’s significant damage.

You just have to act fast and take the right steps.

What Happens to a Phone When it Falls in Water

Water turns into a phone’s kryptonite when it works its way into the ports, jacks and speakers. Once inside, it flows into the circuits. The result? The water, which acts as a conductor, carries a current which then overloads the phone with energy, frying the circuit board.

Certain practices make this worse, such as allowing the phone to dry on its own. Letting water sit in the phone leads to corrosion of its circuits, coils and resistors due to minerals in the water.

This one throws people off too because the damage isn’t immediately apparent in all cases. Sometimes, the water might take a little longer to reach vulnerable components. That’s why someone can drop their phone in water without any noticeable effects. But the following day, those poor souls won’t be able to turn on their phones.

The other thing to keep in mind is the source of water. Dropping your phone in a puddle or the toilet is bad, but dropping it in the ocean, and you can kiss that phone goodbye. Salt water is highly corrosive and will damage a phone’s components much quicker than freshwater. So be careful when taking selfies on your yacht.

Emergency Response - Saving a Water Damaged Phone Quickly

Now explanations are great but solutions matter way more. Water doesn’t waste its time in circulating through your phone, and the damage it causes is never far away. So if your phone fell in water, you need to act fast.

Rescue Phase

  • Immediately take it out (you knew this) and turn it off
  • Wipe it clean (using gloves if necessary) with sanitizer and microfiber cloth
  • Dry the phone as dry as possible
  • Remove battery (if it’s removable), SIM card and headphones/cords
  • Sit the phone upright if you can’t remove the battery

At this stage, you can use our Screen Shine and along with a microfiber cloth to dry and disinfect your device.

DON’T DO THESE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES (People actually do these things)

  • Dry your phone in the microwave - Very dangerous and can start a fire.
  • Don’t put your phone in the freezer - Once you remove it and the ice melts, you’re back to square one.
  • Use a hair dryer to dry your water damaged phone - The heat can fry already blown-out circuits.
  • Put your phone near a radiator - See above.
  • Put it in a bag of rice (because it doesn’t help much) - Studies and experiments have shown that rice treatment doesn’t work too great. They can pull some water out, but usually not fast enough to counteract the corrosion that comes with water damage.

Take Your Water Damaged Phone to a Trusted Repair Shop 

Here’s the truth - simply allowing your phone to dry off completely on its own isn’t a good idea. Remember, water does its damage under the surface where your hands can’t reach. Power to you if you’re mechanically-inclined and repair your own devices, but if you can’t, let the experts do the dirty work. 

If the phone is completely fried (it won’t turn on), check to see if you still have warranty for it. If you do, great. If not, you might have to bite the bullet and send the device to the manufacturer to repair it. That usually comes with a fee. 

If the phone still works, with glitches or not, you can take it to major electronic chains or local repair shops. Best Buy’s Geek Squad offers repair services that cover phones as well. And if you’re looking for discount prices, you can always check out your local “ma and pa” store that repairs electronics. 

Practical Tips to Prevent Water Damage Going Forward

Dropping a phone in water happens to the best of us. With that said, some people just seem to have their you-know-what together and don’t seem to have these accidents. A few simple tips can put you in their league and keep your phone dry. 

Practical Tips for Keeping Your Phone Water Damage Free

  • Get a water-resistant case or phone - There’s no such as waterproof cases or phones, but water resistant phones can survive a brief drop in water with no harm done. The keyword here is brief.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings - You’ll most likely have the experience of having dropped your phone in water at some point, or at least a close call. So hold your phone tighter or put it in your pocket if you’re walking on or near watery surfaces.
  • Stop toilet texting - Browsing sessions and texting rallies always seem more urgent than they really are. Keep them out the John. Nothing seems like it can wait until you have no choice but to wait (in this case to get the phone repaired).

What’s the Prognosis for a Phone That Fell in Water?

Assuming you respond quickly, it will live. Follow the tips mentioned above, and even serious water damage shouldn’t leave your phone completely sidelined. The worst that might happen is a temporary vacation from your device while it’s under repair, and having to use an old-school, loaner flip phone.

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