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Thread: HOWTO: Fixing Cellphones Dropped Into Water

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    HOWTO: Fixing Cellphones Dropped Into Water

    In the event that a non-waterproof cellphone/PDA/digcam accidentally gets immersed in water, you should follow these steps:

    (1) IMMEDIATELY REMOVE THE BATTERY. VERY VERY IMPORTANT! 60 seconds later and it may be too late. The battery is usually the source of damage, not just the water alone. Water+Battery = Short Circuits! So REMOVE the battery! And DONT TEST the cellphone after it's been dropped in water!
    (2) As soon as possible (preferably within 20-30 minutes). dissassemble the phone using Torx T6 screwdriver. (Get this off eBay or service depots, etc) Make an emergency trip to Sears/RadioShack/ACE/service depot/etc.
    (3) Clean/dry as much as you can, using Q-Tips
    (4) Dry the electronics components under a desk lamp on a paper towel for 24 hours. A drop of water may have gone under chips and components where you cannot dry, so you need to dry under a 40/60w desk lamp, or 24 hours under a desk fan pointed down at the disassembled components.
    (5) Reassemble the phone
    (6) Put back together
    (7) Only now it's safe to put the battery back in.
    (8) Phone may be good as new.

    Try not use a hairdryer, unless with heat turned off or at very low settings. You do not want to scorch the electronics. A hairdryer may help in some cases, but more often than not (especially with clean water), a hairdryer will usually cause more damage caused by the stresses of expansion-contraction caused by all the heat. It's best to keep things cold, to keep any contaminants in the water as chemically inactive as possible.

    If you follow these instructions, you have a reasonably good chance of a working phone after a non-waterproof phone was thrown into water.

    Yes, make that emergency trip to buy the Torx T6 if you have to. You have to disassemble the phone. Although reports some devices such as a PalmPilot, has survived in a snowbank for 7 days (luckily, its batteries were dead) after being lost in a snow-filled driveway, it is generally best to disassemble the device quickly. Clean snow/water usually means you can wait a bit longer, but pool water (chlorine) or ocean water (salt) will make is VERY URGENT to dissassemble the phone.

    SALT WATER TIP: If exposure was salt water; you may need to clean the salt water with water. (salt water is far more dangerous). This may actually mean washing the circuit board very briefly under filtered water, in order to save its life from salt water (ocean water) before immediately drying it out. This is a last resort, but NECESSARY if your electronic device was immersed in salt water (unless you have access to special electronics cleaning fluid solutions that can get rid of salt water on short notice. Sometimes filtered water is the only thing you have access to, for cleaning salt water ASAP)

    Yes, one must get rid of fear of dissassembly! RESIST trying to test the telephone -- keep the battery away -- until the phone/PDA is disassembled and dried first!

    FACT: Water almost never instantly kills a cellphone. You usually still have time to save the phone's life, especially if the water is clean!

    Water is usually never usually the source of damage in a PDA/cellphone/pager/etc that has been immersed into water. The source of damage is usually the combination of Battery+Water which causes short circuits. If there are any backup batteries inside the cellphone/PDA, those preferably must be removed too. Removing all sources of power immediately (all batteries) is the most important step in rescuing water-logged electronics!

    Also, phones that have already been exposed to water for longer periods even with the battery, are more likely to permanently stop working. For example, having been inside pockets of damp clothes or wet bags, or fallen in a rain puddle for an hour without you noticing until too late. However, remove the battery immediately anyway and dissassemble anyway. Sometimes you can still rescue electronics that has been wet with the battery for longer periods, especially if the water was clean and the electronics shut off the battery before it did any short-circuit damage.

    I've had a good success rate in rescuing waterlogged electronics by following the above simple instructions. But to improve your odds, you must act quickly to remove the battery and resist the temptation to reinsert the battery to test, not until at least 24 hours later and after disassembly. If the cellphone/PDA is still wet inside -- ZAP. It can take weeks for the inside of a cellphone/PDA to fully dry if you do not disassemble. It can take less than 24 hours to dry if you diassemble first. So dissassemble first!
    Last edited by Mark Rejhon; 03-07-2004 at 08:58 PM.
    Thanks,
    Mark Rejhon

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    Excellent guide, Mark, thanks :)
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    Good post. This deserves to be a sticky.
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    when you say filtered water i think it should be specified that you mean distilled water. Most people will think something along the lines of Britta (a home water filter device) or Poland Springs Bottled Water both of which are still mineral rich. It's what's in the water that conducts electricity (and thus causes shorts) for the most part, not the water itself.... at least in as far as lower power devices are concerned.

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    Distilled water is definitely preferable for cleaning corrosive salt water/poolwater out of electronics.

    However, one may find it necessary to briefly wash in tap water *IF* the circuit board is drenched and wet of salt water. Tap water is LESSER OF TWO EVILS compared to salt water -- because salt water rusts metals very quickly especially in the prescence of oxygen! If you don't get rid of salt water quickly, the circuit board will be a total loss very quickly and there is no time to hunt down distilled water. You sometimes only have mere minutes of time if it is salt water that got inside your electronics. It depends on how much salt water you can get rid of without having to resort to tap water. If your electronics got fully immersed in salt water and all electronics components are already fully wet in salt water, then you can wash with tap water because tap water is the lesser of two evils. Try to use distilled water, but failing that, use filtered tap water or bottled water. Failing access to that, go for raw tap water! Still lesser of two evils compared to salt water. You gotta displace the salt water immediately with fresh water to put a stop to the rapid corrosion that salt water gives...

    If the circuit board is not drenched or the circuit board is pretty flat, then drying salt water using Q-tips may be feasible. However, time is of essence, and you will probably still leave dry salt residue. Corrosion will happen over time as the circuit board is exposed to simple moisture.. You will still need to wash with some proper cleaning agent (or wet Q-tips dipped in distilled water) to clean the circuit board. Then dry with dry Q-tips. But if you do not think you can dry the salt water quickly using Q-tips (i.e. salt water got under a chip, salt water got between lots of fine chip pins), you've got to wash the circuit board quickly in this order of preference: distilled water, filtered/bottled water, or tap water. Then dry the board quickly using paper towels and dry Q-tips. Hairdryer with the heat turned off is OK. (or from a far distance at lowest heat / highest fan speed setting ... where the heat is not very noticeable) Then finally dry under a desklamp or deskfan.

    Ideally lab-quality electronic cleaning agent is best, but you can't always access that quickly enough -- and it even becomes necessary as a last resort to wash salt water-drenched electronics in tap water. In fact, if the electronic is known to be 100% nonwaterproof and completely drenched in salt water internally, and you cannot disassemble right away, then washing under tap water will still actually improve chances of recovery by a few percent. That's precisely how dangerous salt water is. In the event of salt water, you are probably out of luck if you cannot disassemble right away (electronic is as good as dead). That's why if you cannot disassemble right away and you know there is salt water inside the electronic device, then you might as well wash the electronic under a tap in the sink (if no access to distilled water, or even filtered/bottled water) because you already know it is a lost cause otherwise -- a 25% chance is still better than 5% chance!

    Some electronic components will break instantly anyway when exposed to water. Other electronics will only break when powered up while still slightly damp inside. Or only when corroded by impurities in water. The goal is to maximize your chances. You have to go for the lesser of evils at hand. For example, tap water to dissolve the highly corrosive salt water, if no access to distilled water or even filtered/bottled water. In the case of salt water, frequently tap water in this case is the only way to save the life of the electronics when the clock is ticking and you must get rid of the corrosive salt ASAP. Then once washed briefly in tap, quickly dry as much as possible and then dry under a desklamp/fan as instructed.

    In the event of other types of water than corrosive waters (salt water, and to a lesser extent, pool water), it is best to simply let dry under a desklamp or deskfan. Do not wash.

    For other fluids such as spilled juice inside electronics, which is annoyingly sticky when dried, use damp Q-tips dipped in distilled water to get rid of the sugary liquid, essentially blot out all the sugary liquid with clean water, in order to avoid sticky residue. Then dry with dry Q-tips. (If you cannot use distilled water, then you can use plain filtered water if necessary, or even tap water -- still almost always the lesser evil if you're dealing with juice which has far more contaminants than even tap water)
    Last edited by Mark Rejhon; 03-09-2004 at 01:20 AM.

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    Whoa...nice guide!

    Thanks very much. I hope I don't have to use this guide but it's good to have. :cool:
    Hi.

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    they should make this a sticky

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    Sticky!! We Want Sticky!! :hyper::hehehe::clapping::laughs:


    Good job!!

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    is it still possible to revive a phone after its been in a pool and than taken out and left to "air dry".

    my friend jumped in the pool with his v400 and i thought maybe i could save him of buyign a new phone by fixing it.

    he would have to mail me the phone though as he lives away from me.
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    oh now you tell me. I think i did evrything you said not to do. I left the battery in, i used a hair dryer, and i didnt take appart the phone.

    v12storm ur friend sounds like me, except i fell in the water with my v400. Oh well but yea. Evrything on my phone works except the inner display. You can barely make out the images on the screen. Another problem is that my phone wont charge. I replaced the battery but nothing changed. Can anyone help me out?

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    [/list]
    (QUOTE)v12storm ur friend sounds like me, except i fell in the water with my v400. Oh well but yea. Evrything on my phone works except the inner display. You can barely make out the images on the screen. Another problem is that my phone wont charge. I replaced the battery but nothing changed. Can anyone help me out?(/QUOTE)
    Nydan14: How long ago did you drop the phone?

    I had a similar situation where I fell into the pool with my less-than-a-week-old SEK700 in my pocket. I haphazardly took my phone apart and dried as much of it out as I could - and put it back together (not a great idea, the battery could have shorted my phone). After getting home, I took everything apart again and let it air dry.


    This is what I noticed:

    24 hrs after - was able to turn phone on, but still non-functional. Screen was dim at first and quickly dissappeared.

    48 hrs after - was able to turn phone on and make calls. Screen was significantly brighter/clearer but still not as sharp as it was when new. All functions were operable, only the screen was slightly dim.

    Hope this helps - there is hope!:rolleyes:

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    i fell in the pool about a month ago. I doubt that it can be saved but miracles do happen right? lol

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    Phone Fell in Pool

    WOW I had the same thing happened to me this weekend.

    It happened Saturday night late hours.... around 3:00m.

    I friend of mine was to drunk and threw me in the pool. I had my LG 5450 in my hand at that time. I freaked right out. I've only had the phone for 6 months.

    I took the BATT off right away but did not open it . The next day Sunday morning I took it outside side and left in the Sun for 3 hours. After I moved it under a tree with a cool breeze coming from the lake.

    Monday and Tuesday I did the same thing, left the phone dry.

    Today Wed when I came home I decided to put the Batt back on. Tried to turn my phone on but nothing happend. I decided to take a drive to Future Shop and try one of the Batt's to see if my LG turns on.... and Guessssssssss what...
    It turned and it looked more than fine! Everything was working normal. I asked the sales rep and he told me that my BATT was fried. A little red button in the back of the BATT indicated that. I said kewl can I buy a batt from here. He told the I had to go to a Telus store to pick one up.

    So here I am all excited now driving to a Telus store, when I decided to call the store and make sure that they have a BATT for my phone. I told the person I spoke to what happened and she instantly tells me that the BAtT costs $100 and if I was you I wouldn't buy it. Your phone is FINISHED. I asked her why is that? She told me that corrosion will built up and my phone will stop working eventually. I asked her if this was 100% for sure... She told me almost 100%....

    I also talked toa friend of mine and he kinda told me the same thing. Now I don't know what to do... Do I take the risk and buy a BATT for $100 or do I buy a new phone? If I buy the BATT and my phone dies in 1 month, than I'm losing more money buying a new phone + the BATT expense....

    I need your help guys cause tomorrow I will be making a decision... Right now I am leaning towards buying a new phone but if someone can enlighten me here, I'd me more than happy to take an opinion....

    Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee helppppppppppppppp me I really like this phone.....:( :( :( :(

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    Anyone please?

    Off work at 5 and either going to buy a new phone or buy a BATT......

    All the Telus agents tell me that my phone is FINISHED and not to buy a BATT.....

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    Get Tmobile instead ^^ better phones, cheaper batteries hehe

    But check ebay 1st for a battery.. chances are the phone ISNT fried.. and if it did fry soon.. chances are it will do that after your year is up ;) Which case upgrade.

    Or check to see what phones are in the 100$ range on ebay, see if its better or not.

    But if you do get the battery. It should be ok.

    I mean dont let your friend die since you talk to it alot. I know if my 3650 fried.. id cry lol.

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