How to rescue a smartphone from water damage

In addition to all the required tasks IT professionals must perform during their workday, there are times when they are asked to go above and beyond. How many find themselves pressed into doing emergency tech surgery for a worker whose smartphone has found its way submerged in water — or other liquids? Or, more likely, you may find yourself doing emergency tech surgery on your own phone that suffered a watery mishap.

Most smartphones aren’t water resistant and the results could be fatal if they come in contact with water. A swimming pool, a toilet bowl, or any other bodies of water are not the only potential threats to your mobile device. Often, even slight exposure to rain for a few minutes is all it takes to kill a smartphone. When such an incident happens, it’s common to panic and start frantically tapping on all the buttons of the device in an attempt to turn it back on. But these actions will just lessen the chances of a mobile device’s survival.

Before getting started with the methods to revive a water-damaged smartphone, let’s have a look at the things you need to strictly avoid doing.

What NOT to do in case of water damage

  • First and the foremost: Don’t panic.
  • Do not fumble with your smartphone’s buttons in an attempt to turn it back on.
  • Never try to charge your device after it comes in contact with water. This might fry the innards of the phone, killing any possible chances of bringing it back to life.
  • Never try to blow dry using a hair dryer or expose your phone to heat, as this could damage the screen and other internals of the device.

Here are few of the most effective do-it-yourself methods of reviving a smartphone after it hits the water. None of these methods will void your smartphone’s warranty. However, in most cases, your warranty is already voided in case of water damage.

Act quicklywater damaged mobiles

When your smartphone is exposed to water, the first thing you need to do is remove the battery. If you use an iPhone or other smartphone whose battery cannot be removed, power off the device gently to prevent the possibility of a short circuit.

If you have a SIM card or a memory card in your mobile, remove them as soon as you can. Even if your device is beyond repair, your SIM or memory card can still retain some valuable data such as contacts, images, and more.

Drain the water as fast as you can

Now, it’s time to get the water out. The longer the water stays inside, the higher the possibility that it will damage the phone. Once the battery is removed, the next thing you have to do is dry the device as quickly as possible. If you let moisture in a water-soaked phone evaporate naturally, it might corrode the device from inside. Drying a smartphone doesn’t mean that you expose it to direct sunlight for hours or blow dry it using a hair dryer. Direct exposure to heat can damage the screen and other internals of your phone. Instead, use a compressed air canister to try to gently blow the water out from the same channel from which it entered. Also use some absorbent towels to remove as much water as possible. When this step is done, your phone may look dry, but be careful. Do not turn it back on. I know it’s tempting to power on the device and check whether it’s functioning or not. But this might cause a short circuit in the device. There are still more steps you must do.

Use a desiccantsmartphone water damage

A desiccant is a drying substance that absorbs moisture from surroundings. Once you have blown out the moisture and cleaned it completely, it’s time to use some desiccants to remove the moisture from the internals of a device. The most commonly used desiccants are Silica gel packets.

Another desiccant is uncooked rice, which comes with hygroscopic properties of absorbing moisture from surroundings.

bheestiePlace your phone in an airtight container, completely covered in uncooked rice or silica gel packets. Leave the container covered for 24-48 hours, giving the desiccant time to suck out all the moisture from the hard to reach innards of the smartphone. You can also use moisture-absorbing bags such as Bheestie bags, which are specifically designed to dry out wet mobile phones.

Again, make sure that once you place your device in rice or silica gel, you do not open the container for at least 24 hours.

Reassemble the phone

Finally, when you’re confident that the phone is dried out completely, place your battery back and try switching on the device. If it doesn’t turn on, try charging it for a while or try using another battery. If nothing helps, the last resort would be to get the phone to the store or carrier where it was bought or a third-party service center.

Even if you are successful in reviving the smartphone, there is no guarantee about how it will perform in a long run. If the metal components within your phone came in contact with water and oxygen, they could form rust within the device that might eventually kill it. So if you’re lucky enough to get the phone powered up, it would be wise to make a complete data backup.

On a final note, remember that prevention is better than the cure. You could try picking a waterproof device in case you like hitting the pools or beaches often, or are just plain clumsy. For other folks who are on a tight budget, a waterproof case will raise the chances that your phone will survive such accidents. And last but not the least, always back up your data regularly.

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3 thoughts on “How to rescue a smartphone from water damage”

  1. This is terrible advice, the last thing you want to do is put your phone in rice. I really wish this myth would just die off. The very first thing is to turn the phone off and leave it off. If you can remove the battery great. If seal unit take it to a certified tech. The phone needs to be taken apart and soaked in alcohol then lighting wiped down with a que tip. The logic board/mother board and all the connectors. Then take a heat gun to the components. Not to over heat, just to make sure everything is dried out. Put the phone back together and hope everything comes back. When you put a water damaged phone in something like rice to pull out the moisture. what happens is it leaves behind mineral deposits from the water which kills the phone.

  2. Sukesh Mudrakola

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your feedback. I do agree with most of your stated points on saving a phone from water damage. However, not all common users can follow the tips you’ve mentioned. They can be done by technicians with all the right set of knowledge and tools. And what i’ve mentioned here in the post, is like a first line remidy, which can be performed by anyone.
    And yes, there is a risk of internals getting corroded due to minerals left over in the phone, but a desiccant is very handy, if you cannot dissassemble the phone.
    Sukesh M.

  3. Lovely post!!
    Very informative blog. I gained a lot of information about mobile repairing. Thanks for sharing this post here with us.

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