Liquid Damage – Do’s and Do Not’s

Liquid Damage: Every phone owner’s worst nightmare.  While there is no guarantee that anything will save your phone and/or your data, there are some steps that you can take to improve your odds.

Cell Phone Repair Gadget Lab

After pulling your device out of the pool, the washing machine, your morning cup of coffee, or (Yikes!) the toilet, there are actions that you should take immediately to increase the possibility of saving your device.

First and Foremost…

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TURN ON OR PLUG IN YOUR DEVICE! Many people feel the urge to see if their device is still working.  This is the worst thing you can do.  It is the electricity in the device that is likely to cause the most damage. Water acts as a conductor for electricity and connects metal parts of the phone that should be kept apart.  Worst case scenario, the motherboard (the brain of the phone) will short out.  This will render your device useless, and all your data could be lost forever.

Do:  Leave the device powered off.  If possible, remove the battery to ensure that the device is indeed powered off.  Now is when patience will prove to be a virtue.

Next…

There is a theory that placing your device in rice will suck the moisture right out and voila!  Good as new!  While we appreciate rice for its amazing contribution to Sushi, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THE “BAG OF RICE” TRICK.  There are a number of reasons why.  Not only do the tiny grains of rice threaten to get stuck in any small cavities present on the device (charging port, headphone jack, speakers, etc.), but the fine starchy powder can actually cause build up inside the device and can contribute to, not help prevent, corrosion.  Finally, rice can take DAYS to absorb the moisture from the inner workings of your phone.  That is WAY LONGER than it will take for the harmful corrosion to form.

We also recommend that you avoid the use of hair dryers, heat guns, and the like.  While, in concept, a hair dryer might seem like a brilliant idea, it is more likely to do damage than good.  There are a lot of delicate parts in your phone, and the heat supplied by a hairdryer, even on the lowest setting, can melt, warp or destroy some essential components inside your gadget.  Also, lithium ion battery + heat… not a good idea AT ALL (cough, cough… Samsung Note 7).

Do:  After wiping any visible moisture away, place your device in a sealed plastic bag with Silica Gel packs.  You know, the little packets that come in beef jerky, shoes, small electronics, etc. that say “DO NOT EAT” all over them.  Silica Gel packets are designed to eliminate moisture from products and they come in neat little sacks that don’t threaten to clog your charging port.  The more you can find, the better.

silica gel cell phone

At this point…

You can leave your phone in the bag of Silica Gel for a few days and see what fate has in store for your device. There are, however, some additional actions you can take to attempt to save your device and/or the data stored on it.

If your device is still wet… There is now a “wet phone recovery technology” popping up as kiosks across the country.  This service is currently available in our area from two competing companies: TekDry and Redux.   Depending on your location, and how recently you got your phone wet, this may be the solution for you. These machines work by placing your device inside a vacuum chamber, reducing the boiling point of the water, and vaporizing the liquid out of the device in as little as 30-60 minutes. Though this is a new technology, TekDry boasts a 70% success rate at reviving a liquid damaged device.  Prices vary, but if the process is unsuccessful, you pay only a ‘nominal diagnostic fee’.

If it has been more than a couple of hours since your phone got wet… Your best bet at this point is to take your device into your local repair shop.  They can take steps to get your device dry, remove existing corrosion, or replace damaged parts.  While most repair shops do not guarantee work done on devices that have suffered liquid damage, they may be your best bet.

A last resort…

So your phone is completely dead.  You have tried everything, and now your data is gone forever.  Or is it?  There may be one more option available.  If your missing data is extremely important, and money is no object, then data recovery may be your next step.  Ask your local repair shop if they know of, or are partnered with, a reputable data recovery company.  There are a few drawbacks to this process. Costs vary, sometimes soaring into the thousands for a successful recovery. And the process can take weeks or months to complete.  As with every other process listed above, there is no guarantee of success, but if your data is priceless to you, then it may be the way to go.

Prevention… 

Maybe you work on a fishing boat. Or perhaps you respond best to work emails while visiting the porcelain palace. We aren’t here to judge!  No matter your lifestyle, you may want to consider a waterproof case for your phone.  There are a number of reputable manufacturers, including Otter Box and LifeProof, that we recommend. A quality case can help you avoid damaging your phone and losing your data.  After all, liquid damage is an area where being proactive can really pay off.

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