Some things just don’t mix. For starters, there’s the proverbial oil and water. No matter how much you stir oil and water in one container, they will continue to separate. Another example in this modern age is water and electronics.
Most smartphone owners or someone they know have had the unfortunate experience of dropping their phone into water. While some people can spare their phone by making a quick recovery, other phones may be compromised or completely unusable. The main problem when a phone hits water is corrosion. Because of water-induced corrosion, a $700 smartphone can quickly become an expensive paperweight.
Corrosion refers to the slow breakdown of material, such as metal, due to a chemical reaction with the environment. Corrosion usually occurs when metal is combined with water and oxygen, creating iron oxide or rust. Corrosion may occur in an unspecified time frame, which means it could start immediately after the exposure to water or up to several days later. The speed of corrosion depends on the level of humidity, the extent of the water damage, the way the device was manufactured, and the length of time an electronic device is submerged under water.
Depending on the aforementioned factors, a corroded electronic device could still be saved. To clean the device, start by removing the power connectors or batteries in order to prevent any short-circuiting that could prove dangerous. When you remove the power connectors or batteries, exercise caution because you will be exposing other connectors.
You can clean the water-damaged device by doing the following:
- Look for white or green crusty areas – You will find these areas on the battery connectors and other metal connectors in the device.
- Use cotton swabs with cleaning solution to remove corrosion – You can dip the cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol, a mixture of water and baking soda, or vinegar to clean the corrosion. Apply the solution to the stained or colored areas and wipe until you are able to remove the corrosion. If necessary, repeat the procedure later.
- Dry the electronic device with a soft cloth or hair dryer set on the cool setting. Heating the device could melt some of the solders.
- Replace the battery after you have completely dried the device. Turn on the device.
There’s no guarantee that your device will function again, but it certainly never hurts to try. If it does work, you’ll be able to spare your pocketbook the agony of replacement costs.