Speed is the Key to Saving a Water Damaged Cell Phone

A few months ago I wrote a post about why water damage repairs often fail. It also mentioned why we stopped offering liquid damage service. Since then I’ve been in contact with a few people and companies that have let me know the problem with most water damage repairs and how we could drastically improve upon our old process. So like Justin Timberlake might say, we’re bringing water damage back.

What does water damage do to a phone?

Speed is the Key to Water Damage Repairs.
Speed is the Key to Water Damage Repairs.

A water damaged phone can end up suffering from a couple of problems:

  1. Water and electricity don’t play particularly well together. The water in the phone may cause permanent damage to various electrical components.
  2. A much more common problem is corrosion. This damage isn’t immediately visible. In fact, it’s quite common for a phone to initially work after it’s been dropped in water and dried out. Then 2, 3, or 4 weeks in the future the phone stops working. This is because the moisture in the phone isn’t really gone. It’s trapped inside and corroding the metal. Think of it like rust on a car. It doesn’t happen all at once but over time. Same thing with a wet phone. And once the corrosion has hit a certain level, it starts to short out connections on the phone’s motherboard. Not good.

How can you stop these problems?

The way save your phone is two-fold.

First, stop the electric current from coursing through the phone. On a non-iPhone this is simple – remove the battery immediately. This is a lot harder to do with an iPhone because special tools are required to remove the battery, so just turn it off right away. It’s not as good as removing the battery, but better than leaving the phone on. One other thing:┬áDon’t plug the phone into a charger. That’s the cell phone equivalent of giving a hyperactive 10 year old a bag of Pixie Stix right before church. Fire and brimstone may rain down.

Next up you need to remove 100% of the moisture from the phone before corrosion gets started.

Unfortunately, truly drying your phone out isn’t something most people can do at home. Putting your phone in a bag of rice or hitting it with a hair dryer (two common suggestions) aren’t really the solutions. Neither one fully dries your phone out. Rice can be particularly bad because of the starch. Starch and water make a nice slurry solution that is not good for your phones charging port, headphone jack, buttons, or anything else.

The only really good way to dry a phone out before corrosion begins is to get it into a heated vacuum within 72 hours. After that, chances of success – regardless of the method you use – go down significantly because the corrosion on your phone’s motherboard has begun. Drying it out at that point won’t reverse the process.

Why a heated vacuum?

You want the liquid water inside the phone to evaporate and then have the resulting water vapor sucked out of the phone. Simply heating the phone (the old hair dryer technique) doesn’t work because, without a vacuum to pull the vapor out, some of it will get trapped inside the phone and as soon as it cools back down, the vapor will condense, turn back into liquid, deposit itself on the motherboard, and begin corrosion’s evil bidding.

What to do if your phone gets wet.

There’s a simple 2 step process to save your precious (and expensive) cell phone after it gets dunked.

  1. Remove the battery immediately if you can. If you have an iPhone (where the battery is tricky to remove), power the device off right away. Do NOT attempt to turn your device back on and see if it works.
  2. Get it to a repair store as fast as possible. Do NOT put it in a bag of rice. Just bring it in. Make sure the repair store you select uses a heated vacuum chamber to dry the phone out completely.

If you follow those two steps, the odds of saving your smartphone from any long-term problems are fantastic.

Shameless plug

JCD Repair is now offering this heated vacuum water damage repair service for just $50. The process takes about 45 minutes and you only pay if it works. It also comes with a 90 day warranty. That link is for an iPhone repair but to be honest, we could try this on any cell phone that exists. Just get it to us as quickly as possible.