Have you ever dropped your cell phone in the sink, or even worse... the toilet? Did you ever leave it in your pocket and run it through the washer? Did you ever swim with your cell phone in your pocket? Ever have it fall into the pet's water bowl? Getting your cell phone wet usually means you have to replace it, but sometimes if you're fast enough, you might be able to save the phone! Follow the steps outlined in this article to try and save your wet cell phone.
- Try removing all the cell phone parts, and then put into dry rice.
- Try an alcohol bath-remove all parts (battery, Sim card, etc) and place your phone face down in a small container and cover it with rubbing alcohol. This will not harm your phone and should dry it out and remove any moisture. I manage the cell phones for a large company and this has worked for me on more than one occasion. You can repeat if necessary.
- Being on and wet at the same time can short out the phone's circuitry. If you're able to turn your phone off before it fries, you may well be able to resuscitate your drowned phone!
- Excessive heat can damage your phone even more! Most phones have warnings about leaving them in your car or exposing them to heat. The main point is to completely dry the phone before applying power. Be patient! Use a vacuum cleaner to rapidly draw all the residual moisture out, this usually takes about 20 minutes of care and patience turning the phone every few minutes to ensure all holes and outlets get accessed.
- It is very important that you keep drying it after it starts working and after you think all of the water is out. It isn't. Placing the phone in a very dry environment (in front of a working heater unit or in front of warm, moving air) for a long period of time is as important as is the initial vacuum removal of the bulk of the water. Hint, if you have to stand there doing something to the phone constantly, you will get bored or tired before you've done enough of it. Use a method that lets you leave it for hours.
- If your phone falls in the ocean or another form of salt water, rinse it with fresh water before salt crystals can form in the phone after the removal of the battery.
- It is possible to purchase commercial "wet cell phone emergency" kits. It's probably best to buy one "just in case" as you can waste valuable time going to the store to buy one.
- If your phone has been subjected to salt water crystallizing, gently tap the board and the chips with a plastic object (the back of a small screw driver for example). The vibration of the taps will set some of the foreign objects free and they will fall out. Be careful and don't smash the board or the chips. A sharp enough blow will break the chips. Tapping very gently multiple times in multiple locations, especially around the chips, is a preferred method. And follow up with appropriate solvent cleaning afterwords to clean away any oxidation residue.
- Place the phone in a vacuum chamber (found at many high schools and universities) and activate the chamber. Typically universities and specific industries will have a vacuum chamber available if you happen to know the right person. Water "boils" at room temperature, given enough time, meaning that it evaporates through bubbles even though it isn't heated. This method should be successful when the vacuum is maintained at room temperature for about 30 minutes. That will dry out parts you can't access as will the tip above regarding a vacuum cleaner if you have no vacuum chamber available.
- Try holding a compressed air can straight (upside down, sideways, or at an angle will shoot out a freezing liquid) and shoot into the crevices, speaker, mic, and keypad. Any excess water stuck should come out. If the can gets cold and you're not done, let the can sit a while before continuing, as cold air could make excess moisture condense onto parts deeper inside. This process should be followed by the other methods that use a vacuum chamber or vacuum cleaner to more thoroughly remove any deeper residual moisture and humidity as the phone must be totally dry inside to ensure no further failure later on. The contents of many "canned air" products can be poisonous. Follow all recommendations on the can label.
- Since your warranty is void anyway, if you have further problems with your phone's functions after trying the above methods to dry it out, then buy Torx screwdrivers to open the phone's case, since these are almost always specialized. (For example, the RAZR needs Torx #4, #5, and #6). Pick up a can of contact spray (electric contact cleaner)and douse the inside. It dries rapidly. Scrub any residue with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Spray with compressed air, and/or vacuum it out for several minutes to suck out further moisture and then carefully put it back together.
- Take the phone with you on a long flight. The very dry air in the cabin is great for drying out the phone. One round trip from London to Singapore completely cured my blackberry after a dunking.
- Another idea is to keep the phone at body temperature for a few hours. As in... next to your skin. The warmth and air flow around the phone may dry it out if it was not submerged to start with.
- Do not leave your phone wet for an extended period of time. Dry it out as soon as possible.
- Do not switch the phone on. This is important as it will prevent a charge from running from the battery to the phone which may subsequently cause the phone to short circuit.
- Don't heat the battery or it could leak or explode. Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive. If you use a hairdryer, make sure to remove the battery first. Note that it is not recommended to apply heat to the phone.
- If you use alcohol make sure to do so outside, and do not apply heat in any form, not even the gentle heat of a monitor. Do not hook up the battery until the alcohol smell dissipates.
- Do not apply too much heat to your phone, as mentioned above. You don't want to melt or burn your phone.
- Do not put your phone in an oven or microwave to dry it out.
- Be warned that manufacturers of most modern cell phones place liquid damage indicator stickers that will change colors in the presence of a liquid inside their phones. This helps technicians know that you have dropped your phone in water, as most cell phone insurance coverage policies don't cover water damage. Chances are, if the sticker under the battery is triggered, then the internal stickers you can't access have probably been tripped as well. This will result in you paying a voided-warranty fee in the long run. You should be aware that warranties don't cover water damage, only insurance does, and even then, not all insurance companies or plans will honor water damaged phones. It is also worth noting that these liquid damage indicator stickers have been known to change colors in extreme humidity as well.
- Even if all these steps are followed, minerals dissolved in the water can precipitate on solder and component pins, causing corrosion or shorting. Component pins are packed so closely together in modern cell phones that even a small encrustation can create a short, rendering the phone inoperable.
- Do not put the phone (or any electronic or metal-containing object) into the microwave. You will destroy electronic components and potentially the microwave, and perhaps start a fire in your house. Not good.
- For the semi-mechanically inclined: remove screws and, at a minimum, crack the case open to allow moisture to escape. Cell phones are normally somewhat waterproof, so they can be used in the light rain and in humid environments. This means that once has entered the phone, it is very hard for it to dry out.
- Removing your cell phone from the water quickly and immediately removing the battery gives you the best chance of saving your phone.