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How to save a wet cell phone

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dr_jimit

Journeyman
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? It usually means you have to replace your phone, but sometimes if you're fast, you can save the phone!

Steps:

Get it out of the water as soon as possible. The plastic covers on cell phones are fairly tight, but water can enter the phone over time. But this time may be quite short - 20 seconds or less. So grab your phone quickly!
Remove the battery. This is one of the most important steps. Don't take time to think about it; electricity and water do not mix. Cutting power to your phone is a crucial first step in saving it. Many circuits inside the phone will survive immersion in water provided they are not attached to a power source when wet.

Remove your SIM card. Some or all of your valuable contacts (along with other data) could be stored on your SIM. To some people this could be more worth saving than the phone itself. SIM cards survive water damage well. Just pat it dry and leave it aside until you need to connect your phone to your cellular network.

Dry your phone. Obviously you need to remove as much of the water as soon as possible, so you can save it from getting into the phone. Use a towel or paper towel to remove as much water as possible.

Allow the phone to dry. Since you do not want to ruin your phone or lose all of the numbers in your phone book, you need to allow the phone to dry. Also, ringtones and graphics stay with the phone - not the SIM. Don't try putting the battery back on to see if it works as this would risk damaging the phone with a short circuit. Put the phone into a bowl of rice to dry it. If you have a gas oven, just let it dry on the rack. Do not turn the oven on! it is very dry in a gas oven and it is a great way to dry out a soaked phone.
Wait. This is the hardest part - leaving your phone alone, with battery and SIM card out, while it dries slowly. Tricks like leaving your phone in a bowl of dry rice or silica gel (like the packets found in shoe boxes) will help to expedite moisture evaporation. They might also have side effects like getting rice in your phone. Just put it someplace reasonably warm and dry, uncovered so water can evaporate, and wait.

Test your phone. After you have waited 10 minutes after ur damn sure that its dry, make sure everything is clean and dry and re-attach the battery to the phone and see if it works. If your phone does not work, try plugging it into its charger without the battery. If this works, you need a new battery, if not, wait another few days. If it still won't work, try taking your cell phone to an authorized dealer. Sometimes they can fix it.



Alternate Alcohol Soak Method

Dry your phone by soaking it in alcohol or flush out contaminants with distilled water. This method is controversial and considered risky by some, but the proponents believe in it strongly. Using alcohol is more effective than distilled water because not only does it displace the water and sediments, it also evaporates faster with less residue. It will not harm your mobile phone. Preferably, use denatured alcohol or a 95% alcohol solution. Denatured alcohol may be purchased at any hardware store and is used to clean electronics because it evaporates quickly and leaves no residue. You should check to see what the alcohol is denatured with. If it is anything other than methanol (some are denatured with very hazardous chemicals such as methyl ethylene ketone [MEK]) you should not use it, as some denaturants can melt plastics. Most drugstores or larger retailers carry 91% rubbing alcohol. Regular rubbing alcohol is only 70% and is not recommended. Distilled water won't displace water (it is water) but it will dilute minerals and salts that conduct electricity, which cause "short circuits". Prolonged exposure to other liquids will cause corrosion of the copper traces within the mobile phone and will most likely cease its operation.


Rice Method

To dry your phone more quickly than room temperature air can manage, immerse it in a can of dry, uncooked rice. The rice will absorb excess moisture, drying your phone from the inside out.
If you're very careful, you can use the rice to heat your phone gently and speed the drying process further. Put the dismantled phone in a bowl of rice. Put that bowl into a pot, and put that pot on top of a smaller pot with a bit of water in it, so you don't burn the pot. Allow about an hour, and make sure you don't overheat it. A thermometer placed in the rice shouldn't go over 100F (40C). You may need to cool and reheat a few times.



Tips


If you have a stove with a halogen light or a light used to warm food, take out the battery and SIM card and let the phone sit under it for 10-15 minutes. Not too close though; it could get too hot and fry.

Another method of drying out the phone it to remove the back and the battery, and put the wet phone on your dashboard in your car. Car should be parked in a place where it will get warm and the dash will get hot. After a couple of hours, remove your phone and see if the screen is fogged up. If it is, put it back on the dash. If not, try to put the battery in and boot up the phone.

Another method for drying the phone is to set it on top of the vent of a cable box, monitor or TV for at least 24 hours (up to 3 days). The low heat emitted is enough to gently dry out the phone.

The longer your phone is wet the more likely it is to be damaged. To dry your phone more quickly than room temperature air can manage, immerse it in a can of dry, uncooked rice. The rice will absorb excess moisture, drying your phone from the inside out.

Don't put the battery in for at least three days, or longer if your digital screen is foggy.

An alternate drying technique is to seal the phone (battery, SIM card, SD card all removed) in a plastic bag with a few of the silica packs that come packed with shoes, coats, electronics. Leave the phone in the bag for a day or 2, and the silica packs will absorb the moisture.

The silica method works! Go to local craft store and purchase flower drying kit. Silica contained in this kit is like sand, spread on bottom of tupperware container and place a piece of tissue paper on top to lay your cell phone on without laying in the silica sand. Seal up tupperware and let sit for three days.

The new crystal cat litter works as well as silica, and if you put all phone parts inside a sock or knee high pantyhose and bury it in a new, clean container, it will dry out in just a day or so.

If your phone falls in the ocean or other salt water, rinse with fresh water before crystals can form after removing battery.

If your phone has been subjected to salt water crystalizing, gently tap the board and the chips with a plastic object (back of the 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.
Try opening your phone if you can. You'll probably need a TORX screwdriver for that, but it's worth it. This may void your warranty, but it is likely the water damage already has.

It is likely that the dunk in water will kill the battery. Fortunately you can buy another for 20 to 40 US dollars. The phone itself usually survives.
Corrosion is a threat. You may want to consider soaking your phone in distilled water to wash away any minerals it picked up from the original water.
If you know someone at your local high school's physics department, try putting your wet cell phone in the vacuum chamber at 2 psi for 1 hour. That will dry out parts you can't access.

Try holding a compressed air can STRAIGHT (upside down, sideways, or at an angle will shoot out a freezing liquid) and shoot into the crevaces, speaker, mic, and keypad. Any exess 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 exess moisture condense onto parts.

If there is no rice or sillica gel around, wrap the cell phone in paper towels. It doesn't work nearly as well, but it's better than nothing.

Use a hair dryer or other blow dryer to speed up the process.

Since your warranty is void anyway, buy (RAZR needs Torx #4, #5, and #6) screwdrivers to open your case, since these are almost always specialized. 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 put it back together.

If it still doesn't work, and it's within warranty,(I don't advocate being dishonest, but you paid for it), take your phone apart, and remove your now-pink stickers (Motorola gets these from 3M. Don't count on buying these easily.) Get a hole-punch and some glossy paper (or laminate some paper), punch a few holes and stick them where the old stickers were (you can also pull them off old cell phones). Turn your phone in for repair after making sure all of the water evidence is gone.

In most cases, if you pulled the battery out in time, cleaning the inside with alcohol or contact spray will fix your problem. If there is even ONE drop of water left inside, it can ruin your phone by making the wrong contact. If your phone is still acting strange after you have cleaned it, then you've missed some liquid. (I have repaired MANY Motorola products just by cleaning the boards with contact spray, a toothbrush, and compressed air.)

Place the phone in a vacuum chamber and active 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.
 

infra_red_dude

Wire muncher!
One more suggestion. All those SE phone users can open up the battery and look for a small white patch beside the terminals. This is the indicator for warranty claims against wet phones.

When that patch comes in contact with water, it turns pink. Hence, tape the small white patch off as soon as you buy the phone.
 

radonryder

Broken In
Rice method works best....
its pretty old.
it saved my sis phone once.
she was about to pop it in the microwave...

@rohan_shenoy
i dont think this applies to this sort of thread.
when you compile a tutorial from scratch i dont think
the source has to be mentioned......
plus this tut is quite old...
dont think microsoft is the original source...
 
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