What To Do When Your Cell Phone Gets Wet

Two of the most common problems that people tend to run into when it comes to smart phone damage are a broken screen and corrosion caused moisture. No matter how careful you are at some point your cell phone will be exposed to moisture. Manufacturers make this detectable to them by placing moisture sensitive warranty stickers inside of the phone. These stickers can typically also be found inside of the battery compartment, on the battery itself, inside the headset jack, charging port and occasionally in other locations. Once your stickers turn pink, red, or any other color other than white your warranty is no longer valid.

While it may seem unfair for manufactures to make these warranty stickers so sensitive you have to understand that they do need to protect themselves against damages that they have no control over. This of course includes preventing unwarranted claims being filed against them due to problems which are neither a result of defective materials nor poor construction. When a phone has become wet or damaged because of moisture it is hardly the manufacturer’s responsibility to honor their warranty. At the same time it is very easy to activate these water sensitive stickers with a minimal amount of moisture contact. So the question then besides how to prevent your phone from getting wet is what to do when it does.

If you have been researching this question on the internet or have talked to someone who’s had a wet cell phone before you’ve probably heard about the “bag of rice” trick. The unfortunate thing about the bag of rice remedy is that is not so much a cure as it is more of a first aid procedure for a phone which is been exposed to moisture. And not a very good one at that. If you really want to know what to do when your cell phone gets wet continue reading.

It is most important to remove any power source from your phone as soon as possible. This includes the battery and charger. Of course this will be completely contrary to your first instinct which is to turn the phone on and see if it still works. In many cases this makes sense since your phone might have been exposed to a minimal amount of water or other liquid and may not in fact necessarily be damaged. However it is all often difficult to tell how far the liquid has traveled inside of your phone once it has been splashed or otherwise exposed. The exception to this rule would be when the phone has been submerged completely in which case we can assume that it has definitely gotten moisture on the interior parts of the device.

When moisture does enter the inside of your phone it becomes trapped by metal shielding which is designed to protect the components on the interior of your device. Unfortunately all of the rice in the world will not draw all of the moisture out no no matter how long you leave it sitting in a bag to dry. This is typically what we see when someone brings in a wet cell phone for repair. The phone may even continue to function properly for a day, a week, or possibly even months before the long-term effects of corrosion eventually set in.

 

I regularly encounter phone owners who are baffled by the fact that their phone is now acting up even though it’s been months since it was exposed to moisture. Once the moisture trapped inside the phone evaporates it will leave behind quite a bit of other material. Water or any other liquid that you’re likely to encounter is not as pure as you might think it is. For this reason once it evaporates it does leave behind a lot of the impurities which can cause your phone to malfunction or even stop working altogether. Salt water is especially dangerous for phones since it contains electrolytes. These electrolytes conduct electricity very well which is not a good thing when you have water the connecting different components that should not have electricity flowing through them. For this reason it is of the utmost importance that the phone is disassembled as soon as possible in order to remove any moisture that may be trapped on the inside and to also remove any debris left behind after the moisture has evaporated from your wet cell phone.

We often see phones which are left with moisture in them for so long that rust has actually begun to form around some of the components on the inside. If you want to know what not to do when your cell phone gets wet the answer is nothing. Just wait and hope for the best. Chances are that your phone will eventually die. Hopefully you have all of your information backed up and don’t mind being without a phone for a while.

If on the other hand you are hoping for the best possible outcome which is a phone that will continue to work for a long time to come then by all means get yours cleaned properly as soon as possible. If you need to put into a bag of rice temporarily that’s fine but get to a cell phone repair center or disassemble and clean your phone as soon as possible. Failure to do so will almost definitely result in permanent irreversible damage.

An interesting side note is that the two most common components to fail on a wet cell phone are the battery and the LCD. For some reason these tend to be very sensitive to liquid. Many phones also have a component located on the main logic board which sends light to the LCD. This “back light” component is also very sensitive to moisture making it even more likely that you will experience problems with your LCD if your cell phone gets wet.

5 Comments on “What To Do When Your Cell Phone Gets Wet

  1. Hi there,

    Do you happen to have any suggestions for what to do when iPhones get wet? Since there is no battery to remove, it’s hard to know what will really be able to get any water out of the phone. I dropped my iPhone in the toilet and after leaving it in a bag of rice for a few days it finally turned back on again. I have made this same suggestion to other people but it hasn’t always worked, so I was wondering if you knew of a more effective way to fix this problem.

    Thanks!

    1. It’s difficult to do very much without taking the phone apart. I will be making a liquid damage treatment video soon but it’s a bit different with each model. Which phone do you have?

  2. Hi, i have a Samsung S6 Edge with residual moisture. I Want to know if there is some procedure to clean it, and see what happened ( the phone was power on several times before ).-
    Maybe i can use alcohol isoprop.-
    Regards.-

    1. You’ll probably want to stat by removing the logic board and examine that along with the components attached to the housing with a magnifier. Check for signs of corrosion and thoroughly clean using ISO or Ronsonol and a brush- soft bristle toothbrush or horse hair- don’t be too rough though as it is possible to damage the surface mount components. If that doesn’t help you will probably want to proceed with an ultrasonic board cleaner. I don’t have a complete tutorial for this yet but as soon as I have a chance I’ll make one.

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