Science & Tech

How to save a wet cell phone

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cell phone in water
Dropping your cell phone in water doesn’t call for buying a new phone
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When a cell phone gets wet, our first instinct is to toss it in the garbage, convinced that it will never work properly again. Before you give in to frustration, consider taking the following steps to help you save a wet cell phone and the expense of purchasing a new one.

Remove The Phone From The Water

The first step is to remove the phone from the water as soon as possible. The less time the phone spends submerged, the greater chance it has of being saved. The plastic covers that come with cell phones do provide some protection, but it takes a mere twenty seconds or less for water to get through these barriers and start causing damage to your phone.

Once you pull the phone from the water, remove the battery immediately. Cutting power is a crucial step when attempting to save a wet cell phone. There are many circuits inside cell phones that can survive getting wet, but only if they are not attached to a power source.

If your cell phone comes with a SIM card, remove it promptly. Do not heat the card, simply pat it dry with a soft towel, and put it aside until the rest of your phone is dry and back to working order. The good news is that SIM cards recover well from water damage. If for some reason, your phone doesn't survive the accident but the SIM card does, there are plenty of places that sell unlocked cell phones. Simply place your SIM chip into the new phone and go.

Salt Water Accident

Please take note; if your phone was submerged in salt water, you must rinse it in fresh water before the drying process begins. Even after the phone is dry, crystals can form and continue to cause damage and erosion.

Let Your Phone Dry

The next step you must take to save a wet cell phone is to allow the phone to dry. A great method in providing an optimum drying environment is to set the phone on the vent found on the back of a television set or cable box. The low heat emitted will gently dry your cell phone. Another trick to help speed drying is to place the phone in a bowl of dry rice. This will help draw out the moisture. You can also try placing the phone in a plastic baggie with a few silica packs that come in purchases such as shoes and electronics. Silica, like rice, absorbs moisture.

The important part of the drying process is to place the phone uncovered, in a warm, dry place and allow the moisture to evaporate completely. Another alternative is to place the phone on an air conditioner. The cold air will not damage the phone and the air from an air conditioner is very dry allowing the water to evaporate quickly.

Drying should take approximately three days at which time you can check to make sure the phone is clean and dry. It is at this time that you can re attach the battery and check if the phone works. If it doesn't, wait a few more days and try again. If the phone still doesn't work, take it to your local dealer, they may be able to repair it. Be prepared; getting a cell phone wet will void your warranty and most cell phones are equipped with a water damage indicator so the dealer will know the phone has been H2O compromised.

Alternative Drying Methods

There is an alternative way to save a wet cell phone that includes an alcohol soak. Alcohol is hygroscopic which means that it attracts water. Soaking your phone in denatured alcohol, or a 95% alcohol solution (regular rubbing alcohol is about 75%), soaks up all the water in the phone. When the liquid is dumped out, only alcohol, which will evaporate, remains. Make sure that the alcohol you use is denatured with only methanol as the chemicals found in other types can be damaging. This kind of alcohol can be purchased at your local hardware store. The alcohol soak may work best for phones that have been damaged by salt water or other liquids such as coffee.

Battery Caution

When attempting to save a wet cell phone, make sure you do not heat the battery as it could leak or even explode. Lithium-ion batteries are especially sensitive. In addition, many cell phones have plastic parts that can melt. Above all, do not try to save a wet cell phone by placing it in a microwave. You will destroy the electronic components and possibly the microwave in the process.

The above steps will help to save a wet cell phone, but be prepared. Often the phone will survive but the battery will not and the purchase of a new one may be in order. Good Luck!

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