Corrosion: What is Water Damage Really Doing to Your Electronics?

Corrosion: What is Water Damage Really Doing to Your Electronics?

Imagine the following scenario: You are washing the dishes, listening to music on your iPhone 4S, when all of a sudden the unthinkable happens – the phone that was nestled safely in your shirt pocket tumbles out and into a sink is full of soapy water and dirty dishes. You manage to frantically retrieve your precious phone from its watery grave, dry it off, and find that somehow it is still working! It’s a miracle! All is well in the world of potential water damage… until two days later, when, for no apparent reason, your iPhone now doesn’t work. Your miracle has turned into a nightmare. Water damage: 1. You: 0.

The Science Behind Your Delayed Nightmare

Last month HZO talked a little bit about the science behind water damage, discussing some of the reasons why electronics and water just don’t mix. One of the reasons we mentioned is the hidden and most puzzling cause of water damage: corrosion. Corrosion is the gradual breakdown of material, usually metal, by a chemical reaction with its environment. The most common form of corrosion occurs with you combine metal with water and oxygen, creating iron oxide (or what is more commonly known as rust). There is no specific time frame in which deterioration happens; a device can begin corroding a few hours after the initial water damage incident, or it can last days unaffected before showing any signs that there is a problem. How fast it sets in depends on humidity levels, the severity of the water damage, how long the device was submerged, and even how the device is made. All of these factors significantly affect the time frame under consideration for a water damaged device.

Cleaning Corrosion After Water Damage

When it comes to cleaning up corrosion after water damage, you have to be very careful. Not only can you damage the device further if you don’t know what you are doing, but you could also potentially injure yourself. Remember: devices and liquid generally don’t mix, so any time you are applying some of these cleaning solutions to a device, you need to be cautious. The average consumer should never attempt to repair a device without professional assistance. The best rule to keep in mind: When in doubt, take it to a professional! With that being said, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when dealing with deterioration and devices with water damage:

– To clean a device post-water damage, always remove any batteries or power connectors first. This not only prevents harm to you, but also prevents any short-circuiting to the device. By doing this, you will also be exposing extra connectors that may already have corroded, so exercise caution.

– Look for any white or green “crusty” areas on the device, especially on the battery connectors, charging ports, SIM card connectors, or any other major metal connectors on the device.

– Use cotton swabs and a cleaning solution such as isopropyl alcohol, baking soda and water, or even vinegar to clean it. Gently apply the solution to the affected area and wipe back and forth until the corrosion is removed. If necessary, leave some of the solution on the corroded area and wipe it off later.

– Dry your device with a soft cloth or a hair dryer on a cool setting- do not use heat to dry out your device. Make sure your device is dried extremely well before attempting to replace the battery and turn the device on. Any water left in the device could cause additional water damage.

Remember that whenever you are dealing with a water damaged device, there is not a guaranteed way to fix it once it has been subjected to water or already has deterioration issues. There are steps you can take to improve your chances of repairing it, but in the end you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

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