Water Damage & Rice – Explained

There’s nothing worse then that moment you drop your phone and its on the way to its death towards the water. You instantly begin to think about all your treasured photos, videos, text messages, contacts and everything else your going to lose. WELL it doesn’t have to be like that and there is a few things you can do.

What Actually Happens During Water Damage

In simple terms, what’s going on inside your phone is basically just a circuit board, a battery and a few components connected to it, like your cameras, vibrators, antennas etc. A circuit board is basically a piece of plastic, with thousands of tracks of copper going from one component to another, all over the place. Think of it like a city with buildings connected via roads. Each of these components is responsible for a different task. Whether it be controlling what happens to the power that comes in from your charge port, or controlling your phones camera, or the audio in the phone. All these parts require specific voltages and current to power on and perform their task.

Before I get into the next section its important to realise that salt water, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, bath water, pool water, and toilet water are all conductive. These liquids are conductive due to the minerals they contain, such as; Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium and Phosphorus. Tap water alone can carry traces of Copper, Iron, Selenium, Chromium & zinc.  It’s important to know that water in its purest state (distilled or demineralised water) doesn’t have all these minerals in it, and is actually NOT conductive. Some liquids even corrode a lot faster then others depending on the minerals they contain. Eg: Salt water being the worst.

When you spill liquid over your circuit board, what happens is; you may have a component somewhere that controls your charging, and another that controls your rear camera. Lets say for eg your charging component is expecting to receive 5 volts in from your charger and the component that controls your rear camera is expecting 3 volts to be powered on and do what it needs to do. When you spill water on the circuit board over the top of these circuits, the part that needed 3 volts all of a sudden may be receiving 5 volts because the water caused the electricity to go where it shouldn’t have. By doing this you most likely would damage that component.

SO, WHAT DO YOU DO?

Turn the device off IMMEDIATELY  & leave it off.
If there’s no power running through your circuit board, theres no power for the water to carry and send to the wrong places therefore it cannot do any damage. It is only that your phone is ON that the water causes damage.
Don’t try to turn it on, leave it off till its been treated properly.
Remember if theres no power, theres no damage. The second you turn that phone on while there’s water inside it, your exposing it to risk of damage. There is every chance theres water sitting over the top of your CPU (basically the brain of the phone that controls almost everything). If you cause damage to that CPU chances are your data is gone forever. So don’t risk it! Leave it off until you can have the phone inspected and cleaned out properly.
You need to have it treated within 3-4 hours if you want the best chance at fixing it before corrosion starts. Whenever you have copper, oxygen and water together, your going to get corrosion very quickly. The time before corrosion begins varies a lot between different liquids. Salt water can begin to cause corrosion inside your phone within about 20-30 minutes. Where-as tap water can take about 3-4 hours.
Don’t try to charge it.
Again, if you charge it, your adding power to the phone which will only cause damage. NO GOOD CAN COME FROM CHARGING A WATER DAMAGED DEVICE.
Do not dry the phone out, do not put it in rice, do not heat it up, do not put it in the sun. These are all stupid internet myths and do not do anything but speed up the corrosion process. As well as the fact that your not even putting the rice inside the device so its not going to do anything. Your charge port and head phone jacks are not hallow gateways into your phone.

How do i fix it?

You need to bring your phone to us immediately if you want the best chance of success. Not tomorrow, not in 2 weeks, not in a few months. Once that corrosion begins the phones chances of recovery become lower as every minute passes. Corrosion is like a disease, it LOVES copper and it pretty much feeds off it. Eventually it may eat all the copper required for a component or many components to run. Then they lose their ability to function or even power on and then you begin to lose functions or if not, full power of the phone.

Now, guaranteed you have heard people say ” well rice fixed my phone and its working fine”.
No water damage case is ever really the same. Theres too many variables involved and you don’t know where inside the phone the water went, which matters a lot. If they put their phone in rice, and let it dry out, and it worked, they may have got lucky and their phone may be working, but the inside of it will be starting to corrode. Sure it may seem fine but they can’t see the corrosion inside thats slowly eating at their circuit board. So for example, a few weeks/months later, the corrosion eats the copper track that carries the voltage required to power your rear camera – well you have now lost the rear camera. But the corrosion doesn’t stop, it keeps spreading, and causes similar issues to other components nearby.
Rice seems logical because it drys your phone out. It’s cheap, easy and you don’t have to do much. As well as in your head your telling yourself  “well at least I’m doing something”. But your not addressing the problem properly and your only lowering your chances of repair and data recovery.

Meet Isopropyl Alcohol

IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol) naturally displaces water, and will aid in slowing/stopping the corrosion process. – But will most likely fill your backlight in your screen and cause it to go funny, which is not an issue if your more worried about your data.

 If you have to, and your willing to replace the screen or any speakers in order to save your data. Go to a chemist, Super Cheap Auto or Bunnings Warehouse and buy a big tub of (100% IPA) Isopropyl Alcohol and submerge your phone in it until you bring it to us.

How Can I Get My Data Back?

If you setup iCloud properly you can always login to www.icloud.com and you will have access to all your data since your previous iCloud backup. If you haven’t backed your phone up recently or ever before, you can send your phone to us and we can recover the data from it.
If you have forgotten your apple password, you can use www.iforgot.apple.com to retrieve your login details.