What to do about Liquid damage

Liquid damage can happen to anyone, accidents happen but what should you do about it?

Although it maybe too late my advice is to try keep any liquid away from any electronic device. This means not drinking near your laptop or using your phone in the bath/toilet all things I see daily working in a repair store.

Liquid affects electronic devices in a few different ways:

Residue: Residue stays on a liquid damage device even if its dried out its like a white mark thats left behind from the minerals naturally present in “tap” water and if it was dropped in something other than water chemicals from that may affect the white colour eg. coffee would be a brown mark.

This residue can be conductive and begin to short components on the board to ground or even put the wrong voltage through a component rated for a lower voltage.

Liquid also causes corrosion liquid can “eat away” at the metal pads and components causing them to either get a loose connection or break a component.

This can affect the devices so they no longer turn on or certain parts stop working,

What should I do about it after its happened?

so your device is liquid damaged and perhaps something is not working as it should what should you do?

Don’t waste your time with rice,  there is a myth that rice can fix your device if left in a bowl of dry un cooked rice. whilst the rice will absorb the water it will not remove the residue causing the problems that I will talk about later.

Don’t use heat, heat can damage the device more even a hair dryer if a component on the board gets too hot it can die or the solder can melt under it and the component can be moved or the solder underneath it crack. This can happen with reflows and re-balling but thats a whole other topic.

When ever a device has been in contact with liquid it should firstly be disconnected from any power source this includes mains power and battery power.

No matter if the device is working or not it should most defiantly be taken apart and cleaned using 99% isopropyl alcohol less will work but take longer to dry.

There are many guides of how to take devices apart on https://www.ifixit.com/

Isopropyl is a solvent used for cleaning and is great at removing liquid residue, sometimes the devices can be bathed in isopropyl for a few days provided microphones, speakers, lcds ect. are removed. Many people use a tooth brush to clean the water off and this works but don’t scrub too hard. If the board still looks bad after cleaning its a good idea to get the board bathed. There is a special tool for this called a sonic bath used in the repair industry.

isopropyl alcohol its self is non conductive but the 1% of the 99% contains water and is conductive so be sure to let it dry fully.

Sorry but this will only sometimes work in fact rarely will this work completely after liquid damage the device usually has remaining faults especially on small boards like phones.

Most of the time this can be resolved by “component level repair” most people are unable to do this as it takes allot of time and practice and loads of breaking stuff that was working! so with out getting into component level repair because there is far too much to say about it…

Here is an example of component level repair: Jessa from iPad rehab https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPjp41qeXe1o_lp1US9TpWA/videos Louis Rossman from Rossman repair group https://www.youtube.com/user/rossmanngroup/videos Both very well known in this industry and both have very good guides to follow and learn from.

So for most people when this happens unfortunately you will need to take this to a trusted local store that deals with this type of repair.

At least you now know how its done!

Was this article helpful?