iPhone water damage or damage from any other liquid must be dealt with quickly. Whether you have the newer iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5, 5c, or 5s or if you have an older model 4, 4s, even 3g or 2g…no matter the model of your iPhone, it is yours and you don’t want it to die! Note that we offer advice on dealing with this situation because if an iPhone is damaged by liquid (water, coffee, soft drink, etc.), the Apple one year limited warranty or an AppleCare Protection Plan (APP) will not cover the damage.
iPhones built after 2006 (pretty much all iPhones) have built-in Liquid Contact Indicators (LCIs) that will show if a phone has been in contact with liquid. LCIs on iPhones are visible on the outside of the phone and turn from white or silver to red when exposed to liquid. See the example of the LCI for an iPhone 5/5c/5s. For more information and pictures of LCI locations for other devices, see the Apple support page on iPhone water damage.
IMPORTANT: Once an iPhone’s LCI is activated, warranty work is no longer possible.
WHY IS WATER DAMAGE SO BAD FOR AN IPHONE?
Any electronic device exposed to liquids becomes subject to corrosion of its internal workings. Irreversible deterioration of the motherboard, contacts, switches, or even jacks and ports may result in the device not working properly or at all. If you buy a used iPhone, carefully inspect the following for evidence of discoloration cause by corrosion due to liquid exposure:
- Speaker or Microphone Mesh
- Dock Connector
- Audio Jack
- Dock Screws
- any exposed metal parts.
Even if you get most of the water out, it only takes a tiny amount on the wrong part to cause malfunction.
WHAT TO DO IMMEDIATELY AFTER EXPOSING AND IPHONE TO WATER
Whether a small spill or total submersion, the following guide helps you have the best chance of saving your iPhone. Acting quickly is the key to increasing the odds of saving your device, but don’t panic. Calmly following a process is important to your success.
Remove the iPhone from the Liquid
IMPORTANT: If the iPhone is connected to a wall charger while submerged, do not attempt to remove it. Water and electricity can result in a fatal shock. Turn off the main power switch to the outlet that the charger is plugged into before attempting to touch the phone or plug. If you are unsure of how to cut the power to the outlet or to test that it is indeed without power, seek a professional (electrician, handyman) immediately to ask what to do.
If the iPhone was not plugged in, then remove it from the water as quickly as possible. Dab all the liquid off quickly.
After your iPhone is exposed to moisture, do not turn it on. This could short-circuit your iPhone which will fry the iPhone’s motherboard (its brain that makes it work).
If you are reading this, you likely have iPhone water damage. We highly recommend that you leave the procedures below to professionals like our technicians at ER4GADGETS.
Opening up an iPhone and putting it back together is not for the faint of heart and doing so can cause additional damage to the phone or exposure to harmful chemicals. Also, you may find that you do not have the right screwdriver to open up the iPhone.
Call us at 832.581.2370 and head on over to Richmond at Weslayan. If we are not close to you or we are closed, here are instructions to help you save your iPhone.
Remove the Battery
Removing the battery quickly is one of the most important steps to saving your phone. Many circuits will survive provided they are not attached to a power source (the battery) while wet.
Lay your phone on paper towels or soft lint-free cloth while you remove the battery cover and battery. Note that for iPhones, this requires opening the phone up. If you have already checked the LCI and it is red from moisture exposure, then the warranty is already voided.
If you’re not sure how to remove the battery, quickly read the manual to your iPhone on a computer or other device. To remove the battery from an iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, follow these instructions:
- Ensure the phone is not plugged into the wall.
- Remove any case from your iPhone and dry any external moisture. Remove all other peripherals such as ear buds, memory cards, and any plugs that cover the gaps or slots.
- Use a pentalobe (5-point) screwdriver to remove the 2 screws at the bottom of the iPhone on either side of the charging port. If you don’t have the screw driver, skip to Water Displacement Procedure if You Could NOT Open the Phone.
- If you have another device, take a picture of the phone before you take it apart so you have a reference to put it back together. If not, you will likely be able to find pictures online if you run into trouble later.
- Remove the battery and all other components carefully removing visible liquid and laying them out on the paper towel or cloth to dry.
- Remove the SIM card. Valuable contacts and other data is likely salvageable even if you lose your phone. (Hopefully you backed up to iCloud so that this is less important).
Displace the Water or other Liquid from iPhone Internals
If you successfully got the battery out without turning on the iPhone, then cleaning the internal components phone with rubbing alcohol will displace the water or other liquid. Higher % of alcohol content like 99% isopropyl alcohol is better than the 70% isopropyl alcohol is commonly used for first aid. But, if you have no access to professional iPhone repair or 99% alcohol, moving quickly is your best option.
Clean off the motherboard and other components with 99% isopropyl alcohol with a lint-free microfiber cloth. Ensure you wipe the connectors on the motherboard and other iPhone parts to remove the corrosive properties of the liquid.
Place all the internal components (motherboard, LCD, etc.) inside a closed plastic storage container or plastic storage bag with silica gel for 24-48 hours. Substitute uncooked rice if you don’t have silica gel. If you find yourself without the materials to do this step, use a heater or fan to blow air ACROSS the phone’s openings to aid drying. IMPORTANT: Avoid blowing air into the phone as this can force moisture deeper into the components.
Water Displacement Procedure if You Could NOT Open the Phone
If you could not remove the back to get to the components, follow these instructions. This is a good procedure to follow to try to dry out your iPhone while waiting for professional help.
- Fill a plastic storage container or plastic storage bag with silica gel (you may substitute rice).
- Place the phone down in the gel or rice.
- Rotate the phone to a different position every hour that you are awake for the next 24-48 hours.
Do NOT Do This to Displace Water from Your Phone
- Do not use a hair dryer to dry out a phone. Contrary to common advice, a hair dryer (even on the “cool” mode) may force moisture further down into crevices increasing the chances of corrosion.
- Do not use an oven or microwave to dry your phone.
- Do not heat up the battery to any degree as this could cause dangerous fumes or an explosion.
- Do not follow silly internet advice like using the clothes dryer.
Reassemble and Test Your Dried-Out iPhone
After following as much of the procedures above as possible and waiting a minimum of 24 hours (48 is better), check to see that every nook and cranny iPhone is clean and looks dry. Check all the ports, compartments and in between crevices for any moisture or dirt. Reassemble your phone including inserting the battery.
Power on your iPhone. Listen for odd noises.
If the iPhone Turns On
- Check the display. If it is cloudy, that means the LCD absorbed water and you will need to have the LCD replaced.
- Check that all buttons, volume control, etc. work.
- Check that your data such as contacts appear to be complete.
- If something is still not right, it is likely that you missed some liquid, corrosion has begun to occur, or something short-circuited. At this point, seek professional water damage repair.
If the iPhone Does NOT Turn On
Don’t despair…yet! Try this:
- Remove the cover again.
- Remove the battery.
- Then replace the cover.
- Then plug it into its charger without the battery.
- If this works, you will need a new battery, but your phone is saved.
- If plugging the phone into a charger without a battery does not work, seek professional water damage repair.
Even if you have attempted these heroic steps and failed, bring your dead or water damaged iPhone to ER4GADGETS. Don’t let it die!