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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to bring drowned gadgets back to life

If you accidentally drowned your shiny new widget, don't stress as you're not alone. I've had near misses but never gone the whole way. I know some if not most of you have accidently done this to your gadgets.

In the UK, those enterprising Brits manage to drop a staggering 850,000 phones down the toilet in 2007 and this number will have only grown since then.

Luckily in many cases a drowned gadget can be resuscitated back to life using several simple steps. Old wives tales and urban myths abound on how to dry and fix a sodden phone (e.g. packing phones in uncooked rice or baking it in an oven etc.), yet most of these will at best deliver mixed results or more seriously can potentially be dangerous. Here's a quick step by step guide to safely attempting to bring back a drowned phone or PDA.

1. Don't turn the device back on!!! I know this is the most 'logical' thing to do to check whether it is ok and tempting to do so. As soon as possible (preferably as soon as a dunking has happened), remove the device's battery to prevent any electrical shorts from creating permanent damage and once the battery is out, shake out any excess water.

2. Dry your gadget using a soft absorbent towel. Remove any battery covers, memory cards etc. Grabbing a blow dryer, set it to low heat and position it to blow on your widget from approximately 100cm away. Keep an eye on it for the first 10-15 mins, checking to ensure it doesn't get too hot. If the device gets too hot to touch, turn off the blow dryer immediately, leaving your gizmo to cool down. Increase the distance between the blow dryer and your device and start again. You'll probably need to do this for at least an hour, maybe even 2 - 3 hours.

3. Next, drop your device into a small container and loosely pack it with cotton balls. Whilst some suggest using rice, cotton balls won't leave a starchy residue, and won't gunk up your device. Ideally you should leave it packed in cotton balls sitting in an airing cupboard for at least 24 hours, longer if necessary.

4. By now your device should be dry and the cotton balls damp. Check the device thoroughly for water, if any can be seen behind its screen, keys and other parts, repeat step3 until there is no trace of water.

Assuming your device looks and feels dry, re-insert its battery back and try switching it on. If it won't start, your battery could be dead and might need to be charged. Before doing any charging, make sure that the battery is a 110 per cent dry before charging it. As there may be some moisture still inside the device do not connect it to its power adaptor/charger to see if it works as this could permanently damage your device, blow a fuse or make your hair stand on end.

5. If device refuses to work after 24 hours, repack it in cotton balls, put it in the airing cupboard and give it another 48 hours before trying to restart it. If your device still refuses to work, use its power adaptor/charger and see if that works. If at that point it still doesn't want to play ball, you'll probably need accept defeat.

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Odd Helge said...

Great post, just one additional comment. If your device has been dropped in the sea, salt water, you need to rinse the salt away first as salt is highly corrosive over time.

If this is the case - follow the procedure above, but rinse it well in clean water (destilled if possible) before drying it in cotton balls to wash the salt away.

wanwarlock said...

You're right Odd. Forgot to mention that. It's quite difficult to really get the salt off tbh from experience with my car keys.

The best thing to do is try and disassemble the device and maybe clean it with alcohol.

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