HOW TO: Fix a water damaged iPhone
After a lengthy discussion with a fellow TiPb member about fixing water damage to his iPhone, I thought I'd write up a guide on how to fix it, for anyone who have the same problem and are unsure on how to fix it.
Keep in mind kiddies:
THIS WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY!!
First, you'll need to dismantle the iPhone. This is not for the faint of heart, as there are very fragile wire connectors that, if disconnected via breaking, means you'll need to replace your entire LCD, which is expensive.
This guide is not about how to dismantle your iPhone, so check these videos. Try not to laugh at the narrators awesome accent
iPhone 2G Disassemble
iPhone 3G Disassemble
iPhone 3GS Disassemble
Once you have it all disconnected and in pieces, run to the cabinet or closest pharmacy and grab yourself some Isopropyl Alcohol.
DO NOT GET ETHYLENE ALCOHOL - IT WILL WRECK YOUR LCD SCREEN BEYOND REPAIR
Isopropyl alcohol is used to clean electronics while Ethyl Alcohol is used to dissolve certain PBC plastics and LCD screens, much like the screen on your iPhone, or Blackberry Storm devices.
Cant find Isopropyl alcohol? Unsure if what you have is Isopropyl or Ethyl? Go to your closest plumbing store (or hardware store) and get some silica sand. Still cant find silica or the correct alcohol? Go to the closest grocery store and get some uncooked raw white rice. Cant find rice, silica or Isopropyl? Where the hell are you? Mars?
You will also need a fiber free cloth such as microfiber, or fiber free cotton swabs, but I doubt you'll find those, as they are hard to find.
A word to the wise: Fixing by putting it near a fireplace or putting a heat gun over it, won't fix it. It will just cause further damage. The water may evaporate, and get into places which can't be fixed by any of the methods below, it can cause corrosion on the connections, which is very hard, if not impossible to fix, and can warp the LCD lens making your screen appear blurry all the time.
FIXING WITH ALCOHOL (Like many Friday nights..)
The area where you will do this needs to be clean. Don't do it in your dads work shop or garage, because dust is a mighty fine iPhone killer. Find a nice COLD area, like a bathroom, because Isopropyl alcohol evaporates fast at room temperature. I don't think I need to say, to wait a few hours after the last person who showered because of the moisture.
Dab the cloth in the alcohol, dabbing it along the circuitry board of the iPhone, hereby known as the logic board. Don't go in swipes or circles, because that can cause your cloth to tear, giving small fibers a chance to leave themselves behind. You don't want to use a lot of alcohol here, enough to make it appear wet, but not enough so as if you were to tilt the iPhone that it would drip off. Go over the entire phone surface, LCD screen and all. It is safe to use Isopropyl on LCD screens. Ethyl alcohol will dissolve the screen.
Bring the iPhone out to room temperature, and let it sit for about an hour or two. Don't attempt to speed things up with a blow dryer or by putting it in the sun, because that will just cause more problems. Plus the alcohol is highly flammable, and there is no quick fix for melted logic boards.
Reconnect everything once there is no visible signs of alcohol remaining, and see if the phone turns on. If it does not turn on, disassemble again and read on.
FIXING WITH SILICA (Hopefully not your Friday nights..)
This is the most difficult, but most effective way of fixing it. A word of caution however:
This stuff is MESSY, and extremely POISONOUS! Use gloves and a respirator at ALL times, and DON'T feed it to your fish! Silica is a powder that, when it comes into contact with almost any liquid, it absorbs it. It is usually found in bins at gas stations to mop up gas spills, or in some brands of pet litter. Inhaling it will KILL you. Respirators (N-97 or higher class) and gloves (Blue Nitrate or higher) ARE A MUST!
If you choose to use this method, and you have all the proper safety equipment, the process is very similar to the alcohol method. Using a thimble or small non-metal measuring device, pour the powder into all areas of the phone, in sections. Don't just dump the phone in a bin of silica, it will make cleanup a ***** and a half. Let the silica sit there for about 10 minutes. Use a can of compressed air to remove it. Don't use an air compressor, as it can force moisture back into small areas.
Let your work area ventilate for about a day before entering without safety equipment. Use a fan and force air out into the outside. Don't worry, once silica becomes airborne outside, it is harmless, as the quantity and parts per million isn't enough to kill a bird, let alone a human.
Throw out the clothes you were wearing. Don't attempt to wash them, you'll just pollute your washing machine, and possibly cause your plumbing to break. I hope you didn't do this fix in an Armani suit.
FIXING WITH RICE (.. I ran out of Friday night witty comments)
The easiest, but least effective way to fix water damage.
This one is easy, and you can complete it in less than 10 minutes. Disassemble the iPhone, and put each section into a zip-lock bag filled with uncooked raw white rice, and place in a fridge. Let them sit there for about 48 hours.
Remove and reassemble, turn it on (see.. turning things on doesn't require alcohol all the time!!).
I hope this guide helps anyone who managed to get their phone wet. Any comments, questions, please post here. I won't respond to private messages unless I ask/contact you first. Thanks