Have a liquid damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Here's what you should and shouldn't do!

Have a liquid damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Here's what you should and shouldn't do!

I see lots of liquid damaged iPhones, iPads, and iPods on a regular basis. If you don't have AppleCare+, your warranty won't cover liquid damage. This is why a lot of people turn to places like The Pod Drop to reverse the damage. Not only can it be a lot cheaper than replacing an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, but it can allow you to get lots more use out of it.

If you are ever faced with the dreaded task of figuring out what to do with a water damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod, there are some things you can do, as well as some things you should not do, before taking it in for service that will help mitigate the damage therefore making the success rate of repairing it much higher.

Types of liquid damage

Before we get into what to do with a liquid damaged device, it's necessary to know exactly what kind of liquid your device has incurred damage from. While any kind of liquid can damage electronics, some are more severe than others. Knowing how severe the damage is not only helps whoever is repairing it know what they're getting into, but helps you to know whether or not a repair is even warranted or if a new iPhone, iPad, or iPod may just be a better route right off the bat.

What is pH?

Before we go any further, lets talk about pH for a minute. pH is a commonly used indicator for liquids. The higher the pH, the less acidic it is. For example, water has a pH of 7, which is considered neutral. More acidic substances would have a much lower pH. While you don't need to know all the math and background behind pH, knowing a little will get you a long way in terms of determining whether the damage is repairable.

Alkaline (basic) substances

Anything with a pH of 7 or greater is considered to be an alkaline substance. If you had to drop your iPhone, iPad, or iPod in any kind of liquid, this is the kind you'd want to drop it in.

Here are some pH levels for common alkaline substances -

  • Bleach - 12
  • Ammonia - 11
  • Human blood - 7 to 7.5

It's interesting to note that bleach, which most people may consider more damaging, actually isn't as abrasive. Liquid damage from bleach can be reversed.

Acidic substances

If alkaline substances have a pH of over 7, that means that anything with a pH under 7 would be considered acidic. These are the fluids you'll want to keep your electronics devices far away from. For example, orange juice has a pH of around 3.5 which makes is very acidic. Acidic substances have a nasty habit of eating away at electronic components and failure rates are much higher when liquid damage is caused by an acidic substance.

Here are some pH levels for common acidic substances -

  • Orange juice - 3.5
  • Milk - 6.5 (some people consider milk neutral since it is so close to 7 in some cases)
  • Beer - 3 to 6 depending on the kind of beer
  • Soda drinks such as Coke - 2.5 to 4.2
  • Lemon juice - 2 to 2.5

In short, if you drop your iPhone in your morning glass of orange juice, while it may be possible to fix it, it's going to come down to how many internal components were damaged and how fast the problem is caught. With acidic substances, time is your enemy more so than with alkaline substances.

In most cases, mild contact may be able to be fixed but if your iPhone was soaking in a glass of Coke, you're probably going to be better off purchasing a new iPhone in the end.

Do's and don'ts

water damage do's and don'ts for iphone

Before we go any further, let's go over what you shouldn't do in order to remedy water damage. There are lots of common beliefs out there that we've found to be wrong over the years. Some of them can actually damage your device further.

Do NOT put your iPhone, iPad, or iPod in rice

Most people immediately think to put their phone in rice immediately following contact with water. This is actually one of the worse things you can do. While the logic of pulling water or liquid out of the device sounds like a good plan, it actually isn't.

Once the device completely dries out, corrosion sets in. You want to avoid this at all costs. In our experience, rice actually causes corrosion to set in faster. Not to mention, rice gets caught in headphone jacks, dock connectors, and other small places. I've actually seen rice get inside the device itself and cause buildup when it expands. Not only does it cause more damage from time to time, it's also not fun to pick out of small areas.

Most reputable repair places will tell you to place the still wet device into a plastic bag and bring it in as is. If they're telling you to put it in rice first, stay away.

Back away from the hair dryer!

Never, ever, under any circumstance take a hair dryer or a heat gun to a water damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Much like rice, you're going to cause corrosion to set in faster and could potentially damage your device further.

To remove liquid, attempt to shake it out from any entry points or hold it upside down but pretty please, don't take a hair dryer to it.

Don't use a charger

Most people have an inclination to throw it on a charger immediately after water damage occurs. This typically happens if the screen blacks out or the device dies. Lithium ion batteries and liquid don't play nice together. Most places that fix water damage will replace the battery just as a precaution on all water damaged device. It's a good practice and something that should almost always be done.

On top of causing issues with the battery, you can also short circuit the logic board. Leaving the device completely turned off for a period of time is best practice. I would recommend staying away from chargers until you can get help fixing the issue from a professional. If you don't think the damage was bad enough to warrant taking it in for repair, I'd still avoid chargers for at least 72 hours before attempting to plug it in and turn it on.

React fast

Once you notice your iPhone, iPad, or iPod has come in contact with liquid, the most obvious thing to do is to remove it from the liquid. Sometimes if you catch it fast enough or it does not become completely submerged, the damage can be minimal.

Turn the device off

Immediately following any contact with liquid, always turn any electronics device off immediately. It is very possible that liquid can short it out. The safest bet is to completely turn it off.

Here is where I'd normally tell you to take out the battery but considering Apple products don't have removable batteries, which creates an issue.

If you've got a little bit of DIY knowledge and the tools laying around, taking the battery out of a water damaged iPhone isn't a bad idea. You can browse through our DIY articles in order to find a walkthrough on how to remove the battery from your iPhone if you'd like. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, don't. Just get it to someone who can in a timely manner.

Check water sensors

All iPhones, iPads, and iPods have water sensors. Check the dock connector and headphone jack with a flashlight to see if the sensors are triggered. By default, the sensors should be white. If they have turned red, you know liquid has gotten into one of the ports.

Get help

Don't wait too long before getting help. There are several places that can successfully reverse water damage using the correct tools and parts, including The Pod Drop. It's possible something as little as treating the logic board and a new battery may get your iPhone, iPad, or iPod back into working order.

While liquid damage is completely dictated on a case by case basis, most of the time, it can be fixed as long as you don't wait too long before and don't do anything to damage the device further.

The bottom line

Whether you're mailing your device in or taking it some place local, if you perform all the steps above and stay away from the things you shouldn't do, the chances of successful liquid damage repair become much higher.

The last, and more important step, is to make sure that whoever you are entrusting to fix your iPhone, iPad, or iPod has experience handling water damage. Good signs are if the employees give you honest advice and an initial estimate after physically seeing it. I will typically do an initial diagnosis right in front a customer and point out problem areas that I can see off-hand. If I don't think the device can be saved or that a new one is a better option, I can typically tell the customer that right off the bat.

Any reputable company should be willing to help find the best option for you. If you don't feel they are providing you that service, walk away and try elsewhere.

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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